News: A recent World Bank Report has shown that extreme poverty in India has come down from 22.5% in 2011 to 10.2%. Further, the reduction was in rural areas from 26.3% to 11.6% which was higher than urban areas.
How poverty in rural areas was reduced at a faster pace.?
First, the identification of deprived households on the basis of the Socioeconomic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 across welfare programmes. The SECC used key deprivation criterion. This led to greater coverage of SC and ST communities and the backward regions in Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, UP, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Rajasthan and rural areas of Maharashtra.
Second, the PRI-SHG partnership catalysed changes. This increased the pace of poverty reduction. Further, Aadhar enabled an ecosystem for curbing corruption at several levels. This partnership increased coverage of women under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana etc.
Third, Finance Commission transfers were made directly to gram panchayats. This helped in creation of basic infrastructure like pucca village roads and drains etc. at a much faster pace in rural areas. The infrastructure creation programme created greater opportunities for employment in rural areas.
Fourth, the focus on livelihood diversification (both farm and non-farm livelihoods) and availability of credit increased in the rural areas under the NRLM. The social capital of SHGs was leveraged. The credits were provided by banks, micro-finance institutions and MUDRA loans.
Fifth, the schemes for gas and electricity connections, LED bulbs, accident insurance, life insurance, bank accounts and immunisation were very well implemented due to community-led action under the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 2018.
Sixth, there was also thrust on universal coverage for individual household latrines, LPG connections and pucca houses.
Seventh, during this period, huge amounts of public funds were transferred to rural areas for development efforts.
Eighth, there was thrust on a “people’s plan campaign”, “Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas” for preparing the Gram Panchayat Development Plans from 2017-18 onwards. This laid the foundation for robust community participation involving panchayats and SHGs, especially in ensuring accountability.
Ninth, social and concurrent audits were organized to ensure full utilization of the funds and resources.
Tenth: The programmes like the MGNREGS were upgraded to create durable and productive assets. This helped marginal and small farmers in improving their homesteads, and diversifying livelihoods.
Tenth, this was an era of competitive federalism. Nearly all states and UTs focussed on improving livelihood diversification in rural areas and on improving infrastructure significantly.
All these factors contributed to improved ease of living of deprived households and improved their asset base.
What are the challenges ahead?
The pandemic and the Ukraine crisis are posing challenges to the gains made in poverty reduction up to 2019.
Source: The post is based on an article “This is how poverty in rural India came down” published in the Indian Express on 09th May 2022.