Home   »   Poverty Alleviation

Poverty Alleviation- Programmes, Impact, Five-Year Plans

Poverty alleviation involves lifting people out of poverty, which has numerous positive societal impacts. Government-initiated programs aim to assist the underprivileged by focusing on specific industries to enhance their participation in economic growth and by strengthening social sector programs tailored for vulnerable groups. Understanding poverty alleviation programs is crucial for the UPSC IAS exam, covering a significant portion of the General Studies Paper-2 Syllabus, with a focus on those launched by the Indian government, including recent initiatives.

Poverty Alleviation

Poverty Alleviation encompasses a series of economic and humanitarian measures aimed at eradicating poverty within a nation. In India, Poverty Alleviation Programs are designed to reduce poverty rates by providing households and families below the poverty line with access to food, financial aid, and essential resources.

According to the World Bank, severe poverty, affecting 767 million people worldwide, is defined as living on $1.90 or less per day. Data from the Asian Development Bank reveals that in 2011, 21.9 percent of Indians were living in poverty. The Indian government has established numerous initiatives and programs to combat poverty and meet the basic needs of disadvantaged households.

Below Poverty Line (BPL)

The Below Poverty Line (BPL) serves as an economic criterion for identifying financially disadvantaged individuals and households. Set by the Government of India, BPL is determined based on a specified income threshold. Individuals or households earning below this threshold are categorized as being below the poverty line.

Poverty Alleviation- Programmes, Impact, Five-Year Plans_3.1

Measuring BPL in India

BPL measurement in India hinges on per capita income rather than price levels. It represents the minimum income necessary to afford essential goods and services to meet basic human needs. The proportion of the population falling below this line is termed the poverty ratio or headcount ratio, a method commonly employed by countries and international organizations.

In India, the first official rural and urban poverty lines were established nationally in 1979 by the Y. K. Alagh Committee, each with distinct criteria. Presently, the level of deprivation is evaluated using a scoring system ranging from 0 to 4, based on 13 parameters, as per the Tenth Five-Year Plan.

Families scoring 17 marks or less out of a maximum of 52 are classified as BPL, previously 15 marks or less. The poverty line is recalculated every five years. As per recent estimations considering inflation, the threshold income stands at over Rs. 962 per month for urban areas and Rs. 768 per month for rural areas, translating to above Rs. 32 per day in urban areas and above Rs. 26 per day in rural areas.

Poverty Alleviation in India – Five-Year Plans

India initiated Eleven Five-Year Plans in its endeavor to eradicate poverty. Here is a brief overview of each:

  • First Five-Year Plan (1951-1956): Emphasized agriculture, irrigation, and balanced development.
  • Second Five-Year Plan (1956-1961): Focused on basic and heavy industries, employment growth, and a 25% increase in national income.
  • Third Five-Year Plan (1961-1966): Hampered by conflicts and drought, leading to failure and replaced by three annual plans.
  • Fourth Five-Year Plan (1966-1974): Aiming at 5.5% national income growth, economic stability, and social justice.
  • Fifth Five-Year Plan (1974-1979): Focused on poverty alleviation (Garibi Hatao) and raising masses above poverty line.
  • Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-1985): Emphasized poverty removal, economic growth, unemployment elimination, and technology self-sufficiency.
  • Seventh Five-Year Plan (1985-1990): Targeted poverty reduction and improved living standards.
  • Eighth Five-Year Plan (1992-1997): Aimed at employment generation but faced challenges in meeting targets.
  • Ninth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002): Focused on agriculture, employment, poverty, and infrastructure.
  • Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002-2007): Aiming to reduce poverty ratio to 21% and ensure five years of schooling for children.
  • Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-2012): Targeted reducing poverty by 10%, generating 7 crore new jobs, and providing electricity to all villages.

Poverty Alleviation Programmes of India

Since the early 1950s, the Indian government has initiated, sustained, and enhanced various planning programs aimed at enabling the underprivileged to attain self-sufficiency in acquiring food and overcoming hunger and poverty. These efforts were particularly evident in the successive five-year plans (FYP), with explicit measures aimed at poverty alleviation being incorporated into each of them.

Poverty Alleviation- Programmes, Impact, Five-Year Plans_4.1

List of Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

The Indian government initiated several Poverty Alleviation Programs in the country. Here are some of them listed in the table below:

