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5. Poverty, purchasing power & food security

5. Poverty, purchasing power & food security

The National Nutrition Policy has recently been formulated in India. Appropriately, it starts with the adverse impact of poverty on nutritional status of people. "Widespread poverty resulting in chronic and persistent hunger is the single biggest scourge of the developing world today. The physical expression of this continuously re-enacted tragedy is the condition of under-nutrition which manifests itself among large section of the poor, particularly among the women and children. This condition of under nutrition, therefore, reduces work capacity and productivity amongst adults and enhances mortality and morbidity amongst children. Such reduced productivity translates into reduced earning capacity, leading to further poverty and the vicious cycle goes on. " (NNP 1993)


Poverty related issues have always been a matter of greatest concern for the developing countries, which are having a running battle with this scourge. Of late, especially since the second half of the eighties, these issues have also started disturbing those thinkers, political activists, policy makers etc. in the developed countries and the economists working in international organisations, who feel that such stark contradiction in respect of such a basic requirement of human life cannot go on and it is for the good of the entire mankind that poverty, hunger and wastages of human lives is banished from the entire face of the earth as early as possible. Food for all and the food and nutrition security have at least started getting talked about and these efforts have finally led to adoption of a World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition at Rome in December 1992. The structural adjustment programmes undertaken in many countries have also forced policy makers and intellectuals to consider impact of these adjustments on the nutritional status of people. "In particular, in the second half of the decade, the need for special attention to poverty issues induced or overlooked by adjustment programmes was widely acknowledged in Bank (World) documents. One component of current approach to poverty with adjustment is an attention to investments in human capital in general and nutrition in particular, More concretely, future interventions might benefit from continued assessment of whether explicit nutrition programmes are more appropriate than broad policy considerations, whether targeted programmes are more effectively implemented than broad based measures in all environments and whether nutrition is best promoted by food policy and food oriented subsidies or by health and sanitation programmes (Alderman, 1992). Of course, the policies will differ from country to country and will depend largely on the complexities of problems and resources endowment of different countries. As far as India is concerned, it has opted for an integrated policy. Till the end of IVth Plan, India's main emphasis was on the aggregate growth of the economy and reliance was placed on the percolation effects of growth. "In the face of continuing poverty and malnutrition, an alternative strategy of development, comprising a frontal attack on poverty, unemployment and malnutrition became a national priority from the beginning of the V Plan. This shift in strategy has given rise to a number of inter-ventions to increase the purchasing power of the poor; to improve the provision of basic service to the poor and to devise a security system through which the most vulnerable sections of the poor, viz. women & children, can be protected". (NMP, 1993)

Food & Purchasing Power

Household food security is a function not only of availability of food but also of the purchasing power available with each household. It has now been well established that at the global level availability of food is not a problem. Even at our national level, availability of foodgrains is not the real problem, it is prevailing poverty amongst a large number of household that comes in the way of achieving households food security. There may be abundance of food but it is no help to the poor households if it has no access to that. "There is no assurance of deliverance from hunger unless those charged with the tasks of governing him (the poor) take conscious and deliberate steps to channel that abundance in his direction so that he can absorb the little he needs". (Vanugopal, 1992). It will, therefore, be worthwhile to see as to what is the status of poverty in India that impairs the purchasing power, which ultimately results in food-insecure households and what programmes have been launched to combat it.

