Poverty: Meaning, Definition, Cause, Characteristic, Type, Criticism of BPL


Poverty is a widely popular term used to showcase the state of being poor. It represents those things that determine the quality of life, including food clothing, shelter, and safe drinking water, but also such intangibles as the opportunity to learn and to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens. Here we shared topics such as poverty meaning, definition, and reasons.

► What is Poverty?

Poverty refers to the lack of basic needs that are necessary for one to lead a relatively comfortable life.

◉ Meaning of Poverty

Poverty simply means the state of being poor. Poverty means one person who is not able to fulfill his minimum basic requirements of life which are food, clothing, housing, education, and healthcare.

  • Food – Minimum food for surviving.
  • Clothing – Cloths for closing their body.
  • Housing – Shelter for living.
  • Education – Basic primary education that they can earn for themselves.
  • Health – Good health for earning money if the health is good then only they can earn money.

And the person is poor or he comes into poverty because he cannot fulfill all these necessities.

Definition of Poverty

Poverty has been defined in a number of ways by various authors and organizations.

According to The World Bank (1990),

Poverty is defined poverty as “the inability to attain a minimal standard of living.

According to Dandekar (1981),

“Want of adequate income, howsoever defined is poverty…, Thus lack of adequate income to buy the basic goods for subsistence living is an important element in the definition of poverty.”

◉ Who is Poor?

  • A person who doesn’t have these 5 necessities and the person who cannot enjoy their life.
  • They even cannot conduct themselves as Human beings and society demoralizes them.
  • Poverty is a harsh reality for a large section of the population of underdeveloped and developing countries.

► Characteristics of Poverty (Poor People)

1. They are having the problem of malnutrition which is high among the poor they don’t get proper food at the proper time much time they stay hungry full day.

2. They have poor health or ill health, and generally, they are physically weak. Many times newborn babies are less likely to survive.

3. There is a lack of literacy and skills due to which they have limited economic opportunities.

4. The poor families are bigger, which makes their economic condition weak or worse.

5. They have a lack of facilities for electricity and water. Their primary cooking fuel is firewood and cow dung cake. They don’t drink safe water.

► Types of Poverty

There are various types of poverty but it is majorly categorized into two categories. These measures or variants are as follows;

  1. Relative
  2. Absolute

◉ 1. Relative Poverty

It is nothing more than a comparison with other people, religions, nations, classes, and countries.

For Example:

  • Mr.X has the 100 rupees and Mr.Y has the 200 rupees. So, I will say that in comparison to Mr.Y, Mr.X is relatively poor.
  • India is relatively poor in comparison to the US.

◉ 2. Absolute Poverty

In this, the concept of the poverty line is used as a measure of absolute poverty.

Poverty Line:

It means a cut-off point that divides it into 2 parts i.e. APL (Above Poverty Line) and BPL (Below Poverty Line) as it defines people as poor and non-poor.

  • If a person is spending 816/-month (in rural areas).
  • If a person is spending 1000/-month (in urban areas).

Both for consumption. And if the expenses will be under this then they will be called poor and if the expenses will be more than this limit then they will be called non-poor.

► Other Types of Poverty

There are some ways to categorize poverty:

  • Chronic
  • Transient
  • Non-Poor

1. Chronic:

It includes people who are always poor and who are usually poor. Always poor who never comes above the poverty line. And Usually poor are the people who one or two times come above the poverty line.

2. Transient:

They may be classified as churning poor and occasionally poor. Churning poor who always moves in and out of poverty and Occasionally poor they may be 1 or 2 time comes under below poverty line.

3. Non-Poor:

Those who are always rich never get poor.

► Causes Of Poverty (Major Factors & Reasons)

  • Heavy pressure on the Population
  • High illiteracy rate
  • High level of Unemployment
  • Inflation
  • Inequalities of Income
  • The poor state of Agriculture

◉ 1. Heavy Pressure On Population

In this, there is a rapid growth of population. And in the family, the people who are earning is only one but more people are consuming.

