Poverty and Development Issue since 1991




Environment and Sustainability issue since 1991:

The traditional perception of poverty would focus on the lack of food, water, shelter, clothing, sanitation, etc. There is also a monetary based consideration of what is poverty. Poverty is therefore a state of an individual, family or society where people are unable to provide for their basic necessities of life. It focuses on the earnings of an individual that would help him to live a relatively comfortable life. These are material aspects of life. A State is expected to ensure that the people are provided for the necessary material goods for their survival.

There is an alternate view of poverty. This focuses on both the material and non- material aspects of life. Here the focus is on human wellbeing through sustainable societies in social, economic and political terms. Here the emphasis is on values, community ties and availability of common resources. Such a view would focus on participatory nature of decision making, ensuring that the marginalised community is able to participate in public policy and promote economic and political decentralisation.

The approach to the concept of development is usually looked at through a set of social and political values. The purpose of development is to ensure welfare of the people. For example, development can be associated with economic growth. One perspective about economic growth can focus on the predominant role of the State in promoting economic growth. Another view can focus on the role of the free market economy in promoting development. The former would be classified as ‘socialist’ while the latter as ‘capitalist’. Both these are traditional approaches to development.

The alternate, non-traditional view about development focuses on both material and non-material aspects of poverty. It stresses on political participation from the grassroot level, ensuring that all sections of the community are represented in the decision-making process. It seeks to balance human activity with nature, thus promoting the concept of sustainable development.

The approaches to development until the 1990s were mainly traditional in nature. Their main concern was tackling material aspects of poverty. Thus, the role of the State was targeted to increasing economic prosperity through industrialisation or focus on agriculture so as to generate employment opportunities and increase the per capita income of the people. It is only in the 1990s that the alternative view of development has become acceptable. Consequently, the focus to day is development based on equity, participation, empowerment, sustainability, etc.

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations considers poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities and a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society, not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or a clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one's food or a job to earn one's Development Goals (SDGs) for action by all countries - development and developing - in a global partnership.

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