How Poor are the Poor in India?

Poor are the people who are below poverty line. And, poverty is proportional to the total economy and the growth rate of a country. We consider a person poor based on his/her income. Once upon a time, India is one of the poorest countries in the world. But today, it is mostly not. It is 'developing'. So how poor are the poor in India? What are the statistics?
(Disclaimer : The statistics are old and so, actual numbers may vary.)

Access to Basic Amenities

Only 21% of poor have access to latrines, 61% of poor have access to electricity and 6% have access to tap water.


25% of the poor population complete primary school. The number seems ok right? But only 15% of them complete middle and secondary school. That means, 45% of the poor in India are illiterate.


2% of the poor own a refrigerator and 5% of them own a two wheeler. 27% of the poor own stove and 29% of them own a TV. The satisfactory and shocking number here is the percentage of poor having a cellphone. 61% of the poor own a cellphone in India.

Source of Income

For 17% of India's poor, casual labor(non-farm) is the source of income. 12% of them are self employed(non-farm) and 4% are salaried employees. Majority of the poor are in farming. 34% are casual farm labors and 30% are self employed farm labor.

Where they spend?

56% spend on food and 13% on fuel and light. But only 6% spend on education. Education is given the least priority among the poor and may be that's the reason they remain poor. Just may be!


The Rangarajan Committee said in 2014 that the population below the poverty line in 2009-2010 was 454 million (38.2% of the population) and that in 2011-2012 was 363 million (29.5% of the population). By 2018, over 270million people of India moved above the poverty line and India is no longer the poorest country. Today, India has about 73 million people living in extreme poverty which makes up 5.3% of its total population.
With poverty affecting Indian lives so much, 38 of every 1,000 babies born in India die before making it to their one-year mark. The rapid population growth in India is one of the major reasons for poverty within the country.
India has been able to lift significant percentage of its population out of poverty but many still live in it.

The live world poverty statistics can be viewed here.