You would have noticed that in all localities and neighbourhoods, both in rural and urban areas, there are some of us who are poor and some who are rich. Read the story of Anu and Sudha. Their lives are examples of the two extremes. There are also people who belong to the many stages in between.

Push-cart vendors, street cobblers, women who string flowers, rag pickers, vendors and beggars are some examples of poor and vulnerable groups in urban areas. The poor people possess few assets and reside in kutcha hutments with walls made of baked mud and roofs made of grass, thatch, bamboo and wood. The poorest of them do not even have such dwellings. In rural areas many of them are landless. Even if some of them possess land, it is only dry or waste land. Many do not get to have even two meals a day. Starvation and hunger are the key features of the poorest households. The poor lack basic literacy and skills and hence have very limited economic opportunities. Poor people also face unstable employment.

Malnutrition is alarmingly high among the poor. Ill health, disability or serious illness makes them physically weak. They borrow from moneylenders, who charge high rates of interest that lead them into chronic indebtedness. The poor are highly vulnerable. They are not able to negotiate their legal wages from employers and are exploited. Most poor households have no access to electricity. Their primary cooking fuel is firewood and cow dung cake. A large section of poor people do not even have access to safe drinking water. There is evidence of extreme gender inequality in the participation of gainful employment, education and in decision-making within the family. Poor women receive less care on their way to motherhood. Their children are less likely to survive or be born healthy.

Many poor families live in kutcha houses

Economists identify the poor on the basis of their occupation and ownership of assets. They state that the rural poor work mainly as landless agricultural labourers, cultivators with very small landholdings, or landless labourers, who are engaged in a variety of non-agricultural jobs and tenant cultivators with small land holdings. The urban poor are largely the overflow of the rural poor who had migrated to urban areas in search of alternative employment and livelihood, labourers who do a variety of casual jobs and the self-emloyed who sell a variety of things on roadsides and are engaged in various activities.

Majority of agricultural labourers are poor


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