Poverty has various manifestations: hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion.


Hunger is the condition where both adults and children cannot access food constantly and have to decrease food intake, eat poor diets, and often go without any food


There are basically three current definitions of poverty in common usage;

absolute poverty

relative poverty

social exclusion

Absolute poverty is defined as lack of sufficient resources with which to keep body and soul together

Relative poverty defines income or resources in relation to the average. It is concerned with the absence of material needs to participate fully in accepted daily life

Social exclusion as shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment ,poor skills ,low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown

Issues relating to poverty and hunger

India is one of the fastest growing economies. Despite this, poverty and hunger in India are very high. About 20-35% of children suffer from severe undernutrition in the majority of Indian states. According to India’s 2011 government data, 65 million people live in areas that lack basic facilities, which puts them under the risk of various diseases alongside hunger, which is often life-threatening.

In recently published the Global Hunger Index (GHI), India has slid down, falling behind its South Asian neighbors to rank 101 out of 116 countries. The government has dismissed the report’s ‘unscientific’ methodology.

Issues relating to poverty and hunger

Poverty and hunger have been a universal and increasing menace to humankind. Let us learn about these issues in detail.

Issues relating to Hunger

  • Hunger is the condition where both adults and children cannot access food constantly and have to decrease food intake, eat poor diets, and often go without any food.

Root causes of hunger;

Hunger at global scale is one of the main problems that large number of the global population faces presently. Hunger varies with severity. World hunger has many annoying factors and major causes, such as insufficient economic systems, misinformation, and climate changes. But the main unbearable factor is poverty as poverty always has led to people going without regular meals because they cannot afford to eat. There are majority of people in developing countries such as Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia that are in desperate need of food. It has been observed that with the growth of population, the number of hungry people also increases at an uneven rate.

Among numerous issues, Hunger and malnutrition are closely associated in indian scenario;

  • The Global Study revealed that 42% children in India are underweight and 58% of children are stunted by two years of age.
  • Malnutrition occurs when a person’s body receives little or no nutrients. People who are malnourished get sick more often and as a result in many cases die.
  • Malnutrition is consequently the most important risk factor for the problem of disease in developing countries.
  • It is the direct cause of about 300,000 deaths per year and is indirectly responsible for about half of all deaths in young children.
  • It can be said that world hunger must be taken seriously and should be approached with all deliberate and instant policies.
  • There are different issues of world hunger but the three main ones are poverty, climate changes, and also feeble economies.
  • In India, 21.9% of the population lives below the national poverty line in 2011.
  • In India, the proportion of the employed population below $1.90 purchasing power parity a day in 2011 is 21.2%.
  • For every 1,000 babies born in India in 2017, 39 die before their 5th birthday.
  • Poverty is a condition characterized by lack of basic needs such as water, health care, foods, sufficient access to social and economic services, and few opportunities for formal income generation.
  • Poverty is often described in terms of the income level below which people are unable to access sufficient food for a healthy working life.
  • Hunger and food insecurity are the most serious forms of extreme poverty.
  • Progress in poverty reduction has been concentrated in Asia and especially East Asia. In other areas, the number of people in extreme poverty has increased especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Poverty in India is primarily due to improper government policies and the misuse of the financially weaker section by the wealthier community.

  • Poor health services: It has been observed that People of India have less access to good health services as compared to industrialized nations. The relationship between poverty and access to health care can be seen as part of a larger cycle, where poverty leads to ill health and ill health maintains poverty.
  • Child malnutrition: The occurrence of under-nutrition in India is amongst the highest levels found in any country in the world and in spite of the development in food production, disease control and economic and social development; India is facing an acute problem of child malnutrition.
  • Insufficient education and training: In developing countries, children do not have access to basic education because of inequalities that originate in sex, health and cultural identity. It has been revealed in reports that illiteracy and lack of education are common factor that lead to poverty
  • Other causes include:
    • Population Rise
    • Low Productivity in Agriculture
    • Under-Utilized Resources
    • Low Rate of Economic Development
    • Price Rise
    • Unemployment
    • Shortage of Capital and Able Entrepreneurship
    • Social Factors

What are the causes of poverty (Indian perspective)?

  • Colonial exploitation: India under the colonial hegemony was forced to de-industrialize resulting in increased raw material production and a decrease in the export of value-added goods like traditional handicrafts and textiles. The natives were forced to buy British goods, thus discouraging them from manufacturing indigenously. This led to massive unemployment. The droughts, diseases, and others increased the plight of the Indians during that time.
  • Caste Based Rural Economy: The traditional village economy revolved around a hereditary caste hierarchy that prescribed individuals´ occupations. Upper castes were the landowners, middle-ranked (backward) castes the farmers and artisans, and the lowest-ranked (scheduled) castes the laborers who performed menial tasks. Though after globalization rural economy extending towards semi-urban economy yet right to choose occupation is still massive hurdle for rural population.
  • Increase in the population: the rapid increase in the population due to a decrease in the mortality rate and an increase in the birth rate can be an asset for the Indian economy. However, in the present scenario, this is turning out to be a liability due to massive unemployment and an increase in the dependence on those working populations. The massive population must be converted to human capital to promote the growth of the economy.
  • Natural Calamities: In India, the maximum of the population who belong to BPL is from states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. The reason behind this is that these states are prone to natural disasters and also most of the population in these states are from SC/STs thus making them unrepresented. The natural calamities in these states hamper the agricultural progress and economic development of these states.
  • The rise of unorganised sectors: many sectors in the Indian economy are unorganised. This brings in the problem of labour exploitation. The increase in demand for work also causes job insecurities.
  • Failing Agricultural sector: the agricultural sector is one of the most vulnerable sectors of the Indian economy. Farmer suicides and protests are on the rise due to the increasing debt and decrease in production. This, in the long run, would result in them suffering from poverty. This sector employs a maximum of the Indian population but provides little profit.
  • Lack of investment: The investment provides more job opportunities. For this, the Indian economy must be favourable for foreign investment. However, some parts of India remain unfavourable due to corruption, political instability, militancy etc.
  • Social factors: Illiteracy, unrepresented minorities, social norms, caste systems are still prevalent in certain parts of India.
  • Lack of skilled labour: the population can be an asset to the economy if it is utilized efficiently. This can be done through human capitalization. Measures to improve the literacy of the population are very slow. Some, due to the lack of sufficient skills are not accepted in the workforce. This results in unemployment and poverty.
  • Corruption: Many measures have been taken by the government to eliminate poverty. However, there is still a lack of political will. The corruption by those in power also contributes to poverty.
  • Inefficient use of resources: India is a country that has abundant natural resources which, if utilized efficiently, without wastage, can be turned into an asset.
  • Lack of entrepreneurship: There are many activities in India that can be of asset to the economy. For example, some tribes have rich art and culture which can be utilized for the tribes’ growth and development through proper entrepreneurship. However, due to a lack of leadership and entrepreneurial skills, they go to waste. The tribes remain one of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society.
  • Lack of infrastructure: Many parts of India still remain isolated despite the rapid economic growth. There are several villages in India that still don’t have access to basic commodities like electricity, thus resulting in poor standards of living. They don’t even have proper roads or railways. Their contribution to the economy goes to waste due to inaccessibility.
  • Recession induced by coronavirus pandemic.