Income Inequality, Poverty and Food Security in West Bengal, India

Snehasish Karmakar, Debashis Sarkar


The paper intends to study the nature of income inequalities, food security and poverty among different sub-groups of population in West Bengal, India. It has been found that inequalities in terms of share of total income and population exist both in case of agricultural and non-agricultural income irrespective of sub-groups. The contribution of agricultural income in the income profile is less than that of non-agricultural income which exhibits the deplorable condition of agriculture and thereby the non-agricultural sector has an immense scope for reduction of income inequality even the fact remains that about 65 per cent of the rural population engages in agriculture. The study observed that so far as food security is concerned, though India achieved self-sufficiency in food grain production since 1970s, the achievement did not percolate down to masses. These deprivations are very acute with differentiated degrees of severity in almost all sub-groups except medium farms. Inequality in income is much higher than that of food insecurity in all sub-groups which is in conformity with Engel’s Law. While comparing the depth of food insecurity with poverty, it reveals that though the severity of poverty as well as food insecurity is highest in small farms, but these two do not keeping same connotations for the marginal and landless households. Hence it comes to the consequence that the severity of food insecurity not only depends on the severity of poverty but on some other factors too.

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