The Planning Commission estimated a sharp reduction of poverty during the early 1980s, which it attributed largely to the poverty alleviation strategy followed during the Sixth Plan. Specifically, it was claimed that the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was responsible for a substantial reduction in rural poverty. This claim is critically evaluated here. Drawing upon the results of an applied general equilibrium model, selected anti-poverty interventions are compared from a macro perspective. Noting the incentive and information-related problems, some key issues in designing anti-poverty interventions are addressed.
Section I reviews changes in rural poverty at the all-India level. Section II explores the relationship between rural poverty, agricultural production and (consumer) prices. Distinguishing between transitory and persistent poverty, alternative measures of persistent poverty are presented in Section III. A case is then made for an interventionist anti-poverty strategy, followed by a brief review (Section IV) of salient features and selected performance indicators of poverty alleviation programmes launched/implemented during the Sixth Plan period. Section V investigates whether these programmes — especially the IRDP — played a significant role in alleviating poverty. Section VI discusses selected anti-poverty interventions and possible design-related reforms; concluding observations are offered in the final section.