Social Scientist. v 13, no. 148 (Sept 1985) p. 16.


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UTSA PATNAIK

Profit-Inflation^ Poverty and Employment in the Context of Capitalist Development

A NUMBER of poverty alleviation and employment generation scnemes were taken up for implementation by the Government in the Sixth Plan period. These include the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP); the National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) which absorbed the food-for-work programme; schemes such as the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programmes (RLEGP) launched in late 1983, and the Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM). The official estimate of persons in poverty in 1979-80 was 48 per cent on average,. with 50 per cent being below the poverty-line in rural areas arid 38 per cent in urban areas : the declared objective was" to bring this down to 30 per cent by 1984-85. In the mid-term Appraisal of the Sixth Plan it was claimed, on the b^asis of a number of somewhat dubious assumptions, that under the impact of IRDP and NREP the poverty percentage had come down to 41.5 within the first two years of the Plan. At present after two years of-bumper harvests optimism is high and it is being widely (though so far unofficially) broadcast that the percentage of people in poverty has declined to below 30 per cent.

Such a drastic decline in poverty in a mere five years would certainly constitute a most remarkable, indeed incredible achievement of the poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes, to which such successful performance is being attributed, given the fact that the total outlay on all these programmes taken together during the Sixth Plan period did not exceed Rs. 3500 crores (Rs. 1000 crores under NREP, Rs. 1500 crores under IRDP, excluding the repayable loan component; Rs. 600 crores under RLEGP and the balance distributed over other schemes). With an average population in poverty of at least 250 million in rural areas, the per capita ouday works out to a mere Rs. 28 per annum—an inconsiderable, even an absurd sum on any criterion.

It must be remembered that of all the schemes, NREP and RLEGP generate incomes in the hands of the beneficiaries only during the period of their operation and do not permanendy improve the labourer's income-earning capacity: only the IRDP is designed to add to productive assets. An

* Centre for Economic Studies A Planning Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi



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