It is said that India has achieved self-sufficiency in the matter of foodgrains but what exactly one means when one says this. To my mind, in our case it loosely refers to the fact that India is no longer required to import foodgrains and can even export some and even when it has to resort to imports once in a while, it is a very small quantity and that too only once in a while. For example, in the current decade, India imported two million tons of wheat and 0.6 million tons or rice in 1988 and 3 million tons of wheat and 0.2 million tons of rice in 1992, both these imports coming after a gap of four years. Thus, even when it was required to import cereals, such imports were only around 1.5% of the total foodgrains produced in India. India has, therefore, achieved self sufficiency in foodgrains production in that particular manner of speaking. It certainly can legitimately take pride in being able to manage the existing demand for foodgrains with indigenous production. But what about the suppressed demand, the demand that should have been there but it is not there due to poverty ? Effective demand and consequent consumption of required quantity of foodgrains is not what it should be; otherwise millions would not have been below poverty line, not being able to consume at least minimum levels of calories even if we keep other nutrients out of consideration for the time being. Many of the households, have, therefore, inadequate access of foodgrains and are food insecure to that extent. The root cause of such non-access or food in-security is poverty and one has to understand this in order to appreciate the contradiction between food self sufficiency on the one hand and prevailing malnutrition on the other. This lack of access or lack of purchasing power has been forcefully brought out by Amartya Sen when he describes it as deprivation due to non-entitlement or "the inability of certain people to command food through the legal means available in the society, including the use of production possibilities, trade opportunities, entitlement vis-a-vis the State and other methods of acquiring food" (Amartya Sen, 1981). He goes on to say that a "person starves either because he does not have the ability to command enough food or because he does not use this ability to avoid starvation." In India, large scale unemployment is a great aggravating factor and in conjunction with rapidly growing population, severely impairs the purchasing power of a large number of households or forces the families to acquire purchasing power at a certain social cost like child labour. The magnitude of the problem can be imagined when we find that" unemployment which w as of the order of 2-3 crores (23 million) during the beginning of Eighth Plan in 1992, is expected to increase by another 3.5 crores by the end of the plan in 1997, implying an increase of 7 hundred thousand unemployed each year in the country. With the introduction of NEP (New Economic Policies) and the arrival of multinationals and, along with the open markets, the resulting international competition will force induction of more sophisticated & modern technologies which are known to employ greater automation and lesser man power". (KB Sahay, 1994). The country will have to face this menace with all the capacity at its command & no wonder, that the Prime Minister, while delivering his address at Harvard during his recent visit to USA has observed that, "In developed countries, the income of unemployed is protected through social welfare; yet social problem constantly arise...Compensated employment cannot be a substitute for employment. Unemployment becomes a symbol of rejection, of being unwanted in society." (Prime Minister Narsirnha Rao, as quoted by Vir Singhvi, 1994). India has to find employment for its teeming millions. Let us also see who are these "poor" households which, on account of their poverty, are unable to effectively register their demand and purchase even the minimum quantity of foodgrains required for the entire family's nutritional well-being. These are essentially said to be those living below the poverty line. Quite a lot has already been written about the concept of the poverty line but it is necessary of briefly dwell on the concept here. In fact, the definition of poverty itself and the yardstick to measure it are matters of intense ideological and technical controversy. To complicate the issue further, the measure of poverty line itself is not able to adequately describe the "extent" of poverty of a large variety of people living within that "line". However, in a layman's language, people who have to go to bed hungry; people who do not know whether they will get work the next day; people who do not possess minimum clothes to wear; people who have no access to potable water and the very primary health care and people who do not have a shelter over their heads are the poor people. The poor consist of not only the very poor who are as clearly visible in a society as 'a raw wound on a bare human body' but also those in whose case the raw visible manifestations of poverty are not noticeable at the first sight and who suffer from under-employment; non availability of regular wage earnings; farmers at risk; cultivators farming in risk areas prone to drought, floods, and people forced to migrate etc. and so on. There could also be households, albeit a small number, which could have afforded enough food for the entire family if first priority was given to food or where the male provider of the family is a drunkard or where some members do not get adequate food due to gender bias. However, while providing a reasonable standard of living to all may take some time, at least adequate food to all individuals has to be quickly assured. Without adequate food, people cannot break the vicious cycle of poverty. Thus, in our country, poverty has greatly influenced food insecurity and we have, therefore, to determine the poverty line with relation to calories to be consumed. Accordingly! those people who do not have a daily calorie intake of 2100 kcal or more in urban areas and 2400 kcal or more in rural areas are said to be living below the poverty line. These calorie requirements are converted into per capita consumption expenditure i.e. "minimum money requirement of a person, which, considering a person's consumption pattern, will ensure sufficient food intake for satisfying average calorie needed." (Gupta SP in India's Econ. Dev. Strategies, Ed. Mongia, 1986). In 1987-88, the rural poverty line, in terms of percapita monthly expenditure was Rs. 131.80. Families found, during surveys, to be having consumption expenditure less than the required are considered to be living below the poverty line. Of course, the ideal thing would have been to measure poverty against a set of parameters which go to make a "life of good quality", at least a life with minimum standard of living. In other words, not only food and nutrition security for all but also good healthy drinking water, choice of a balanced diet, a reasonable house, proper clothes to wear and access to education, health and employment. This is, of course, beyond the scope of this presentation. However, the average incidence of rural poverty conceals wide interstate differences which suggests that greater attention needs to be paid to the regions which have greater concentration of poor. (Eighth Five Year Plan, Min of R.D.). The figure below shows the proportion of people living below poverty line, both in various states and in India as a whole:


