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Poverty is a
widespread condition in India. It includes not only economic instability but
also social discrimination and exclusion, lack of basic services, such as
education, health, water and sanitation, and lack of participation in decision
making. In September
2015, the post 2015 UN Development Agenda, comprising of 17 Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) that address the key concerns of humanity and 169
interlinked Targets will be adopted, replacing the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs). These ambitious and aspirational SDGs call for significant rethinking
in development processes across the world. Building on the MDGs, the SDGs
propose to end poverty and deprivation in all forms, leaving no one behind,
while making development economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.
The Government of India has also adopted the principle of Sabka Sath, Sabka
Vikas (“Together with All, Development for All”), and stated that the
“first claim on development belongs to the poor”.

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Poverty in India:

is a significant issue in India. The World Bank reviewed and proposed revisions
in May 2014, to its poverty calculation methodology and purchasing power parity
basis for measuring poverty worldwide, including India. According to this
revised methodology, the world had 872.3 million people below the new poverty
line, of which 179.6 million people lived in India. In other words, India with
17.5% of total world’s population had 20.6% share of world’s poorest in 2011. Planning Commission of India defined poverty and
measured on calorie based both in rural and urban areas. It is defined that
below poverty lines (BPL) people consumed 2400 Kcal / day in rural areas and
2100 Kcal/day in urban areas.  Suresh
Tendulkar Committee recommended BPL as Rs. 27 in rural areas and 33 in urban
areas report submitted in 2011-12, but former RBI Governor, C. Rangarajan Committee
submitted a report  Govt that in the year
2014 that BPL as those spending Rs. 32/- per day in rural areas and Rs. 47/- in
urban cities. Majority of the rural poor in India are poor because, lack of
assets like land and unemployment. Besides this caste, race, ethnicity, gender
are other dimension.

Initiatives for Poverty Eradication:

An important anti-poverty program has focused on
generating employment through public works that help develop agricultural
infrastructure, productive assets and entrepreneurship-based livelihood
opportunities. With the inspiration of free independent India, Govt. of India
initiated allocated lion share in the financial budgets to change the socio
economic and political areas. Different rural development programmes and
schedules were introduced. The Community Development programme (CDP) was
introduced on October 2nd 1952. It focuses on self-governance and develops
leadership at gross root level. Some other programmes like Intensive
Agriculture Areas Development Programme, Drought prone Area Programme (DPAP),
Hill Area Development Programme, command Area Development Programme and
Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) implemented during 1970 to 1980.
National Rural Employment Programme (NREGP), Rural Labor Employment Guarantee
Programme (RLEGP) and Jawahar Rojgar Yojana (JRM) are also some of the poverty
alleviation programmes. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee
Programme (MGNREGP) is flagship programme that implemented in the year 2006.
This programme main objective in to provide wage employment 100 days in a Calendar
year and also extended 150 days in a year in mandatory.

Eradication and Sustainable Development Goals:

September 2015, a new set of development goals have been agreed by 193
countries in a special summit at the United Nations (UN). These are called
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to end poverty, achieve gender
equality and ensure food security in every corner of the globe by 2030. Poverty eradication seems to be one of the main
priorities of this grand framework. SDGs have marked the end of development
as poverty eradication.

To be more specific the first
target of this goal that states: By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all
people everywhere. It also aims
to ensure social protection for the poor and vulnerable, increased access to
basic services and support people harmed by climate-related extreme events and
other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters. Ending poverty in all its forms everywhere implies
attention to both completely eliminating extreme poverty while attending to
other key socio-economic, cultural, political and environmental dimensions of
poverty, and monitoring progress in social protection and inequality.


2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured
as people living on less than $1.25 a day

2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all
ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions

nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all,
including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the

2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable,
have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services,
ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance,
natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including

2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and
reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and
other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters

There is compelling evidence that
India has achieved following the economic reforms initiated in 1991 has led to
significant reduction in poverty. Poverty has fallen across all economic,
social and religious groups nationally and in all states in the post-reform
era. Sustained growth (6.2% from 1993- 94 to 2003-04 and 8.3% from 2004-05 to
2011-12) has created gainful employment and helped raise wages thereby directly
empowering the poor.

 It has also brought the government an
increased volume of revenues enabling it to sustain a high level of social
spending and, thus, doubling the direct effect of growth on poverty. Several
large-scale anti-poverty programmes have been implemented. The Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, for instance, has generated over 2
billion person-days of employment during 2016-17 alone, largely for the
disadvantaged sections of society. Additionally, initiatives have been launched
for providing pension and insurance to workers in the unorganised sector,
widows and the differently abled. Over 130 million people have accessed life
and accident insurance under these programmes.

