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The government of India and state governments since independence have designed and implemented various poverty alleviation programmes across the country. Some of them have been successful and has helped to lift a lot of people from the poverty line. Though the task is not yet complete, a lot needs to be done so that India becomes a poverty free country in the years to come.

Recent Poverty Updates:
  1. Poverty in India de­clined to a record 22% in 2011- 12 according to planning commission. As a result of various government programmes, pov­erty in India declined to a record 22% in 2011-12, according to the Planning Commission.
  2. Over the last decade, poverty has witnessed a consis­tent decline with the levels dropping from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10.
  3. The number of poor is now estima-ted at 269.3 million, of which 216.5 million reside in rural India.

Govt's poverty alleviation programmes
Alleviation of poverty remains a major challenge before the Government. Acceleration of economic growth, with a focus on sectors which are employment-intensive, facilitates the removal of poverty in the long run. However, this strategy needs to be complemented with a focus laid on provision of basic services for improving the quality of life of the people and direct state intervention in the form of targeted anti-poverty progra­mmes. While growth will continue to be the prime mover, anti-poverty programmes supplement the growth effort and protect the poor from destitution, sharp fluctuations in employment and incomes and social insecurity
The specifically designed anti­poverty programmes for generation of both self-employment and wage-employment in rural areas have been redesigned and restructured in order to enhance their efficacy/ impact on the poor and improve their sustainability.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
The Mahat-ma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) is a law that aims to guarantee the 'right to work' and ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The statute is hailed by the government as "the largest and most ambitious social security and public works programme in the world".
Unlike its precursors, the MG NREGA guaranteed employment as a legal right. However, the problem areas are still the same as they were in the 1960s. The most significant ones are lack of public awareness, mismanagement and above all mass corruption.

It took 30 years of govern­ment experimentation to launch major schemes like Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY), Employ­ment Assurance Scheme (EAS), Food for Work Programme (FVVP), Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY) and Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) that were forerunners to Mahatma Gandhi NREGA. In the process, the government decentralized implementation by providing financial and functional autonomy to the local self-government institutions or Panchayati Raj Institutions (PR1s) in order to fight corruption.

Food Security Act
The government rolled out its most ambitious social welfare scheme - Food Security Act in 2013. It aims to provide cheap food grain to 67% of the population. The Act is the biggest of its kind in the world and is estimated to spend about more than 1.5% of the GDP that might amount to Rs 1,25,000 crore annually for the government. The Act will provide uniform allocation of 5 kg foodgrain (per person) at fixed rate of Rs 3 for rice, Rs 2 for wheat and Rs 1 for coarse grains per kg to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the poor in urban India, which put together would be around 800 million people.

Swarana jayanti        Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)
The single self-employment programme of Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), launched from 1999, has been conceived keeping in view the strengths and weaknesses of the earlier schemes of Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and Allied Programmes along with Million Wells Scheme (MWS). The objective of restructuring was to make the programme more effective in providing sustainable incomes through micro enterprises. The SGSY lays emphasis on focussed approach to poverty alleviation, capitalising advantages of group lending, overcoming the problems associated with multiplicity of programmes. SGSY is conceived as a holistic programme of micro enterprises covering all aspects of self employment viz. organisation of the rural poor into self help groups (SHGs) and their capacity building, planning of activity clusters, infrastructure build up, technology credit and marketing.
Under the SGSY, the focus is on vulnerable sections among the rural poor with SCs/STs accounting for 50%, women 40% and the disabled 3% of the beneficiaries.

Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (YGSY)
The Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) has been recast as the Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY) to impart a thrust to creation of rural infrastructure. While the JRY resulted in creation of wage employment. It was felt that a stage had come when rural infrastructure needed to be taken up in a planned manner and given priority. The Gram Panchayats can effectively determine their infrastructure needs and the responsibility of implementing the programme has been entrusted to the Gram Panchayats. The funds are directly released to the Gram Panchayats by the DRDAs/Zilla Parishads. The JGSY is implemented with funding in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and the States. The primary objective of JGSY is creation of demand driven community village infrastructure including durable assets at the village level and assets to enable the rural poor to increase the opportunities for sustained employment. The secondary objective is generation of supplementary employment for the unemployed poor in the rural areas. The wage employment under the programme is given to Below Poverty Lines (BPL) families. While there is no sectoral earmarking of resources under JGSY, 22.5% of the annual allocation must be ''spent on individual beneficiary schemes for SCs/STs and 3% is to be utilised for creation of barrier free infrastructure for the disabled.

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)
The NSAP was launched as a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme with the aim to provide social assistance benefit to poor households in the case of old age, death of primary breadwinner and maternity. The programme supplements the efforts of the state governments with the objective of ensuring minimum national levels of well being and the Central assistance is an addition to the benefit that the States are already providing on Social Protection Schemes or may provide in future. The provision of Central assistance seeks to ensure that social protection to beneficiaries is uniformly available. The main features of the three components of the NSAP namely; (i) National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), (ii) National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) and (iii) National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS).
In National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) old age pension of Rs 75 per month, per beneficiary is provided to person of 65 years and above who is a destitute in the sense of having little or no regular means of subsistence from his/ her own sources of income or through support from family members or other sources.

National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS)
A lump sum cash assistance of Rs 500 is provided to pregnant women of households below the poverty line up to the first two live births provided they are of 19 years of age and above. The maternity benefit is to be disbursed in one installment, 12- 8 weeks prior to the delivery. In case of delay it can be disbursed to the beneficiary even after the birth of the child. The NSAP is implemented by the state/Union territories (UT) with assistance from panchayats and municipal functionaries. Each State/UT has a nodal department identified for implementing the scheme. In the districts, there are District Level Committees on NSAP.
The gram panchayats have an active role in the identifi­cation of beneficiaries under NSAP. The state governments communicate targets for the three components of NSAP to panchayats so that identification of beneficiaries can suitably be made by gram panchayat committees in line with these targets. In case of cash disburse­ment, the payments are to be made in public meetings prefe­rably of Gram Sabha meetings in villages, and of neighbourhood committees in urban areas. The panchayats are responsible for disseminating information about NSAP and the procedures for obtaining benefits under it. In this task, the panchayats and municipali­ties are encouraged to seek the cooperation of voluntary agencies to the extent possible for identifying beneficiaries and persuading them to avail of the benefits intended for them.

Annapurna Scheme
In 2000, the government launched Annapurna to provide food security to those senior citizens who are not covered under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and who have no income of their own and none to take care of them, in the village. It provides 10 kg of food grains per month free of cost to all such persons who are eligible for old age pensions but are presently not receiving it and whose children are not residing in the same village; The Gram Panchayats would be required to identify, prepare and display a list of such persons.

India has come a long way in giving benefits to the needy. And in order give livelihood opportunities, the government has framed a number of policies which are benefiting the poor people, but alot is yet to be achieved.

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