Poverty in India
There has been no uniform measure of poverty in India. The Planning Commission of India has accepted the Tendulkar Committee report which says that 37% of people in India live below the poverty line.
The Arjun Sengupta Report (from National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector) states that 77% of Indians live on less than Indian Rupee ₹ 20 a day (about $0.50 per day), also N.C. Saxena Committee report states that 50% of Indians live below the poverty line.
A study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 645 million poor living under the MPI in India, 421 million of whom are concentrated in eight North Indian and East Indian states of Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This number is higher than the 410 million poor living in the 26 poorest African nations.
Estimates by NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) show that 48% of the Indian households earn more than Indian Rupee ₹90,000 (US$1,998) annually (or more than US$ 3 PPP per person). According to NCAER, in 2009, of the 222 million households in India, the absolutely poor households (annual incomes below Indian Rupee 45,000) accounted for only 15.6% of them or about 35 million (about 200 million Indians). Another 80 million households are in income levels of Indian Rupee 45,000– 90,000 per year. These numbers also are more or less in line with the latest World Bank estimates of the “below-the-poverty-line” households that may total about 100 million (or about 456 million individuals)
The World Bank estimates that 80% of India’s population lives on less than $2 a day which means a higher proportion of its population lives on less than $2 per day as compared with sub-Saharan Africa.  Impact of poverty
Since the 1950s, the Indian government and non-governmental organizations have initiated several programs to alleviate poverty, including subsidizing food and other necessities, increased access to loans, improving agricultural techniques and price supports, and promoting education and family planning. These measures have helped eliminate famines, cut absolute poverty levels by more than half, and reduced illiteracy and malnutrition.
Presence of a massive parallel economy in the form of black (hidden) money stashed in overseas tax havens and underutilisation of foreign aid have also contributed to the slow pace of poverty alleviation in India.
Although the Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades, its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas. Between 1999 and 2008, the annualized growth rates for Gujarat (8.8%), Haryana (8.7%), or Delhi (7.4%) were much higher than for Bihar (5.1%), Uttar Pradesh (4.4%), or Madhya Pradesh (3.5%). Poverty rates in rural Orissa (43%) and rural Bihar (41%) are among the world’s most extreme.
Despite significant economic progress, one quarter of the nation’s population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of 12 rupees per day (approximately US$ 0.25).
According to a recently released World Bank report, India is on track to meet its poverty reduction goals. However by 2015, an estimated 53 million people will still live in extreme poverty and 23.6% of the population will still live under US$1.25 per day. This number is expected to reduce to 20.3% or 268 million people by 2020. However, at the same time, the effects of the worldwide recession in 2009 have plunged 100 million more Indians into poverty than there were in 2004, increasing the effective poverty rate from 27.5% to 37.2%.
As per the 2001 census, 35.5% of Indian households availed of banking services, 35.1% owned a radio or transistor, 31.6% a television, 9.1% a phone, 43.7% a bicycle, 11.7% a scooter, motorcycle or a moped, and 2.5% a car, jeep or van; 34.5% of the households had none of these assets. According to Department of Telecommunications of India the phone density has reached 33.23% by December 2008 and has an annual growth of 40%. This tallies with the fact that a family of four with an annual income of 1.37 lakh rupees could afford some of these luxury items.  Causes of poverty in India
Caste system Further information: Caste system in India
According to S. M. Michael, Dalits constitute the bulk of poor and unemployed.
According to William A. Haviland, casteism is widespread in rural areas, and continues to segregate Dalits. Others, however, have noted the steady rise and empowerment of the Dalits through social reforms and the implementation of reservations in employment and benefits.
Caste explanations of poverty fail to account for the urban/rural divide. Using the UN definition of poverty, 65% of rural forward castes are below the poverty line.  British era
The Mughal era ended at about 1760. Jawaharlal Nehru claimed “A significant fact which stands out is that those parts of India which have been longest under British rule are the poorest today.” The Indian economy was purposely and severely deindustrialized, especially in the areas of textiles and metal-working, through colonial privatizations, regulations, tariffs on manufactured or refined Indian goods, taxes, and direct seizures.  India’s economic policies
A rural worker drying cow dung in Bihar.
In 1947, the average annual income in India was US$439, compared with US$619 for China, US$770 for South Korea, and US$936 for Taiwan. By 1999, the numbers were US$1,818; US$3,259; US$13,317; and US$15,720, respectively. (numbers are in 1990 international Maddison dollars) In other words, the average income in India was not much different from South Korea in 1947, but South Korea became a developed country by 2000s. At the same time, India was left as one of the world’s poorer countries.
License Raj refers to the elaborate licenses, regulations and the accompanying red tape that were required to set up and run business in India between 1947 and 1990. The License Raj was a result of India’s decision to have a planned economy, where all aspects of the economy are controlled by the state and licenses were given to a select few. Corruption flourished under this system.
The labyrinthine bureaucracy often led to absurd restrictions – up to 80 agencies had to be satisfied before a firm could be granted a licence to produce and the state would decide what was produced, how much, at what price and what sources of capital were used. —BBC
India had started out in the 1950s with: high growth rates, openness to trade and investment, a promotional state, social expenditure awareness and macro stability but ended the 1980s with: low growth rates, closure to trade and investment, a license-obsessed, restrictive state (License Raj), inability to sustain social expenditures and macro instability, indeed crisis.
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