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The Vicious Cycle of Poverty in India

Poverty is a terrible blight on humanity. A poor person's existence is dreadful because they are unable to enjoy even the most essential of life, rendering him morally degraded. These folks are treated unfairly by society, which demoralizes them. Poverty is a distinct challenge that many countries have had to deal with. This is a grim reality for a substantial portion of the Indian population as well. 


Most of the poor in India are stuck in chronic indebtedness, malnutrition, unemployment, and ill health. Over the years, there has been a disproportionate increase in poverty amongst scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, elderly people, women, and other marginalized sections in India. Noting that India’s growth is expected to continue and elimination of extreme poverty in the decade is within reach, it is still considered one of the country’s substantial challenges.


Poverty in India is a never-ending cycle. The root cause of poverty in our country starts with the inequality of wealth distribution and the disparity between the lower and the upper classes. If trends are to be considered, approximately 70 persons own no more than 25% of total assets, while approximately 29 people own less than a quarter percent. 


As a result, over half of the remaining wealth would be controlled by just one individual. That is  how skewed wealth distribution is! The reason behind this is that not only are the rich consolidating half of the wealth through crony capitalism and inheritance, but also the per capita income is disproportionate between different states of India. That wealth should be converged towards the other, through which one state is developing at the expense of the other.


The cycle of poverty usually begins with a poor household. As a result, parents who abuse drugs, commit crimes or have health problems can represent a dysfunctional family. These problems can then combine with a lack of food or a dirty environment to generate health concerns, leading to a child's lack of enthusiasm to complete schoolwork. It has been proven that if a person stops pursuing a higher degree, they will fall into poverty.


In a developing country like India, an unskilled and uneducated person has a shallow scope to grow and earn. The Labour skill of an educated person is more than that of an uneducated person, which enables him to make comparatively more. 


India lags behind other countries in providing quality education to its youth which involves higher education. The Indian government spends much less on tertiary education preventing the youth from getting higher-paid jobs requiring a skill. India only spent 3% of its total GDP on education in 2020, which is insufficient for growth in this sector. The lack of resources and prerequisites are thus allowing the vicious cycle to repeat for generations. Therefore, these children will grow up believing that poverty is the new norm. 


Lack of access to resources or assets is a unifying characteristic of poverty in all its manifestations. In India, around 3/4th of the poor still reside in villages. Agricultural poverty is one of the major challenges in India. 


A large section of the rural poor in India are small and marginal farmers. With the rapid growth of population and without any alternative sources of employment, the per head availability of land decreases. As a result, the land gets divided into small fragments, yielding negligible crops to the farmers. This is the major reason behind rural poverty in India. 

The land reform laws had failed the majority of the Indian population, and the poorest farmers did not seem to benefit from it. People in the urban areas, on the other hand, somehow manage to find some source of daily wage for themselves. Thus, the divide between rural and urban poor is a problem that persists.  


In today’s capitalistic environment, the disparity between the rich and the poor is widening daily. The privileged class will always have resources at their disposal but the cost of the poor. With India, fast adopting capitalistic policies, the poor will be neglected and pushed to the periphery. 


Do we ever spare a minute to wonder how many people go to sleep hungry at night? When we consider the plight of the poor and how they are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, we realize how much more we have to offer the world and how much more we could have done to end poverty. 


Nelson Mandela once said, “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can only be removed by the actions of human beings.”, therefore only human beings who can work and strive towards a better living for the whole race of humanity.


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