Will the Slumdogs ever become Millionaires?

Danny Boyle walked away with nine Oscars by making film on India’s rampant poverty. This is how India is stereotyped by foreign nations. In, fact this is true to a large extent. India has proudly entered its 15th Phase of Lok Sabha Elections but has shamelessly failed to eradicate poverty .Poverty still remains legitimate in most parts of India.


According, to the common definition of poverty, “when a person finds it difficult to meet the minimum requirements of acceptable living standards, he is considered poor”. The Government of India has termed a definition of people who are below poverty line ‘as a person who consumes less than 2100 calories , is considered to be below poverty line.’ The economy watch says that around two billion people round the world are below poverty line. According to the Government estimate in 2007, there were around 220 million people living below poverty line.


Economists in India measure the poverty level on the basis of rural and urban population. The government estimates 21.7% of the entire rural population and 15% of the urban population are below poverty line.


We may often wonder how poverty became so legitimate in India. Well there are several reasons behind it which can be ranged from our deeply embedded culture to government policies .The caste system of India divides people into groups according to their status. This division leads to discrimination among the groups which push the so- called lower rungs of society to the periphery of society; enabling the upper class to access better facilities and opportunities of society. This is the basic crux of how poverty gained ground in India.


Since India breathed its freedom, poverty alleviation programs have remained an integral part of government policies. The government introduced several plans like the public distribution system, Integrated rural development program, Prime Ministers Rojgar Yojana etc .But the sad part is that these advantages hardly percolate to the lowest base of the pyramid that consists of the “Aam Aadmi” . Corruption , reluctance , bureaucracy add fodder to this fire of poverty.


India is trying hard to come out of this vicious circle of poverty .The growing middle class have shifted abroad to earn money from Silicon Valley. India has become a great outsourcing country. But the ghost of present recession multiplied with Obama’s anti-outsourcing policies have decelerated India’s economic growth contributing to Indian poverty


The rural population in India still depend on subsistence agriculture , basic infrastructure and most of them without education .But the most tragic fact is that the chunk of rural population which immigrates to the urban cities in the hope of getting better opportunities; most of them turn out to be slum-dwellers.


There is also a great deal of disparity in poverty ratios among the states. For instance the poverty ratios of Punjab and Delhi are far lesser compared to that of Orissa, Bihar.


Another very special feature of poverty in India is its connection with politics. Poverty alleviation has always been a favorite agenda of political parties to allure the two billion people leaving below poverty line. In the present election scenario, BJP is trying to prove their potency by providing one kilo of rice at Rs.3. whereas Congress is trying to turn people’s eyes towards their achievement in eradicating child poverty through child tax credit system.


Throughout the 62 years of India’s independence governing authorities have had made fake promises’ fooling around people ensuring decrease in poverty ratio. Its time that we use our abundant resource that is “labour”. Political parties should rather change their fundamentalist ideologies to poverty lifting strategies. Plans need to be sorted out in order to harness this rich human resource.


NGOs and many self-help groups have come up with solutions to end this issue. An exuberant example is that of the campaign started by the youth of the Tilonia district of Rajasthan. The students here in Barefoot College generate electricity with the help of solar energy .The Hunger Project active in India since 1984 is mobilizing people to earn their own living and become self-reliant. These groups have given the poor people a lot of space.


These every little step taken by the citizens of India will surely help the poor and the underprivileged rise above the poverty line.


Subina Roy

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/focus2capture/259688790/]