Multi-dimensional Poverty in Rural Kashmir: Extent, Determinants and Policy Options
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Conventionally, poverty is measured in monetary terms, either using income or consumption expenditure. But since the seminal work of Amartya Sen, poverty has been acknowledged as a multidimensional phenomenon and has gained the attention of researchers, economists and policy makers. Multidimensional approach captures the broader picture of poverty as it involves innumerable dimensions which is impossible in the uni-dimensional approach of poverty. The broad objective of the study is to examine the nature and extent of multidimensional poverty and also find out the determinants of poverty in the rural Kashmir of Jammu and Kashmir state. The study is based on primary data collected during first quarter of 2016 from eight villages namely, Adlash Magam, Niamatpora, Zainpora, Zerakan, Faqir Gujri, Sangam, Anayatpora and Pushwari of rural Kashmir. This study is inimitable in including eight dimensions with twenty-seven indicators of human well-being. The dimensions used are Economic, Health, Education, Wealth, Work and Employment, Ownership of Productive Assets, Empowerment and Social Participation. For examining the nature and extent of multidimensional poverty in rural Kashmir, Alkire-Foster method is used. In order to find out the determinants of poverty, logistic regression model is used. The results reveal that, both uni-dimensional (income poverty) poverty and multidimensional poverty is prevailing in the rural Kashmir. As v the Alkire-Foster method shows the incidence and intensity of poverty, the incidence of poverty in the rural Kashmir is 0.856 which means about 85 per cent of the households in the rural Kashmir are multidimensionally poor. However, the intensity of poverty is 0.461 which means on an average a household is deprived in almost 46 per cent of the indicators in rural Kashmir. The results of logistic regression model reveal that the low level of education of household head is an important cause of multi-dimensional poverty in the rural Kashmir. It implies that lower the level of education of household head, higher is the probability of the household being categorized as poor. Therefore, policy focus should be on encouraging free, compulsory and quality education at the primary level, and skill-embedded vocational education at the secondary level in the rural region of Kashmir. The focus is also needed to ensure functional literacy of all members of the households so as to make them capable to support their livelihood. Specifically, for adult household members, the vocational/job-oriented training should be given through non-formal education centres to enhance their employability in the formal sector. Furthermore, the self-help groups need to be strengthened by providing them with the skill-based training through non-formal education centres to improve the earning capacity of women. All these will bring work efficiency and productivity among the rural masses which in turn will contribute to enhanced earnings and help to exit from poverty. It is again found that the underemployment of the household head in the informal sector is another important cause of multi-dimensional poverty in the rural Kashmir. So, the policy circle should focus on increasing employment opportunities in the region may be by undertaking more number of public works programmes, providing skill-based training for the creation more productive labour force capable of working in technology savvy jobs, and by creating enabling environment that encourages micro, small and medium scale enterprises. Furthermore, the emphasis should be given to encouraging the women employment may be through self-help groups in the rural Kashmir. Similarly, emphasis may be given to deepening of handicraft business in rural Kashmir. This will certainly contribute to the removal of poverty by eliminating the problems of underemployment of rural people in the informal sector. vi It is found that the type of house and the number of rooms in it, also determines the extent of multi-dimensional poverty in the rural Kashmir. It has already been established in the various context that pucca housing with more number of rooms reduces the chance of a household falling into poverty. Thus, the policy makers need to focus on improving the dwelling conditions of rural households in Kashmir may be by providing free/subsidised housing to BPL families, creating income earning opportunities for rural masses, and assisting people to build better housing with the help of appropriate housing schemes. It is found that the households not having any kind of debt burden are less likely to come into the grip of multi-dimensional poverty in the rural Kashmir. So, it is imperative on the part of the policy circle to focus on putting an adequate amount of purchasing power in the hands of rural people through appropriately designed work & employment opportunities such that households will not fall into debt trap. It is also found that the households having some sorts of exposure to poverty alleviation programmes are less likely to be in multi-dimensional poverty. Therefore, there is a need for holistic and sustainable anti-poverty programmes that aware and empowers rural people to come out of the grips of poverty. The proper implementation of the anti-poverty programmes together with quality education, training and awareness at the grass-root level, will certainly ensure the socio-economic empowerment of rural households.