Poverty and Wellbeing at the ‘Grassroots’—How Much is Visible to Researchers?
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This paper discusses the grassroots level understanding of poverty and wellbeing. There is rich debate and ever expanding literature on the meaning of wellbeing and poverty and their relationship in developing countries. In recent times wellbeing and poverty have been scrutinised within the discourse on multidimensionality of poverty. Most research outputs though are grounded in quantitative data. Investigations that focus on the perceptions and understandings of poor people about their situations remain sparse in the literature. The current study is an attempt to address this gap. The paper explores the common grounds and the points of departure between the researchers’ views of poverty and wellbeing and the perception at the grassroots. The paper presents findings of primary research conducted by the author in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh and Madhubani district of Bihar in India. Semi-structured survey instruments were deployed to interview a selection of poor, marginal and non-poor households. In addition to identifying the commonalities in grassroots and researchers’ understandings of poverty, the paper draws attention to factors that may be outside the radar of the researchers. It is envisaged that mapping a more holistic understanding of poverty and wellbeing will have important long-term policy implications for poverty reduction.