Natural resources perform multiple functions as a driver, maintainer,
potential exit route, and also an effective escape mechanism in the
context of poverty dynamics, especially in a predominantly agrarian
economy such as India. The discourse on poverty reduction however, has
often overlooked some of the major concerns of natural resource
management, despite recognizing the criticality of agricultural growth
for reducing rural poverty in the country. This paper presents an
overview of the interface between natural resources and poverty in India
and pleads for better equity and sustainability in resource management
by ensuring sustained investment in support institutions at various
While a number of schemes have been undertaken for management of natural
resources viz; land, water, and forests by adopting participatory
approaches, much of this remains isolated from the mainstream strategies
for enhancing agricultural productivity across the three sets of
regions-dry land; high potential rain fed; and high potential
irrigated-where the emphasis is mainly on crop technology and yield
maximization. The challenge now, is to shift towards water efficient and
knowledge/employment intensive systems of agricultural production.
Achieving this would require a more nuanced approach, which incorporates
differential agro-ecological features on the one hand, and
employment-livelihood needs on the other.
This paper is also published as CPRC working paper no. 152.
CPRC and Indian Institute of Public Administration, 35 pp.
Natural resources and chronic poverty in India: A Review of Issues and Evidence. CPRC-IIPA Working Paper No. 43