Who is called an illiterate in India? Explain the Causes and Impact of Illiteracy.

An illiterate in India

  • As per Census 2011, a person aged seven and above who can both read and write with understanding in any language, is treated as literate.
  • A person, who can only read but cannot write, is not literate.

What Causes Illiteracy?

  • Parents with little schooling;
  • Lack of books at home and lack of stimulation as to the importance of reading;
  • Doing badly at or dropping out of school—many have not completed high school;
  • Difficult living conditions, including poverty;
  • Learning disabilities, such as dyslexia.


  • Illiteracy causes an increase in poverty levels. This is because people with little or no education end up getting low paying jobs.
  • Increased crime rates in the society. When people lack jobs, they result into stealing so as to fend for their families.
  • illiterate adults experience poorer health outcomes, less financial security, and lower life expectancies compared to the overall population.
  • Literacy, which conceptually encompasses far more than the ability to read, has become increasingly important as our society becomes ever more dependent on technology.

Government Initiatives

For Education and Literacy:

National Education Policy, 2020:

  • It aims at making “India a global knowledge superpower” by introducing several changes from the school to college level in the Indian education system.

Samagra Shiksha:

  • It is an integrated scheme for school education extending from pre-school to class XII to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.

Mid Day Meal Scheme:

  • It provides that every child within the age group of six to fourteen years studying in classes I to VIII who enrolls and attends the school, shall be provided hot cooked nutritional meals, free of charge every day except on school holidays.

Eklavya Model School and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship Scheme(RGNF):

  • These aim to encourage the students belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST) community to pursue higher education.
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