05 January 2023

What is the poverty line in India?

Poverty is one of the major problems that the world is facing today. There are billions of people in the world today that struggle to even meet their basic needs. 

According to the recently released 2022 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, there are about 1.2 billion people in the world across 111 countries that fall below the poverty line. 

Even though the situation of poverty in the world has improved over the years. There is still a lot more work that needs to be done to eradicate the problem of poverty globally. 

Compared to many other countries in the world, India’s poverty situation has improved significantly over the years. As per the 2022 multidimensional poverty index report, India had succeeded in bringing around 415 million people above the poverty line. 


What is a poverty line?

In simple terms, the poverty line is the monetary income that one must have to afford the basic amenities of life. Globally, the poverty line is set at $2.15 per day. This amount was recently updated by the World Bank in 2022. 

Depending upon the country’s social and economic status required to attain the basic needs, the poverty line may vary from one country to another. 

In India, the poverty line lies at 1,286 rupees per month for urban areas and 1,059.42 rupees per month for rural areas. 


Poverty in India

According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index report, the poverty in India has reduced to a great extent. Over the years, the country’s MPI (Multidimensional poverty Index) value has reduced from 0.283 in 2005- 2006 to 0.122 in 2015-2016 to 0.069 in 2019-2020. 

The poverty incidence of the country seems to have dropped from 55.1% in 2005- 2006 to 27.7% in 2015- 2016 to 16.4% in 2015- 2016.

However, the percentage of 16.4 is still huge for a largely populated country like India. This percentage clearly showcases that around 228.9 million people in the country are still living in poverty. 

The global data of MPI (Multidimensional poverty Index) showcases that in the developing regions, Sub Saharan Africa holds the largest number of poor people (about 579 million) which is followed by South Asian region with 385 million poor people. Among this South Asian region, India is the country that holds the largest poor population. 

Since the MPI (Multidimensional poverty Index) report did not take post pandemic data into consideration, there is a chance that the number of poor people might have been increased as the pandemic had a very bad effect on the economy and the income of people. 

Hence, it is extremely necessary for the government and other people of India to try and help these weaker sections of the society. But how do we help them? Before learning about that, let’s look into some of the reasons for people being below the poverty line in the country.


  • Large population

India is the second largest country in the world after China with a population of over 139 crore people. In the upcoming years, due to its rapid population growth rate, it is also expected to cross the population of China and become the largest populated country. However, why is increasing population rate worrisome? 

It is because, due to a large population, the country might often have to struggle with lack of resources. This further can also result in an increase in problems like unemployment, poor health care facilities and so on as the country’s economy is not growing at the same pace as its population rate. 


  • Rich and poor inequality

Even though India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, poverty is still a major issue that the country has been struggling with. This is majorly due to the inequality gap between the rich and the poor of the country. 

As per the World Inequality Database (WID) report of 2021, India is categorised under ‘extreme inequalities countries’. It was also estimated that by 2020, the income share of the bottom half could make up-to only 13% while the top 10% captured 57% and top 1% made 22% of the total national income. 

  • Lack of access to water, proper nutrition and sanitation

The latest report of State of Food Security and nutrition in the world (SOFI) stated that around 56 crore people in India suffer from food insecurity in 2019-2021. This alone accounted for 37% of the total food insecure people in the world. The NFHS- 5 (National Family Health Survey -5) data showcases that every one in three children below the age of 5 years are stunted and underweight. 

This lack of proper hygienic food, clean water and sanitation is a great worry for the country as it can affect the productivity and health of the poor people and restrict their upliftment. 


  • Lack of education

Over the years, India has been successful in increasing its literacy rate. At present, the country’s literacy rate stands at 77.7%. However, it also indicates that still around one in every four Indians lack the basic access to education. 

This lack of access to education often restricts people to a low income job or no job at all. This further hinders their upliftment.

Even though the government has put forth some commendable efforts like mandating children’s education (from age 6 to 14) under right to education act and so on, the problems of lack of attendance in the schools, low quality of education, increase in drop outs and so on are still prevalent and need to be focused on. 


  • Unemployment

Unemployment is one of the major obstacles in India that is restricting many people’s upliftment from poverty. The rate of unemployment has increased rapidly in the past two years due to the pandemic as many people and daily wage workers lost their source of income. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and development, the unemployment rate can quadruple from 4 to 8 percent by 2022.

Due to the increase in unemployment rate and lack of job opportunities, people often have little to no income in their hands, leading them to struggle to even afford the basic necessities of life. 


  • Natural disasters and climate change

Natural disasters and climate change can certainly affect the lives of many. Over the years, India has faced different types of natural calamities ranging from floods in Kerala (2018), Uttarakhand and Kashmir (2013) to Tsunami (2004) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001).

