Category Archives: Rural poverty

“Although there has been a decline, the level of poverty in the tribal population is still much higher than the national average and the gap between the two continues to be one of the major issues of concern in poverty discourse in India.” – Virginius Xaxa (Delhi School of Economics) in “The Status of Tribal Children in India: A historical perspective” (Opportunities, Working Paper No. 7, 2011), Institute for Human Development India & United Nations Children’s Fund, India

“Everyone wants to learn but the problem is atmosphere, the medium of teaching and the method of teaching, besides the facts of economics. It is the reason why tribal children find it difficult to integrate with the mainstream. Another factor is the cost of schooling. According to a 2015 report by the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development, the annual secondary school drop-out rate among Indigenous children in India is just above 40 percent compared with the national average of about 25 percent. The ministry lists ‘economic’ issues as the biggest reason for the dropouts – families just cannot afford to keep their children in school.” – Santal educationist Boro Baski in “The Indian school where Indigenous children are ‘never outsiders” by Rosemary Marandi (Al Jazeera Education, 10 February 2020)

“[I]n agriculture, members of the family can be drafted to work on the family’s farm, as also in other farm and non-farm work. This phenomenon is quite widespread in India today: of the nine crore [90 million] rural families who draw their main income from unskilled manual labour, four crore are small and marginal farmers. Through overwork and self-exploitation, peasant farmers are able to cling on to their land.” – Mihir Shah (Distinguished Professor, Shiv Nadar University) in “Plough to plate, hand held by the Indian state”(9 April 2021)

“Instead of creating a strategy based on reacting or responding to the symptoms of poverty, we want to create a new possibility in which poverty would have no space to exist.” – Kalyan Akkipeddi in “A Search for Resilience” (TEDxGurugram, 3 April 2017)

“The poor are forgotten, or they are sidelined, or they are not taken seriously enough.” – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) interviewed by Karan Thapar in “I Don’t Like Modi’s India, It Is Too Narrow and Limited” (The Wire, 12 August 2022)

“[Asia’s] so-called backward countries are peopled by millions of souls, sensitive souls, peacefully and nobody inclined, but so distressed and poor that they can best be described in the words of that great Indian philosopher, Dr. Radhakrishnan [the second President of India], who recently called them ‘souls without a body’.” – Maria Montessori quoted in Maria Montessori Writes to her Grandchildren: letters from India, 1939-1946 (Amsterdam: Montessori-Pierson Publishing Company, 2020), pp. 160-161

“Class differentiation has produced a semi-proletariat of small farmers and labourers, especially in regions of dryland cultivation, whose size can only be guessed at. Its economic position is sometimes as desperate as that of the rural under-class – witness the rising tide of farmers’ suicides over the last two decades – yet caste assertion undercuts class solidarity.” – Shashank Kela in “A party of the poor?” (, Caste Matters, May 2012)

“315,000 farmers took their own lives between 1995 and 2018, as the numbers (huge underestimates) of the National Crime Records Bureau show. Millions either became agricultural labourers or migrated out of their villages – since many allied occupations had also died – in search of jobs.” – P. Sainath (founder of PARI “People’s Archive of Rural India”) in “We Didn’t Bleed Him Enough”: When Normal is the Problem ( , 12 August 2020, first published in Frontline magazine)

“By urban standards, the Bhils were poor but not impoverished [until the 1980s]. Very few Bhils worked outside their villages, and most of them seemed to be content with how they were. They grew whatever they required, and their methods of cultivation were simple: they scattered the seeds on the slopes of the hills and let them grow naturally. The forests around were rich in fruits, vegetables and herbs, which were collected. […] They had no faith in the promises of the government of being suitably rehabilitated [in the wake of submersion of their villages caused by the “Sardar Sarovar” dams along the Narmada river].” – Yoginder Sikand in “Simple ways of life” (Deccan Herald, 23 December 2012)

“The vulnerability of tribal populations to exploitation by minor government officials, as well as moneylenders, landlords, and other agents of vested interests, can largely be traced to their illiteracy and general ignorance of the world outside the narrow confines of their traditional environment.” – Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf in Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival (University of California Press, 1982), pp. 320-1

“[I]ncome security of tribal peoples has been adversely affected by losses and access to productive resources (rights to forest or agricultural lands coupled with poor compensation). Debts are one of the main coping strategies, resulting in a hand-to-mouth existence for those affected.” – Tribal nutrition: UNICEF’s efforts to support the tribal population, especially children who suffer from malnourishment

