However, India has not had famines since the Green Revolution in the early 1970s. While poverty in India has reduced significantly, official figures estimate that 27.5% of Indians still lived below the national poverty line of $1 (PPP, around 10 rupees in nominal terms) a day in 2004-05.
A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) found that 65% of Indians, or 750 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day with most working in “informal labour sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty.”
Since the early 1950s, successive governments have implemented various schemes, under planning, to alleviate poverty, that have met with partial success. All these programmes have relied upon the strategies of the Food for work programme and National Rural Employment Programme of the 1980s, which attempted to use the unemployed to generate productive assets and build rural infrastructure.
In August 2005, the Indian parliament passed the Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, the largest programme of this type in terms of cost and coverage, which promises 100 days of minimum wage employment to every rural household in 200 of India’s 600 districts.
The question of whether economic reforms have reduced poverty or not has fuelled debates without generating any clear cut answers and has also put political pressure on further economic reforms, especially those involving the downsizing of labour and cutting agricultural subsidies.