It will he observed from the above that surveys prior to 1987-88 and results published by the Planning Commission estimated that 29.4 percent of the people in India were living below the poverty line. The earlier estimates were of 1983-84 when the Planning Commission had estimated that proportion of below poverty line (BPL) population was 37.4 percent. Thus in percentage terms, the BPL population dropped by 8 percentage points during the decade in question. It will also he observed that there are wide variations amongst the states within the country. While Punjab has only 7.2 percent people below poverty line, Orissa has as many as 44.7 percent. It is also worth noting that while a food deficit state like Kerala has only 17 percent BPL population, for a substantially food surplus state like Uttar Pradesh, the figure is as high as 35.1 percent. This only proves the point, that even in situation when adequate food is available, large number of people are not able to gain access to it-cannot encash their entitlement in the words of Amartya Sen.

It has to be, however, appreciated that the figures of population below poverty line (BPL), as given above, have become outdated now. These are as published in the year 1987-88 and based on surveys undertaken prior to that. It is understood that the new figures will he available during the latter part of this year itself. When those are published, it is quite likely the proportion of BPL population will sharply decline. This assumption is essentially based on the fact that per capita availability of cereals, which alone give around 70 per cent of calories, has in recent years been even more than recommended levels and better off people cannot be eating more than recommended levels to lift up the averages. The other factors which will also contribute are: (i) increased purchasing power with poor due to various poverty alleviation programmes (ii) increased production/availability of non-food items providing energy; (iii) improved drinking water and health care facilities; (iv) revamping of PDS to focus on poor areas (v) data showing a decline in proportion of per capita consumer expenditure an cereals etc. Such reduction in BPL population will also he able to explain the contradiction, brought out starkly in case of Orissa, between higher than required availability of cereals and of the population consuming less than the required levels of energy as brought out in the NNMB surveys, even though there was enhanced energy intake among the children up to 6 years age. These factors will he discussed in greater details in the appropriate chapters and we can, for the time being, proceed to examine various programmes that constitute the frontal attack on poverty.

Poverty Alleviation Programmes

Banishing the poverty from the face of the country is one of the most cherished goals of India's development planning. It is felt by almost all the policy framers and the experts that the predominant thrust of development in rural areas should be on generation of higher growth by rapid acceleration in the growth of agriculture and allied activities and a rapid increase in production jobs. Some economists (Mongia, 1986) have calculated that a minimum rate of growth of four percent in the rural economy will be necessary in order to reduce the absolute number of rural poor. It will also be necessary to pointedly direct the poverty alleviation programme towards economically weaker sections of the rural people. In the urban sector, where rate of growth is, in all probability, expected to be rapid and higher than the rate of growth of population, deliberate redistributive policies, including what are nowadays popularly referred to those providing a safety net to the poor, need to be put in place. This will ensure that such growth is not consumed entirely by the richer section of the population, in short- the social engineering within the economic policy framework.

We can now take a brief look at the progress so far made in reducing the proportion of people living below the poverty line, before we move on to social distributive policies like poverty alleviation programmes and public distribution system. It is observed that the proportion of people below poverty line has been declining since early seventies, when the rural poverty started getting a sharply focused attention in our developmental strategies. However, there is some dispute about the number of people living below the poverty line as can be observed from the tables given below :






















Source: Planning Commission





















Source: Report of the Expert Group set up by Plancom July, 1993.

It will be evident from the above, that there is some difference in the above two sets of data although the percentage of poor has declined according to both. Percentage of people below poverty line, both in rural and urban areas, has declined by 21.6 percentage points as per the estimate of the planning Commission between 1972-73 and 1987-88, whereas it declined by 15.6 percent points according to the estimate of the Expert group. Considering the handicaps that a big developing country like India has to face, a decline of even 15.6 percentage points is not too bad and if it is 21.6 percentage points, it is quite commendable. This points to an improved household food security scenario. The worrying thing, however, is that even if the estimate of 29.9% are taken as correct, in absolute terms around 240 million people roughly 48 million households were still living below the poverty line in India in 1987-88. As per 43rd round of NS Survey conducted in 1988-89, 196 million persons i.e. 36 million families were living below the poverty line in rural areas. A vast majority of Indian poor, thus, live in rural areas. This not only puts in correct perspective as to what India has achieved so far through the combined strategy of growth and direct attack on poverty but also the daunting task that lies ahead, Of course, it also brings in sharp focus the need to contain the burgeoning growth in population.

Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation

Although alleviation of rural poverty has been one of the primary objectives of planned development in India, it was only during the Sixth Five Year Plan that the problem of rural poverty was brought under a sharper focus. The Seventh and Eight Plan have continued with this strategy i.e. emphasis on growth with social justice. "It was realised that a sustainable strategy of poverty alleviation has to be based on increasing the productive employment opportunities in the process of growth itself. However, to the extent growth by-passes some sections of the population, it is necessary to formulate specific poverty alleviation programmes for generation of certain minimum level of income for the rural poor." (Draft VIII F.Y. Plan, Ministry of R.D.). In more concrete terms, the aim is enabling every one to have adequate employment and afford at least the minimum desirable requirement of food, clothing and shelter.

The underlying philosophy in poverty alleviation programmes in India has been "decentralisation of planning and also renewed emphasis on wage employment and asset oriented self-employment programmes. Although resources constraints have been the major hurdle in providing wage employment to all those who are in need of it, it may not be before long that a national programmes guaranteeing wage employment to all may be introduced in the country." (Draft VIII F.Y. Plan, Ministry of R.D.) It is also recognised that rural development programmes, including those concerned with a direct attack on poverty, cannot succeed unless these are people oriented and people themselves are involved at various levels in planning, approving and implementing such programmes. To operationalise such a concept, an entirely new wing of development administration, the Panchayati Raj, has been developed as an adjunct of developmental planning in India over last forty years or so, It traces its origin from the olden days when every village in India used to be governed by a Panchayat, an assembly of five (Parch) elders, who would self-govern (raj) the village in almost all matters, even dispensing justice. In the post-Independence period, the structured (rather than the informal of oldern days) Panchayati Raj institutions functioned with various degrees of effectiveness in different States of the country. There was a wide differentiation in the statutory backing, the number of tiers and power of such Panchayats. It was however experienced that except in a few States, these rural local self government bodies could not raise adequate resources and planning and implementation of projects by these bodies also left much to be desired. The biggest drawback noticed was that elections for these bodies were not held regularly and over long periods of time, resulting in their losing the status of being "people's elected bodies".

In order to rectify the shortcomings noticed in the functioning of these Panchayat Raj bodies, the Constitution of India has recently been amended and all the State Government were required to enact their own legislations on the pattern set by the Constitution Amendment Act. These bodies will now be unique and the Prime Minister recently observed, "The Pradhan (President) of these bodies will be even more powerful than the Prime Minister, as he combines in himself both the legislative as well as executive head of the State. When Nyaya (justice) panchayats are created, even judicial powers will be enjoyed by some of the office of these bodies". (Address of the Prime Minister to Minister's Conf., New Delhi, April, 94). It is hoped that the statutory strengthening of the panchayat raj bodies with compulsory provision for regular elections coupled with increase in the outlays for rural development, these programmes will further contribute to the removal of poverty and thereby help in better food and nutrition security for the rural poor.

At this stage, I would like to only mention the various programmes being implemented under the rural development sector in India. These include Jawahar Rojgar Yojna (rural employment programme named after the First P.M. of India, Jawaharlal Nehru); Employment Assurance Scheme; Rural Housing; Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Integrated Rural development; Marketing Improvement; Land Reforms; Desert Development/Drought Prone Area Programme etc. For the urban poor, a new programme, Prime Minister's Rojgar Yojna has been launched since last year. In this study, I would like to later discuss in a little more details, the Jawhar Rojgar Yojna inclusive of Employment Assurance Scheme and Integrated Rural Development Programme as they are the two most important programmes to eradicate the rural poverty, ultimately leading to improved household food security. Separately, an important complementary programme, the Public Distribution System, will also be discussed in details as it, along with poverty alleviation programmes, forms the main plank for launching the country towards the achievement of the goal of food security for all.

