The India Chronic Poverty Report: Towards Solutions and New Compacts in a Dynamic Context, based on decade long studies through three phases of the study project, aims to draw the attention of policy makers and concerned citizens to the gap, or chasm, between our goals, aspirations and targets and what has actually been achieved, at a time when India’s Twelfth Plan is being formulated so that the cause of chronic poverty receives due attention during the Twelfth Plan.
The report has looked at the large numbers of programmes and schemes in various forms that over the years aimed at poverty alleviation, some targeting specific groups, to try and identify why they have not succeeded to the desired extent. Design flaws, weak implementation, inadequate provision of funds, and the inability of the poor to access scheme benefits, are amongst many factors identified and analyzed.
The adoption of a rights based approach to development has been advocated along with a search for an alternative approach to growth that is employment creating and poverty reducing. It has also been emphasized that there can be no one blueprint for such an alternative. In fact, as has been rightly pointed out, multiple solutions need to be worked out due to the country’s diversity and the differentiated picture of poverty, and a multi-pronged approach needs to be evolved.
It is not simply a matter of implementing correct policies more effectively. Factors that cause entry into poverty, those that contribute to persistence of poverty, and those that can help in rising out of poverty, all have to be understood. These are not merely economic in nature but could relate to caste, tribe, gender, age, occupation, health, conflict, politics and the like or a combination of these.
The factors that contribute to escape from rural poverty include the development of infrastructure especially at the village level, proximity to urban areas, acquiring access to land and water resources and enhancing their productivity and sustainability, education and health opportunities, development of institutions, effective service – delivery, and enhanced government investment.
Towards the end of the report a number of recommendations about the direction to be taken have been listed in a brief final chapter.
The “India Chronic Poverty Report: Towards Solutions and New Compacts in a Dynamic Context” is timely, coming as it does while the Approach to the Twelfth Plan is being formulated. Written by a group which has been researching chronic poverty for several years, the Report goes back to speeches made in the Constituent Assembly at time of Independence and reminds us that promises made then on the ‘fight to end poverty, squalor, ignorance and disease’ still remain unfulfilled. It draws attention to the gaps between actual achievements in this regard and constitutional provisions regarding equitable development. - From Foreward by Dr. Abhijit Sen
Hard copies of the report are available for purchase. Please contact the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) for details.