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Poverty: A Social Issue in the Society

AUTHOR: Harsh Singh

DESIGNATION: 1st Year Law Student, Shambhunath Institute of Law (SIL)

Contact: 775*******



“Poverty: The worst form of violence”.

“The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.”

“Poverty is a social evil”

Poverty is the condition of a person when he cannot fulfill his basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and shelter. We can define poverty as the condition where the basic needs of a family, like food, shelter, clothing, and education are not fulfilled. It can lead to other problems like poor literacy, unemployment, malnutrition, etc. A poor person is not able to get an education due to a lack of money and therefore remains unemployed. An unemployed person is not able to buy enough & nutritious food for his family and their health decline. A weak person lacks the energy required for the job. A jobless person remains poor only. Thus we can say that poverty is the root cause of other problems. Poverty is the state of not having enough material possessions or income for a person's basic needs. Poverty may include social, economic, and political elements.


“Poverty is not natural, it is man-made”.

The above statement is true as the causes of poverty are generally man-made. There are various causes of poverty but the most important is population. The rising population is putting a burden on the resources & budget of countries. Governments are finding it difficult to provide food, shelter & employment to the rising population. The other causes are- lack of education, war, natural disaster, lack of employment, lack of infrastructure, political instability, etc. For instance- lack of employment opportunities makes a person jobless & he is not able to earn enough to fulfill the basic necessities of his family & becomes poor. Lack of education compels a person for less paying jobs & it makes him poorer. Lack of infrastructure means there are no industries, banks, etc. a country resulting in a lack of employment opportunities. Natural disasters like floods, earthquakes also contribute to poverty. In some countries, especially African countries like Somalia, a long period of civil war has made poverty widespread.


Poverty affects the life of a poor family. A poor person is not able to take proper food & nutrition & his capacity to work reduces. Reduced capacity to work further reduces his income, making him poorer. Children from poor families never get proper schooling & proper nutrition. They have to work to support their family & this destroys their childhood. Some of them may also involve in crimes like theft, murder, robbery, etc. A poor person remains uneducated & is forced to live under unhygienic conditions in slums. There are no proper sanitation & drinking water facility in slums & he falls ill often & his health deteriorates. A poor person generally dies an early death. So, all social evils are related to poverty. Poverty also prevents people off from accessing much-needed social tools of well-being like education and health requirements.


Global Poverty Act was a bill in the U.S Congress co-sponsored by 84 Representatives and 30 senators. The Global Poverty Act would have required U.S. President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day. This would require the United States to add 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product (23 billion to 98 billion a year) to its overall spending on Humanitarian Aid. This bill has been endorsed by Habitat for Humanity, Bread for the World.


Harvard Law defines poverty law as,

"the legal statutes, regulations, and cases that apply particularly to the financially poor in his or her day to day life".

In a common sense understanding and in practice, the goal of poverty law is to protect the disadvantaged poor from unfair treatment by the law. Poverty law often overlaps with federal benefits and welfare policies. Pertinent federal government benefits include Medic aid; cash public assistance (more commonly known as Welfare); and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, previously known as the food stamps program. Poverty law frequently involves questions of administrative law, civil rights law, constitutional law, employment law, and health law.


Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY)

National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)

National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)

National Maternity Benefit Scheme

Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana


The government of India also took several measures to eradicate poverty from India. Some of them are–creating employment opportunities, controlling the population, etc. In India, about 60% of the population is still dependent on agriculture for its livelihood. The government has taken certain measures to promote agriculture in India. The government constructed certain dams & canals in our country to provide easy availability of water for irrigation. The government has also taken steps for the cheap availability of seeds & farming equipment to promote agriculture. The government is also promoting the farming of cash crops like cotton, instead of food crops. In cities, the government is promoting industrialization to create more jobs. The government has also opened ‘Ration shops’. Other measures include providing free & compulsory education for children upto14 years of age, scholarships to deserving students from a poor background, providing subsidized houses to poor people, etc.


  1. Chenery, H., M.S.Ahluwalia, J.H. Duloy and R.Jolly, 1974] Redistribution with Growth, Oxford University Press

  2. Drèze, J. and A. K. Sen [1989] Hunger and Public Action, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  3. Kuznets, S, [1955] "Economic Growth and Income Inequality", American Economic Review, XLV(1) March, pp.1-28.









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