It will be appropriate at this juncture to also give the outlays for some of the important rural development programmes for the last and current financial year (April to March) to give an idea of the sweep and extent of these programmes as also the substantial step up for the current year:

Table 16 OUTLAY & EXPENDITURE FOR 1993-94 AND PROPOSED OUTLAY FOR 1994-95 (In Rs. Millions)






Tentative Outlay

1. Rural Employment



(a) Jawahar Rojgar Yojna


(b) Employment Ass.Scheme



2. Integrated Rural Dev. Programme



3. Accelerate Rural Water Supply



4. Promotion of Voluntary Action in Rural Dev.



5. Drought Prone Programme



6. Desert Dev. Prog.



7. Rural Housing






It will be observed from the above that the outlay for the rural development programmes has been substantially increased for 1994-95, an increase of huge 86 per cent. In fact, the outlay for 1993-94 was also a major step up over the previous year, Rs. 50,100 million as compared to Rs. 31,000 million in 1992-93, an increase of 61%. The reason for these hikes in rural development programmes is not only to intensify the direct attack on poverty but also to shelter the poor from the economic reforms and structural adjustment programmes started by the Government two years back. The Economic Survey 1993-94 says "To ease the costs of adjustments, promote human resource development and to generate more employment opportunities, allocation for plan programmes in social sectors, rural development and employment schemes were stepped up in 1993-94 budget. The budget for elementary and adult education was increased by 53 percent, health by 60%, family welfare plus integrated Child Development Services programmes by 28 percent and Integrated Rural development Programme plus Jawhar Rozgar Yojna by 63 percent". As is clear from the table above, the process of strengthening these sectoral outlays, containing programmes in the nature of "safety net" for the disadvantages sections of the society, were continued in the current year and budget for these sectors including rural development, agricultural development, food subsidy etc. were further increased for 1994-95. As mentioned earlier, the biggest income transfer programme for the poor ie. Jawhar Rozgar Yojna and Integrated Rural Dev. Programme and the public distribution system with accompanying food subsidy will be discussed in greater details in the succeeding chapters. Incidentally the outlay for food subsidy also stands increased to Rs. 36500 million in 1994-95 as against Rs. 28,000 million in 1993-94 and Rs. 28500 million in 1992-93.

Jawahar Rozgar Yojna

Primary objective of this employment generation scheme (as also its predecessors National Rural Employment Programme and Rural Landless Employment Gurantee Programme) in operation since 1985-86 is "generation of additional employment on productive works which would either be of sustained benefit of the poor or contribute to the creation of rural infrastructure". (Min of Rural Dev. 1993-94).Within the outlays provided under this programme, six percent is earmarked for Indira Awas Yojna i.e. Rural housing scheme named after Indira Gandhi, former PM, houses being meant for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and freed bonded labour. Another 20 per cent resources are earmarked for Million Wells programme under which open wells, suitable for irrigation on small holdings, are provided to the same disadvantaged groups as covered in Indira Awas Yojna. The physical and financial performance of these programmes is given below:

Table 17


In Rs. Millions

Employment generation
In Million mandays








































Source: Min of RD. Government of India, Eighth Five Year Plan.

These programmes have resulted in substantial reduction in the incidence of unemployment in rural areas, especially during the lean season. It will be noticed from the above table that since their inception in 1985-86, a total of 4371 million mandays employment was created by these programmes up to 1990-91 itself. If it is assumed that a family was able to secure on an average 100 mandays employment, 44 million families should have benefited and in other words 44 million families could have secured at least 100 days food security directly through this programme. If it is considered that there were 250 million families living below poverty line in 1990-91, as high as 18 percent of them were covered under this single programme. For rest of the year, the families would have been able to get employment in agricultural operations.. The programme could also indirectly help in increasing the wage rates in rural areas because it sets a bench mark, below which wages should not fall. In an study undertaken in Alwar district of the State of Rajasthan (Surendra Kumar unpub., 1992), it was noticed that people were not keen to enrol for JRY since most of the time they were able to secure better wages elsewhere than the minimum wages offered in JRY. Of course, such a picture cannot be considered representative of the entire rural India but this illustrates the potentiality of the indirect benefit from this programme in enhancing and stabilising the wage rates. Further, wherever foodgrains were provided as part of the wages, there was double benefit to poor, since foodgrains were supplied at subsidised rates.

Employment Assurance Scheme

One of the Indian states, Maharashtra has been implementing an Employment Guarantee Scheme. It guarantees employment in government projects if workers come forward with a plea that they are not able to get any employment in and around villages. On similar pattern, the Employment Assurance Scheme has been started at the national level with effect from 2nd Oct. 1993. It seeks to combine employment guarantee with seasonal unemployment under an area approach. The scheme is being implemented in 1752 identified backward blocks (of the total of more than 4500 blocks in the country) in 257 districts (out of more than 460 districts). These blocks are situated in the drought prone, decertified, tribal and hilly areas in which the revamped PDS is in operation. Thus, there is a synthesis between creation of purchasing power and availability of foodgrains within the same disadvantaged areas.