Experts have predicted that droughts might increase more than 30% from 2001 to 2030. Many of India’s coastal cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kochi and so on are under the risk of getting submerged by 2100. Regional floods are destroying farmers’ crops and harvests. 

Such disasters can not just cause fatalities but can also hinder economic growth which pushes more people into poverty. India ranks among the 3 countries that have suffered the most impact of such disasters in recent years. More than 100 crore people’s lives in the country were affected. 


  • Social conflicts

The caste system, blind beliefs, dowry, inheritance law and so on can directly or indirectly cause an increase in poverty. With some parts of India still practising practices like Untouchability, many people from backward castes are oppressed and are unable to attain even the basic facilities or opportunities to improve their lives. Even though India is slowly progressing from this mentality and even has set up rules and regulations against such practices, it still requires a lot of awareness among people to completely eradicate such practices from the country. 


How can poverty be reduced?

The credit to whatever progress India has made in reducing the poverty rate from the past few decades goes to the government, donors, charities groups, NGOs and so on who have been consistently working towards helping the poor of the country. Government’s initiatives and Schemes like Annapurna, National Maternity Benefit Scheme, National Old Age Pension Scheme, Outlawing bonded labour, National Rural Employment Programme, Right to education act and so on have helped in the upliftment of many underprivileged individuals and families. 

Apart from this, several NGOs and other charitable organisations have put forth commendable efforts in reaching out to families who are in need of help and support. NGOs like Narayan Seva Sansthan through their campaigns like Garib Parivar Ration Yojana have helped with providing rations to thousands of tribal and rural families that were severely affected due to Covid-19.

As an individual, we can contribute a lot in helping the weaker sections of society too. How? 

Here are some poverty solutions that one can apply personally to help the underprivileged. 


  • Monetary Donations to NGOs and government relief funds

Monetary donations are one of the easiest and most common ways in which one can help the poor. You can donate whatever little possible to an NGO and relief fund. Your small contribution can ultimately play a big role in improving someone’s life. 

Another advantage of these monetary donations is that they can be subjected to tax exemptions (provided they are 80G certified). 


  • Donation of resources

Apart from monetary donations, donations of resources are also quite popular in India. There are several NGOs that accept donations of resources like books, clothes and so on.


  • Volunteering in NGO

If you are someone who personally wants to indulge themselves in helping others, then volunteering might be an option for you to consider. The best thing about volunteering is that it can actually provide you a reality check of people’s struggles and enables you to help them. 

There are many NGOs in the country that accept volunteers. Hence, you can choose a Charitable organisation or NGO that you deeply connect with and contact them. 


  • Holding and participating in fundraising events and collection drives

Fundraising events and collection drives are some of the best ways in which a community can help the underprivileged sections of the society. Hence, holding and participating in such events can be a great way in which you can help the poor of the country. 


  • Spreading awareness regarding poverty

One of the major reasons for millions of Indians not being able to improve their lives is lack of awareness. These people are often unaware of the provisions and the opportunities that they can use to uplift themselves. Hence, you can contribute to improving their lives by spreading awareness to these people and regarding the opportunity and schemes that they can use to uplift themselves. 

Apart from this, Social media platforms can also be a great way to encourage people from all around the world to donate for helping the poor. By sharing data, facts, stories and narratives of these underprivileged people, you can reach millions of people who will be willing to help in improving their lives. 


  • Tutoring the underprivileged children and adults

In today’s world, basic education can be one of the biggest needs that can empower the underprivileged. However, the poor people who are struggling to afford the basic needs of their life often have to give up on their dreams to learn and educate themselves. 

As an individual, one way that you can help them is by offering to teach them in your free time. Even basic education can have a huge positive impact in their lives. 


Narayan Seva Sansthan

If you are looking for an NGO helping against poverty, then Narayan Seva Sansthan can be an option for you to consider. 

Established in 1985, the sansthan has been consistently working towards improving the lives of Divyangs and other unprivileged sections of the society. It is one of the most renowned NGOs in India with over 480 branches in the country. Apart from India, it also has its global presence in countries like Australia, Thailand, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Hong Kong, Kenya, UK and USA. 


Some of their sevas include-

  • Treatment and corrective surgeries of divyangs and underprivileged people through their hospitals, 
  • Quality education to the underprivileged children through their English medium co-educational school called Narayan Children academy, 
  • Mass wedding ceremonies for divyangs and underprivileged people, 
  • Training and skill development centre called Narayan Shala for divyangs and underprivileged adults, 
  • Taking care of orphan children through their orphanage called Bhagwan Mahaveer Nirashrit Balgrah, and so on.