It has rightly been stated in the seventh Plan that poverty alleviation programmes have to be viewed in the wider perspective of socio-economic transformation taking place in the country.
While the present strategy of direct attack on poverty through specific poverty alleviation programmes is justified on account of insufficient percolation of benefits to the poor from the overall economic growth, it should be appreciated that the strategy of direct attack on poverty cannot be sustained and would not yield the desired results, if the overall growth of the economy itself is slow and the benefits of such growth are inequitably distributed.
First, the resources and the capabilities needed for running such programmes cannot be generated in the system unless the economy itself is buoyant and there is a sustained increase in output.
Secondly, the demand for goods and services produced by the poorer household enterprises rises significantly in response to the overall increase in incomes in the country so that the viability of these household enterprises depends critically on the sustained increase in national income.
Thirdly, it is necessary to ensure that the pattern of overall economic growth itself is such as to generate adequate incomes for the poorer sections through its greater impact on employment generation and on the development of the less developed regions.
The programmes for poverty alleviation should thus be regarded as supplementing the basic plan for overall economic growth in terms of generating productive assets and skills as well as incomes for the poor.
The economic betterment of the poorer sections cannot be achieved without social transformation involving structural changes, educational development, and growth in awareness and changes in outlook, motivation and attitudes.
The social framework should be such as to provide opportunities for the poorer sections to display initiative and to stand on their legs.
Moreover, such a framework can ensure that the benefits of poverty alleviation programmes really reach the poor and are not frittered away through various leakages. Strict enforcement of land reforms and revamping of credit institutions can provide the necessary assets and resources for the poor as well as promote a more equitable social structure.
Greater participation of the poor through the elected institutions at the grass root level, as well as through their own organisation, is another means to achieve social change.
Improvement of literacy and education and imaginative use of various mass media for communicating useful information and knowledge as well as for changing the outlook of the people by instilling in them the egalitarian spirit, the urge for confidence in achieving self-betterment through co-operative endeavor, are essential for speeding up the process of socio-economic transformation.
The seventh Plan reiterates the goal of bringing down the percentage of population below the poverty line to less than 10 by 1995.
Therefore, the special programmes for income generation for the poor through assets endowment and wage employment for them will be continued at an accelerated pace during the seventh Plan period.