The primary objective of this scheme is to "provide gainful employment during the lean agricultural season in manual work to all the able-bodied adults in rural areas who are in need and who are desirous of work, but cannot find it, either on farm or on allied operations or on the normal plan/non plan works during such period. The secondary objective is creation of economic infrastructure and community assets for sustained employment and development". (Draft Annual Plan, Ministry of R.D., 94-95). A beneficiary can get up to 100 days of the work under this scheme and a maximum of two adults in a family can be provided with work. An amount of Rs. 2000 millions has been proposed in the budget for the current financial year, 1994-94.

Integrated Rural Development Programme

The Programme extends assistance to families living below the poverty line and enables them to acquire productive assets or appropriate skills for self employment which in turn should enable them to generate enough income to get out of the poverty zone on a permanent basis. The families to be covered are identified, their bench mark survey done and bankable project prepared for each family. Government provides part of the investment as subsidy, the remaining coming as a bank loan. The scheme is supposed to be intergreated with the developmental plans of the area without which it may not be possible of establish forward and backward linkages and assets provided would either give very poor financial returns or may even became a liability to the beneficiary. The scheme also requires presence of a strong banking infrastructure in the area as banks are not only required to provide credit over and above the subsidy payable but scrutinise the individual projects and access their economic viability. There has to be a continuous and close overseeing of the programme by the concerned development agency to help a poor family to turn into a successful entrepreneur. A total of 42 million families have been assisted under this scheme since its inception in 1980-81. It is proposed to assist about 4 million families during the current year 1994-95 with an implicit subsidy of Rs. 3750 million. (Ministry of RD, Annual Plan 1994-94).

IRDP is no doubt a difficult programme to implement. The biggest impediment is that a poor family, with no background of entreprenuership and management skills is be suddenly transformed into an Entrepreneur-Manager family. The other problems relate to availability of inputs in required quantities locally; developing suitable & durable marketing outlets and tendency amongst some beneficiaries to dispose off the asset, especially in the face of difficulties in managing it economically and profitably. Considering these difficulties, measures like tripartite discussions of likely project to be undertaken between the beneficiary, the representatives of the local development administration and bankers; training of beneficiaries to upgrade their technical and managerial skills; establishment of marketing organisations/links; dovetailing with area development programmes etc. are required to be taken up. At the same time, it was decided to have concurrent evaluation of the programme so that the drawbacks were noticed quickly and corrective action taken. In any case, as many as 42 million families have been covered under this programme between 1980-81 and 1993-94 and this must have gone a long long way in reducing rural poverty.

There are a number of other programmes in the rural development sector that contribute towards rural poor attaining higher incomes and better quality of life. This is- not the proper place to discuss the details of such programmes It may, however, be worthwhile to just mention those to complete this chapter. Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM) is to supplement IRDP by equipping the rural youth to acquire technical skills or upgrade their traditional skills. Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) revoles around women as the target group. It provides one time financial assistance to groups of women to take economically viable activities so that it could be used as a ravoling funds. Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) is specifically designed for arid and semi arid areas with poor resource endowment. It provides financial assistance for activities like landshaping, soil conservation, afforestation, pasture development, water resource development etc. so that dryland agriculture could be made more productive. Land Reforms is also an important aspect of rural development, aiming at more judicious redistribution of rural land, redistribution of surplus land by giving it to the landless, tenancy reforms are implemented to provide security to the actual tiller, scattered holdings are consolidated and like. Panchayats, the local self Government bodies in rural areas are given the supreme place in the entire philosophy of rural development. Last, but quite important, is the encouragement being given to voluntary action so they could play an effective role in generation of awareness, inculcation of appropriate skills and bringing about a convergence of developmental programmes They could also foster the spirit of self reliance and innovativeness amongst the rural people and work as a bridge between technologies developed in the urban laboratories/institutions and their adoption in rural areas.

It can now be appreciated as to how the various programmes in rural development sector, especially rural employment (JRY) and the asset creation (IRDP) programmes, have contributed towards alleviation of poverty in rural India. The performance of these programmes may not be uniform over the whole country but generally speaking they have succeeded in providing additional purchasing power in the hands of rural poor and thus helped in improving the food and nutrition security of the rural households. These programmes have been substantially stepped up recently, and in conjunction with the reformed public distribution system, can go a long way in ensuring a very high level of food and nutrition security for poor households in India.

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