India set to meet UN 2015 poverty goal

In the fight against poverty, India seems to be winning - in some parts of the country at least.

New Delhi: In the fight against poverty, India seems to be winning - in some parts of the country at least.

Vimla Sharma lives in Suwana Village in Rajasthan. Her life has been dramatically improved by a government scheme called the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

Launched in 2005, it guarantees every rural family 100 days of work a year at a wage of 100 rupees a day.

She can now send her daughter to school - something which means a lot to her - but she thinks the scheme should be expanded further.

"There are 100 days of work in a year. Once these days are over, what will the women do? They work as labourers wherever they find work. We want the NREGA scheme to continue so that we are able to meet our household expenses," says Vimla Sharma.

In another part of Rajasthan - Kodukota village - it`s a different story.

Farm worker - Bhairon Lal Meena - owns some farmland but it isn`t enough to sustain his family.

He lives with his wife and elderly parents in a mud hut.

The government scheme did give him work but delayed payments meant the family still struggled to survive.

"What do we do with NREGA? We don`t have anything to eat in the house. I had worked for four months as a farm worker with NREGA but have not got a single penny till now," says Bhairon Lal Meena.

In a progress review of the United Nations development goals for 2015, India is expected to reduce its poverty rate from 51 percent to 24 percent by the target date.

India`s economy grew 8.8 percent in the June quarter, its biggest increase in over two years.

However, Caitlin Wiesen, country director of the UN`s development Programme, says the growth must be managed well to make sure everyone benefits.

"Increasing inequality is a major concern and one has to look at the quality of growth. And the growth within India has been outstanding, it`s one of the second fastest growing economies in the world. However, growth needs to be job rich and also needs to focus on agricultural productivity and production," says Caitlin Wiesen, Country Director, United Nations Development Program.

The growing number of wealthy Indians live in cities like New Delhi. Here, there are many who buy a pair of designer shoes costing 37 thousand rupees - more than a rural farmer earns in a year.

As India`s government successfully tackles the massive problem of poverty - their next big challenge will be to close the widening gap between rich and poor.

Bureau Report

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