India is seen as an emerging economic and political power. It has one of the world's fastest growing economies. However, poverty persists in India, especially in rural areas, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Caritas Australia is helping rural communities develop skills to advocate for their rights and participate in India’s growing economy.

Key facts:
  • Programs


  • Partners


  • Population


  • Extreme poverty

    Poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day:

  • Data sources 

Why do we work in India?

Not everyone in India has benefited from the country’s recent strong economic growth. The 2011 Indian Census shows that one in every four adults cannot read or write. With 404 million people estimated to be living on less than $1.25 a day, India’s poor make up one third of the world’s 1.2 billion poor. [1]

Inequality in India can be measured across geographical, ethnic/caste and gender lines. For example:

  • Poverty rates in India’s poorest states are 3 to 4 times higher than those in wealthier states. Income per capita in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand – the states in which Caritas Australia works – is less than half the national average.
  • Poverty rates are highest among the Dalit or ‘untouchables’ caste and tribal peoples formally recognized by the Indian government as ‘Scheduled Tribes’. [2]

Our work in India

India’s national and regional governments are committed to reducing poverty and wealth inequality in India. A range of government programs and services exist to help poorer communities close the gap with the rest of the country. However, communities are often unaware of these services and are unsure how to take advantage of them.

Caritas Australia supports programs that help communities tap into government programs and services aimed at reducing poverty.

Our local partners accompany village, tribal and regional leaders as they identify their communities’ needs, approach government agencies for assistance, and monitor the delivery of government services.

With an emphasis on working in partnership with government authorities, we focus on two key states: Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. These states were created in 2000 and, being relatively new, are still developing administrative processes and expertise

Examples of our work

  • Under the Gran Nirman program in the state of Chhattisgarh, our local implementing partner in the Bastar District has achieved great success in helping communities access a flagship social security program of the Indian government known as The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). Isolated and vulnerable communities are often unaware of the scheme. Our partner has been so successful in improving the reach of NREGA that that government offices in neighbouring areas, having witnessed the transformation in Bastar, have asked for help to implementing NREGA in their areas. The program is replicating across villages to bring real and far-reaching benefits to Tribal communities in India.
  • In partnership with Caritas India, we support programs across almost 200 villages, benefiting more than 82,000 people directly, most of whom identify as part of a ‘Scheduled Tribe’.
  • Under our Hamara Haq – Our Rights – Ensuring Tribal Rights program in Chhattisgarh, five ‘legal cells’ were established in 2013. The cells are made up of 12 to 14 people from the local community who receive para-legal training from qualified lawyers. The cells have proved very popular, with people coming from other areas to seek legal advice. At all five locations, the cells are expanding, providing advice to more than 500 villages on a variety of issues, including land conflicts and social security schemes.

Featured projects:

  • Supporting Tribal Rights

    Helping tribal communities work with government, build their capacity to advocate for their rights, and develop their voice.

  • Past program: FARM

    The FARM program encouraged farmers to switch to organic techniques and provided counselling to farmers in emotional distress.

  • Indian woman carries a pot

    Past program: Harit Asha

    Empowering marginalised families to improve their livelihoods, regenerate their environment and facilitate communal harmony.