◉ 2. High Illiteracy Rate

If the person is not educated then how he is going to get the work, if he doesn’t have skills how he will get the job. Education is a must, those who don’t know and are not studying are known as illiterate.

◉ 3. High Level Of Unemployment

This is the biggest cause of poverty because we have fewer jobs and the government also doesn’t have that many jobs if the government will bring the jobs the people don’t have that many skills. Education is there but no skills.

◉ 4. Inflation

As we can see in our economy day by day the rate of things is going very high. The rate of inflation is very high but the source of income is not very high, so with inflation, your income is not copping up.

◉ 5. Inequalities Of Income

It is the measure cause in India. The rich people are at a very low rate and the poor people are at a very high rate around 80% of people are poor and 20% of people are living a very good standard of living. Due to this much inequality, the poor people are only limited up to their basic requirements. In this, the rich utilize their money for good things.

◉ 6. The Poor State Of Agriculture

In India, most people are engaged in agriculture and there is very much importance in modernizing and mechanizing agriculture. For being rich agriculture should be developed. If agriculture will be developed then poverty will be less.

► Poverty in India: APL and BPL

  • Though India shows high economic growth, It is shameful that there is stillage scale poverty in India.
  • India has the world’s largest number of people living in a single country.
  • Poverty in India can be defined as a situation when a certain section of people are unable to fulfill their basic needs.
  • Hunger, malnutrition, and susceptibility of the poor to natural disasters make them take up anti-national and anti-social activities.
  • It is the duty of the government in particular and all citizens, in general, to try their best to alleviate poverty to establish harmony and peace in societies and in the world.

A number of people BPL:

In 1973-74, more than 320 million people were BPL. In 2011-12, this number has come down to about 270 million.

The proportion of people with BPL:

In terms of proportion, in 1973-74, about 55% of the total population was BPL. In 2011-12, it has fallen to 22%.

Must Read :Sustainable Develpment

► Criticism of Poverty Line

The method (Per Capita Expenditure or MPCE) of determining the poverty line is criticized  due to the following reasons:

1. The method groups all the poor together and does not differentiate between the very poor and the other poor.

2. This method does not consider social factors that generate and are responsible for poverty like illiteracy, ill health, lack of access to resources, discrimination, or lack of civil and political freedoms.

3. There are many factors, other than income and assets, which are associated with poverty, like accessibility to basic education, health care, and drinking water, which have been ignored.

4. This mechanism is helpful in identifying the poor as a group to be taken care of by the government. However, it is very difficult to identify the poor, who need help the most.

MPI: Poverty Index India

Here we have shared data from National Multidimensional Poverty Index by NITI Ayog India.

  • Bihar is the poorest state in India. It has the highest share of multidimensionally poor people in India.
  • Bihar also has the top rank in terms of most malnourished people in India followed by Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
  • The state of Kerala has the lowest population of poor people, followed by Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Goa, and Sikkim.
  • 80% of India’s poor live in rural areas.

Dimensions in MPI

The global MPI directly measures the deprivations people face at the same time in different aspects of their lives.

The MPI has three dimensions and ten indicators.

Three dimensions of Poverty are as follows;

  1. Health
  2. Education
  3. Living Standards

1. Health Dimensions:

  • Nutrition
  • Child Mortality

2. Education Dimensions:

  • Years of Schooling
  • School attendance

3. Living Standards Dimensions:

  • Cooking fuel,
  • Sanitation,
  • Drinking-Water,
  • Electricity,
  • Housing,
  • Assets

Global MPI keypoints

  • There are 1.3 billion MPI poor people today in the world.
  • 83% of the MPI poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Half of MPI poor people are children.
  • 90% of all children are MPI poor in South Sudan and Niger.
  • 35 countries at least half of all children are MPI poor.

Two third of all multidimensionally poor people live in middle-income countries. Countries with the largest number of people living a poor life.

Top Countries (with number of poor)

  • India (354 million)
  • Nigeria (97 million)
  • Ethiopia (86 million)
  • Pakistan (85 million)
  • Bangladesh (67 million)