All causes for prevalence of poverty can be categorized in two groups – causes that are internal and external to the poor individual.
Internal Factors of Poverty
The internal causes of poverty come from individual’s shortcomings such as lack of motivation, capability, relevant skills, and aptitude or laziness. Hence, the poor person is responsible for his own condition. This argument has served as an “automatic” justification of poverty for a long time and for many people this is the only reason why someone is poor.
Very often unfortunate events and situations too drive individual persons and families towards poverty. For example, sudden death or disability of the earning member, female only households, sudden or chronic illness leading to loss of wealth, etc.
External factors of Poverty
Poverty researchers generally focused on who loses out at the game of economics, rather than addressing the fact that the game produces losers in the first place. An analysis into this underlying dynamic is critical to uncover the doable parameters that help sustain poverty.
“The basic set-up of society systematically denies opportunities to the vast majority of marginalized people in India.”
The external, situational, or structural factors of poverty are attributed to economic, political, and cultural factors operating on a higher, societal level. From a structural perspective, the argument is that most conditions of poverty can be traced back to factors inherent to either the economy or other institutional factors that serve to favor certain groups over others. Therefore, poverty is attributed to unfriendly social, political, cultural, and economic factors.
It is rooted in the basic set-up of society — in an uneven distribution of wealth; continuing unequal social relations, say due to caste or religion; and in the processes of exclusion and marginalization. Hence, they were put in poverty by external forces. In other words, there is a web of structures in the societal set up that makes it hard for people to prosper or come out of poverty.
Simply expecting the poor to ‘try harder’ by turning into entrepreneurs and finding their way out of poverty, does not address such structural factors. Rather, we need to look at how the basic set-up of society systematically denies opportunities to a large number of marginalized people in India. Structural failings and inequality go hand in hand. Inequality exists inIndiain many forms, and structural poverty cannot be understood or tackled separately from inequality.
InIndiastructural forces such as removal of subsidies, market reforms, increasing urbanization, rising income inequality, and increasing segregation of people on caste or religious lines, have produced pockets of concentration of affluence and poverty. The spatial concentration of affluence has enhanced the benefits and privileges of the rich by excluding the poor. In a system characterized by such factors, poor people have fewer choices and consequently become less effective in solving their problems.
Get Another Perspective on Poverty: Why So Much Poverty in India?
A Detailed Report: Poverty_in_India