World Food Issues: Historical Origins of Poverty


Historical Origins of Poverty Report: India

 India itself is a fairly new country. It gained its independence from the British Empire in 1947 after violent acts, riots, and many deaths. The country essentially had to start over from scratch by creating a new political and economic system. This young country is surrounded by well-established wealthy nations and has history of political strife all contributing to its high levels of poverty and hunger. India has a large, expanding, mostly rural population, an extremely low per-capita income, limited financial resources, and low levels of literacy, education, and life expectancy (Hardgrave, Kochanek, 2008). All of these factors, although slowly improving, contribute to its status as a developing nation.   India’s recent independence, poor economics, and gender inequality all contribute to it being a developing nation.

After World War II, when India had gained its independence and working on improving rates of poverty, economic stagnation, and create a new political order, other countries at the same time, like Japan and the United States, were much farther ahead in those fields but dealing with similar issues as they were faced with diminishing resources and rising expectations (Hardgrave, Kochanek, 2008).  India was already up against countries that had been working on their independence for far longer. With more time comes more opportunities and more lessons from failures. India didn’t have time to make the same mistakes and develop at the same pace, because surrounding countries were already much farther along. Although India is a developing nation, it is full of useful resources and alluring qualities. For example, India’s geo-strategic location and large size (Hardgrave, Kochanek, 2008) make it extremely sought after land, especially in the realm of developing nations. India isn’t following any set stages as it transitions from traditional to modern, and for that reason is becoming an interesting study for the process of development itself (Hardgrave, Kochanek, 2008). A large reason while poverty is so prevalent in India and why they suffer from such high rates of hunger is it’s economy and poor distribution of wealth.

India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but its wealth is barely distributed throughout the population (Effects of poverty in India, 2013). About 70% of India’s population lives in rural areas, and these areas have the highest rates of poverty(Effects of poverty in India, 2013). A country does not have wealth unless every citizen benefits from it. I believe that this inequality of wealth is unethical because of the utilitarianism theory. This theory states that it is only morally acceptable to seek the greatest good for the greatest amount of people and that is not what this government and this economy is doing. They spend only 1% of its GDP on health (Effects of poverty in India, 2013) when an overwhelming portion of its population is suffering from hunger and malnutrition. The countries failure to succeed and lower its poverty rates is due to the government’s lack of focus toward health care, education, and social security (Drese, Sen 1999). The people within a society are what make its economy and government successful and when the people don’t have proper, ethical treatment, the society will fail. It has also been proven that increasing income in poor countries will in turn improve nutrition. (Behrman, Deolalikar, 1987). A country as large and as lush as India should not be suffering from such high rates of poverty and hunger. The money and resources are there, they just need to be put towards the right things.

India’s economy not only needs to invest in health programs, but also small farms and agriculture. Another large reason why India is a developing country and why millions of its citizens are malnourished is that they can’t afford food. The countries economy is so focused on keeping up with the world’s top economic countries; it can’t be bothered to feed its own population (Chamberlain, 2010). Children are the most influential demographic in any society and they are forced to deal with this the most. They suffer from malnutrition and starvation and every aspect of their health and development is negatively impacted. Due to these high rates of malnutrition in children, the death rate is high and negatively impacts the every aspect of the country and it’s civilization.

Along with children malnutrition and underdevelopment comes poor education and inequality of genders. Women in India face severe discrimination throughout their entire lives. It begins as infant, because families prefer boys many girls are aborted every year and those who survive are treated horribly (Challenges of Being a Woman in India). Girls are given less food, less education, and their only focus is to become someone’s wife on the future (Challenges of Being a Woman in India). Dowries are very common and a huge financial burden, which in turn causes men and families to treat women like a financial burden. Women are married off when they are very young and always live in fear of violence and rape (Challenges of Being a Woman in India). Their cries for help are ignored and there is no justice in this society. In order for the country to move out poverty and become a developed, flourishing nation, all citizens of all genders must be treated equally. Every human being has the ethical rights to life, freedom, and to not be tortured. The women in Indian culture have been stripped of their rights and it is morally wrong. There will never be justice or peace in this country if women continue to be treated in such horrible way.

India has made it through very tough times in their history. They have suffered through riots, wars, crop failures, drought, and have started over after their independence. India is blessed with great cropland, large size, and great geographic location, but they are still considered a developing nation because of their inadequate distribution of wealth, harsh competition, and unequal gender treatment. India began developing in a world full of highly industrialized countries in a modernized world. As a whole they have fought against adversary and strife but they have a long way to go before their citizens are treated fairly and before their poverty and hunger rates drop.



Works Cited

Behrman, Jere R., and Anil B. Deolalikar. "Will Developing Country Nutrition Improve with Income? A Case Study for Rural South India." Journal of Political Economy J POLIT ECON 95.3 (1987): 492. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

"Challenges of Being a Woman in India -" CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2015. <>.

Chamberlain, Gethin. "Hunger in India: 'The Real Cause Is Lack of Political Will'" The Guardian (2010): n. pag. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <>.

Dreze, Jean, and Amartya Sen. "India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity." Oxford University Press OUP Catalogue (1999): n. pag. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. <>.

Kochanek, Stanley A., Jr., and Robert L. Hardgrave. India: Government and Politics in a Developing Nation. 7th ed. N.p.: Thomson Learning, 2008. Print.

"Poverty in India: Causes, Effects, Injustice & Exclusion." N.p., July 2011. Web. 13 Nov. 2015. <>.