“India has the highest number of slaves in the world, with estimates ranging from 14 million to 18 million people. In India, many people work as slave labour in the brick kiln industry – this includes women and children. Now, as in the past, not all slaves are forced into slavery. Historically, some experienced such severe poverty that they had no choice but to sell themselves to be bound to another person. And similar cases still happen around the world today.” – Catherine Armstrong (School Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Loughborough University, UK) in “India is home to the world’s largest slave population (, 21 October 2018)

“‘Deprivation’ refers to the inability of individuals in a society to achieve basic human functionings. Among these are the ability to live a long and healthy life free from avoidable disease and hunger, and the opportunity to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a socially acceptable standard of living.” –  Asian College of Journalism: “Covering Deprivation” (course-related information)

“As poverty grew agricultural indebtedness also grew rapidly, and the money-lending establishments held mortgages on the land and eventually acquired much of it. Thus the moneylender became the landlord also.” – Jawaharlal Nehru in The Discovery Of India (1946, OUP Centenary ed. 1989, p. 331)

“Nehru was fascinated by the spontaneity of tribal culture and their capacity of joy and heroism in spite of their appalling poverty, destitution, and ignorance.” – Chittaranjan Mishra in “Tribal Philosophy and Pandit Nehru”

“Is it eccentric to live in beautiful scenery in the hills among some of the most charming people in the country, even though they may be ignorant and poor?” – Verrier Elwin quoted by Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in The Oxford India Elwin

“Gandhi’s logic and rationale were irrefutable. Colonialism had impoverished and killed India’s poor. This was literally true, for countless millions had died in famines which had started as a drought but became mass-killers because of merciless taxation and exploitation.” – MJ Akbar in “The Rediscovery of Nehru: How Nehruvians revised their idol” (, 13 August 2021)

“Poor implementation of existing schemes in the tribal regions has meant that not only poverty continues at an exceptionally high levels in these regions, but the decline in poverty has been much slower here than in the entire country, as shown in this table (for the years 1993-94, 1999-2000 and 2004-05)” – “Rural Population Living Below Poverty Line (In Percent), Planning Commission, Twelfth Five Year Plan Document” by Ashok A. Sonkusare, Joint Adviser (S&T), NITI Aayog/Planning Commission

“In the matter of poverty, group inequality is still a matter of concern for Kerala as we see in the following chapter: Absolute deprivation continues to be largely concentrated among the marginalised communities, such as the tribals (adivasi) and fishing community […] and the hiatus between the Scheduled Castes and non-Scheduled Castes is a distressing symptom of a still uncured aspect of horizontal inequality in the State.” – Human Development Report 2005 Kerala (Government of Kerala (2006), pp. 57-61

Tip | Which are India’s endangered languages? (interactive map)

India’s endangered languages “Kolami, Koya, Gondi, Kuvi, Kui, Yerukala, Savara, Parji, Kupia. Do these names ring a bell? No, right? They are all native tribal tongues that have immensely contributed to enrich the language and culture of Telugu people. But … Continue reading

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Helping end human trafficking and modern slavery – #FREEDOMFORGIRLS

71% of modern slavery victims are women and girls. With an estimated 40.3 million people victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, that’s a lot of girls around the world who are being exploited for someone else’s benefit, or treated like … Continue reading

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“The problem is access and availability of nutritious food”: World Food Day (6 October) – United Nations

Although we have made progress towards building a better world, too many people have been left behind. People who are unable to benefit from human development, innovation or economic growth. In fact, millions of people around the world cannot afford … Continue reading

Posted in Adverse inclusion, Economy and development, Globalization, Health and nutrition, Modernity, Organizations, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rural poverty, Tips | Comments Off on “The problem is access and availability of nutritious food”: World Food Day (6 October) – United Nations

Video | “This land is mine. I will get it back: The struggle of women from the Rana Tharu community – Uttarakhand

Many Adivasis have lost their land in Uttarakhand. But Kamla Devi of Pindari village and Mangola Singh of Nandpur are resisting usury, fraud and gender prejudice to get back their farmland and secure their rights | Read the full story … Continue reading

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Tip | How many ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are there in India? And what distinguishes them from other communities? (‘tribal’ or otherwise) – Information provided by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

There are over 700 tribes (with overlapping communities in more than one State) which have been notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, spread over different States and Union Territories of the country. The largest number of main … Continue reading

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