Further, efforts are underway
to universalize access to basic services. In order to achieve the goal of
housing for all by 2022, direct financial assistance is being extended to poor
households. Nearly 3.21 million houses were constructed last year as part of
this initiative in rural areas. Programmes are also being implemented for
ensuring access to education, health and nutrition security, with a special
focus on vulnerable groups such as women and children. Other priority areas are
drinking water and sanitation. Currently, nearly 77.5% of rural habitations are
being provided with 40 litres of drinking water per capita on a daily basis.
Another 18.9% habitations have been covered partially thus far. Over 63.7% of
households in rural areas had access to an improved sanitation facility in
2016-17 as compared to 29.1% in 2005-06. With respect to clean sources of
cooking fuel, over 22 million families have been provided with Liquefied
Petroleum Gas connections under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. Between
2005-06 and 2015-16, households having access to clean fuel have increased from
25.5% to 43.8%.

Social work response for poverty eradication:

Social work directly addressed many of the factors
associated with poverty at the individual, household, and community
levels.  It includes

Ø  Encouraging and supporting individuals and households to
start income-generating activities (IGAs): This activity targeted the underlying problem of lack of employment or
under-employment, and the resultant lack of incomes or low incomes. This
strategy targeted entire communities and also vulnerable groups like women, youths,
the elderly, refugees, and orphans and other vulnerable children. Some of the
IGAs introduced and taken up by individuals, households and social groups
included animal husbandry of piggery, chicken, goats, as well as starting
small-scale businesses.

Ø   Support of
education at primary and secondary education: This enables children who otherwise
would not get an opportunity to live decent lives in the future. This strategy
also reduces on the burden of care and expenditures of poor families, thus freeing
the limited resources to meet their basic needs.

Ø  Resource mobilization and provision: This involved two distinct approaches, namely: remedial
approach and the more developmental approach. The former involves giving relief
assistance in form of food, accommodation and medical care to some social
groups such as refugees. The latter involves some agencies providing grants,
improved seeds, and animals. Other agencies encouraged people to save and
access microfinance loans for investment in productive ventures.

Ø  Brokering role:
Social workers play a brokering role by linking people to resources and
technical services such as those of extension workers within their communities and
outside. Linking farmers to markets makes social workers assume other roles of
community organizers and empowerment agents.

Ø  Capacity-building:
This addresses the underlying problem of limited practical knowledge and skills
in production processes, as well as powerlessness. It largely involves training
and providing information to entire communities and vulnerable social groups
such as farmers, women, orphans and vulnerable children, youths, the elderly
and community leaders.

Ø  Community organization and counseling: This involves mobilizing people with the same problem
or concern to form groups purposely for pooling ideas, resources and power
together for problem-solving and development. Groups were perceived a potent
force for pulling people out of poverty as they would support each other and
get linked to government programmes and non-governmental organisations more
easily than if they worked alone.

Ø  Promotion of positive attitudes and work ethics among
community members: The major
technique used was discouraging certain practices such as thriftiness in spending
and instead encouraging savings and hard work. In other words, social workers
inculcated work ethics in the communities for poverty reduction. They also
handle domestic violence, gender inequalities and injustices which disintegrate
families – making it difficult for individuals to commit them to production for

Ø   Prevention and
promotion of good health: Social workers largely reported providing
education on health issues to communities and specific groups of youths on HIV/
AIDS. Social workers also worked on other preventive health programmes like
those for prevention of blindness, water and sanitation as well as HIV control.
Social workers sensitised people about existing services and opportunities
(such as reproductive health services) and encouraged the people to use the
services. Social workers also encourage people to create their own services on
a self-help basis. This implies another role of community organisers.

Ø  Advocacy and mediation: These are roles that respond to poverty as a function of abuse of rights,
marginalisation and exclusion. Social workers mediate to secure resources and
opportunities for marginalised groups such as poor women, persons with
disability and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

Ø  Research and advice on policy: This role was undertaken by social workers working
largely in consultancy firms and the research department of parliament. The
latter had an edge over advising on policy to members of parliament since they
are near each other socially and physically. Less than 10% of the social
workers were engaged in this role.


India has, over the past years, directed its development
pathway to meet its priorities of employment, economic growth, food, water and
energy security, disaster resilience and poverty alleviation. Achieving the
SDGs in a country as diverse as India will definitely be a Herculean task, but
not unachievable. We need to clearly identify priorities, have locally relevant
and people-centric development policies, and build strong partnerships. The
government also needs to have a focused plan for tracking and evaluating impact
and scaling up successful interventions. The SDGs are a direction and a vision
for India to ensure prosperity and growth both social and economic. Social work recognizes its core contribution in addressing
social issues from a human rights perspective and targeting vulnerable groups.

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