Schemes Objectives
The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)
  • It was first implemented in 1978–1979 and became universal on October 2, 1980, was created to help the rural poor through the provision of bank credit and subsidies for opportunities to find gainful work
  • IRDP’s major aim is to eliminate poverty, hunger, and unemployment in rural India.
Jawahar Rozgar Yojana/Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JRY)
  • This scheme was established on April 1, 1999, with the aim of improving the lives of the rural poor.
  • Through the development of economic infrastructure, community resources, and social assets, the JRY aimed to provide the unemployed and underemployed in rural areas with meaningful work possibilities.
  • Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana is being implemented entirely at the gram panchayat level.
Indira Awaas Yojana for Rural Housing
  • The Indira Awaas Yojana (LAY) initiative seeks to provide free housing to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in rural regions, with a focus on SC/ST households.
  • A similar scheme like Indira Awas Yojana for the urban poor was launched in 2015 as Housing for All by 2022.
Food for Work Program
  • The Food for Work Programme was founded with the cooperation of the Ministry of Rural Development and state governments.
  • It is one of the important Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India.
  • It Seeks to improve food security by increasing wage employment. States receive free food grain deliveries, but the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns have had trouble keeping up with demand.
  • All rural residents who need to work for a living and desire to perform manual, unskilled labour are eligible for the programme.
National Old Age Pension Scheme
  • The federal government offers this pension. Panchayats and municipalities are tasked with carrying out this scheme across the states and union territories.
  • Depending on the state, the state contribution may change.
Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana
  • It is one of the Policies and programs towards poverty alleviation
  • Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana which combined the provisions of the Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana and the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS), was formed on September 25, 2001. (JGSY).
  • The initiative was to be put into action through the Panchayati Raj institutions (PRIs).
  • The scheme’s primary goals are the creation of wage jobs, the development of long-lasting economic infrastructure in rural areas, and the supply of food and nutrition security for the underprivileged.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005 (MGNREGA)
  • Every rural household is given 100 days of guaranteed employment each year under the Act. Women would only be eligible for one-third of the planned positions.
  • National Employment Guarantee Funds will also be established by the federal government. State governments will also create State Employment Guarantee Funds to carry out the program.
Aajeevika (2011)
  • National Rural Livelihood Mission It develops out of the necessity to give the impoverished in rural areas jobs that pay a consistent monthly wage and to diversify their requirements.
  • To aid the needy, self-help groups are established at the village level.
The National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM)
  • It is one of the important Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India.
  • It organises urban poor people into self-help groups, provides chances for skill development that lead to market-based employment, and assists them in starting their own businesses by assuring easy access to credit.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana
  • This poverty alleviation programme will concentrate on those just entering the workforce, particularly class X and XII dropouts
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana
  • It succeeded in opening 1.5 crore bank accounts and had as its goal the direct benefit transfer of subsidies, pensions, insurance, and other benefits.
  • The programme focuses especially on the unbanked poor.
National Food Security Act (NFSA)
  • The 2013 National Food Security Act (NFSA) now governs the Public Distribution System (PDS)
  • This law covers the Public Distribution System, the Integrated Child Development Services Program, and the Midday Meal Program. The NFSA 2013 also acknowledges maternity benefits.
  • According to demographic projections from the 2011 Census, the Act covers close to two-thirds of the whole population of the nation.
Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSA)
  • The main focus of this scheme is “Sabka Sath, Sabka Gaon, Sabka Vikas”.
    Its main objectives are to advance social harmony, increase public knowledge of government programmes that help the poor, contact low-income households to enrol them and get feedback on various welfare efforts.
  • Over 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) get assistance from the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in enhancing their capacity for governance through inclusive local governance and efficient resource utilisation.
Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY)
  • This poverty alleviation programme aims to integrate the development of specific villages with more than 50% Scheduled Caste (SC) population by implementing current schemes of the Central and State Governments in a convergent manner and making use of gap-filling funds provided as Central Assistance.
Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY)
  • Under the Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), each Member of Parliament (MP) is tasked with improving the physical and socio-economic infrastructure in three villages each by 2019.
  • By 2024, the plan aims to build a total of eight “Adarsh Villages” or “Model Villages.”
NITI Aayog’s Task Force on Poverty Elimination
  • A task force on ending poverty in India was established by NITI Aayog on March 16, 2015, under the leadership of Arvind Panagariya, in accordance with the decision made at the organization’s first meeting of the Governing Council on February 8, 2015, which was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The 2009 approach suggested by a panel of experts led by Suresh D. Tendulkar served as the foundation for the current estimates of poverty.
National Social Assistance Programme
  • The Ministry of Rural Development is in charge of the National Social Assistance Program, a health programme. This programme is being implemented both in urban and rural areas.
  • The National Social Help Programmes helps individuals in need by providing them with social pensions each month.
  • The National Social Assistance Programme is referred to as NSAP. NSAP was launched on August 15, 1995.

Public Distribution System Role in Poverty Alleviation

The Public Distribution System (PDS) serves as a crucial mechanism for managing and distributing food grains, playing a significant role in poverty alleviation in India. Operated jointly by the Central and State Governments, its responsibilities include allocating essential commodities like rice, wheat, kerosene, and sugar, issuing ration cards for those below the poverty line, identifying impoverished families, and managing food scarcity and distribution.

In June 1997, PDS was revamped as the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), overseen by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India. TPDS emphasizes identifying and assisting the poor in accessing food grains effectively, thus enhancing the poverty alleviation efforts.

Impact of Poverty Alleviation Programmes in India

  • The percentage of absolute poverty has decreased below the national average due to successful Poverty Alleviation Programs’ assessments in various states.
  • Despite poverty reduction efforts, issues like hunger, undernourishment, illiteracy, and lack of basic necessities persist in many Indian regions.
  • Over the past 55 years, the approach to poverty reduction has evolved gradually but hasn’t resulted in significant change.
  • Possible changes in program names, integration, or mutations haven’t led to a fundamental shift in asset ownership, production methods, or provision of basic necessities to the poor.

Sharing is caring!


What does it mean to alleviate poverty?

Poverty alleviation aims to improve the quality of life for those people currently living in poverty. Another term that is often used is poverty reduction.

What are the 5 poverty alleviation programs?

Some of the important poverty alleviation programmes in India are integrated rural development programs, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhanmantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Gramin Swaraj Abhiyan, national food security, MGNREGA, and national rural livelihood mission

What are methods of poverty alleviation?

Aid and government support in health, education, and infrastructure helps growth by increasing human and physical capital. Poverty alleviation also involves improving the living conditions of people who are already poor.

What are the main objectives of poverty alleviation?

The objectives of poverty reduction include increasing people's purchasing power, improving employment outcomes for the poor, stimulating economic growth, enhancing efficiency and resource utilization, prioritizing the basic needs of the poor, promoting microfinance programs, improving marketing systems.

How can poverty be reduced in India?

Poverty can be reduced in the following ways:-i Increasing empowerment of women and the economically weaker sections of society. ii Fostering the economic growth. iii Increasing the stress on universal free elementary education. iv Caste and gender discrimination to be avoided.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *