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Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

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  • Last Updated : 30 Nov, 2021

In the mid 19th century and early 20th century, we saw an increase in poverty during the colonial age. The colonial rules moved unwaged artisans into farming and converted the nation into a province gradually rich in land-living, uneducated labor, and low efficiency. Thus, it made the nation scarce in labor, capital, and knowledge.

Poverty Alleviation or Relief, or Reduction, is a set of ways, by which governments’ policies can intend to permanently lift people out of the poverty line. As per the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2020, India ranks at 62nd position out of 107 nations with an MPI score of 0.123. Recently a study also revealed that six multidimensionally poor people, five were from lower tribes or castes and according to the Global Hunger Index 2021, with a score of 27.5, India ranks 101st out of the 116 countries, and according to the data, the level of hunger is serious.

There are some major reasons for poverty in India, due to less financial support to the lower-income group, over-population, fewer job opportunities, discrimination and casteism of society, lack of education, and huge corruption in society.  

India’s most persuasive task is the removal of poverty and for that the Indian government has taken various programs, schemes, policies based on two main objectives: 

  1. Launching anti-poverty programs to address a specific group of people.
  2. Increasing economic growth of the country by providing job opportunities to the lower-income groups.  

Some of the Major Programs Initiated by Government:

After India got its independence, various initiatives were taken to reduce the poverty in India such as in 1950 by Minhas estimating the poverty rates in India, in 1960 a working group was formed to set up a poverty line for India and various others following that. In the first time after post-Independence history, poverty was considered a national issue under the Chairmanship of India’s third prime minister Indira Gandhi. To achieve two main objectives, removal of poverty ‘Garibi Hatao‘ and attainment of self-reliance, D.D. Dhar prepared and launched the 5th Five Years Plan through the better distribution of income, promotion of high growth rate, and significant growth in the rural area.

1. Integrated Rural Development Programme: 

It was started in the year 1980-81 to create self-employment for the poor people in rural areas. The main aim of IRDP was to decrease the levels of the families in the below poverty line category permanently by providing them revenue-generating resources and access to other inputs.

2. Jawahar Rozgar Yojana:

It was launched on April 1st, 1989, by an amalgamation of the National Rural Employment Program (NREP) and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) to create employment options and improve the quality of life for the unemployed and under-employed public in rural parts by generating community and social assets and the rural economic infrastructure. The objective of the program was supplementary profitable employment for the unemployed and underemployed people in the rural parts, to create constant employment by strengthening the rural financial structure and assets supporting the poor people in the rural parts for their continuous benefits. In this Yojana, thirty percent of the employment options are held in reserve for females in rural parts. 

3. Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana:

The Jawahar Rozgar Yojana was again reformed as Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana on 1st April 1999. This scheme on 25th September 2001 was further modified to the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana. The objective is to generate demand-driven community village infrastructure that would enable the poor people in the rural parts to increase sustained employment opportunities, durable possessions at the village level. It also includes the creation of additional employment options for the unemployed in the rural parts. The wage employment could be provided to below poverty line (BPL) families. 

4. Employment Assurance Scheme:

It was launched on October 2nd, 1993. It covers drought-prone parts, desert parts, tribal parts, and hill region areas. This scheme during the year 1994-95 was implemented across the nation’s 409 blocks and by April 1997 this scheme was extended to cover all the blocks. The primary objective of this scheme was to generate supplementary wage employment options when there is an acute shortage in manual work during lean agricultural seasons to all able adult poor persons of rural areas who are in need of work at that time, and the secondary objective of this scheme is to generate of financial infrastructure and community assets for employment and growth for rural India.

5. Food for Work Programme:

It was launched in the year 1977-78 by providing food grains as a substitute for wages. This was then restructured with changes implemented in 2001 for the most 150 backward districts of the country to create additional employment for the provisions of lives. The objective is to make available supplementary resources apart from the ones available below the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana to the 150 most backward districts of the nation. This program can lead to the creation of additional wage employment opportunities and making available food safety through generating need-based societal, financial, and communal assets in these backward districts.

6. Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana:

It was launched in the year 2001 via merging the Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana and Employment Assurance scheme by the Ministry of Rural Development. The main aim of the scheme was to provide supplementary wage employment options, provide food safety and improved nutritional stages in all parts, generate durable community social and monetary assets, and infrastructural expansion for the poor in rural areas.

7. Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awaas Yojana:

Earlier referred to as Indira Awaas Yojana. The Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awaas Yojana was launched in the year 2015 is created to provide construction of free houses for the rural poor in India who are below the poverty line. 

The objective is the advancement of affordable housing options through the credit-linked subsidy process, restoration of slum dwellers with the involvement of the private sector using the land-dwelling as a resource, reasonable housing in association with government and private subsidy.

8. National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP):

It was launched on 15th August 1995 with the objective of secure social security and welfare program to provide support to widows, aged persons, disabled persons, and bereaved those families on the death of the primary breadwinner, belonging to BPL households for the fulfillment of the Article 41 and Article 42 of Directive Principles of State Policy which is mentioned in Part IV of the Constitution of India. It also had three components namely,

A. National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS): It was launched in the year 1995 to provide pensions to the person who is a “destitute” having little or no source of income or monetary support. The main aim is to make available social safety to the eligible beneficiaries. In this, the senior citizens 60 years or above receive a monthly pension and it is a non-contribution person, wherein the beneficiary does not have to contribute any amount to receive the pension.

B. National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS): It was launched in the year 1995 to support with a lumpsum amount to the household below the poverty line who then becomes the head of the family after the death of the main wage earner. It provides a lumpsum amount of Rs.10,000/- to the household and it is applicable in the age group of 18-64 years.    

C. National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS): In the National Maternity Benefit Scheme, a financial grant is provided to women belonging to poor families for pre-natal and post-natal care. It is for women aged above 19 years and above up to the first two live births. It is a cash-based maternity assistance scheme.


The social clusters are most susceptible to poverty, and they are categorized as SC and ST and in the economic clusters, the most susceptible are the agricultural labor in rural parts and the casual labor in the urban parts. The challenges lie ahead such as the rural and the urban parts showing vast differences in poverty. 

It is true that poverty has been reduced but not up to the intended level. As a citizen or as a government, still we have to focus on the food chain, clothing, population control, free education at the basic level, empowerment of women and fiscally weaker sections of the society, medical facilities, etc. for better results. 

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