Volume 3 : The Promise of Empowerment and Democracy in India

Despite unprecedented growth in recent years, India has the largest number of poor people in the world. Moving Out of Poverty: The Promise of Empowerment and Democracy in India presents the experiences of poor people who have made it out of poverty. The study provides new insights on the processes and mechanisms that result in some poor people escaping poverty, while others remain stuck, and still others fall into poverty.

This book is a valuable resource for policy makers and practitioners studying India, and for those interested in poor peoples’ experiences and the political economy of poverty mobility.


  1. “This is a truly innovative and pathbreaking study. Most studies of poverty simply ignore the fact that the poor exercise agency and find their own ways to not just cope with, but sometimes transcend, the limitations under which they are placed. Second, they ignore the institutional dimensions through which poor people are empowered. This study gives a vivid sense of the ways in which poverty is negotiated. It is methodologically pluralist. It uses the tools of social science but allows the voices of poor people to come through; it draws our attention to the different mechanisms by which the agency of the poor is enhanced or thwarted, and it gives a complex account of the relationship between poverty and democracy. But most importantly it places the lives of the poor, not the abstractions of policy, at the center of its attention. The study is rich, full of insights, and will inspire tremendous discussion.”
    By Pratap Bhanu Mehta President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, India
  2. “In discussions of poverty, too often we hear the voices of economists and sociologists rather than of poor people. Deepa Narayan initiated a breakthrough on this front in her seminal Voices of the Poor series some years ago. She now follows up with Moving Out of Poverty, which again uses the voices of people to identify ways and conditions in which poor people in various Indian states have moved out of poverty. These provide a richer analyses and important insights.”
    By Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar - Consulting Editor, Economic Times, India; Columnist, Times of India
  3. “Reading Deepa Narayan’s work is an experience. All of a sudden you are in the midst of real people, the poor, the destitute, and those who have come out of poverty. You get involved with their debates, arguing with them, approving or disagreeing with the points made by them. How far can individual agency go, and do policies for collective action make a basic difference? The development discourse becomes totally engaging.”
    By Dr. Arjun Sengupta - Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, India, and Chairman, National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector, Government of India