Poverty Line in India, a game of fooling the poor

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the seriesPoverty around the world
Poverty Line in India 2013
Poverty Line in India 2013

The hottest topic of discussion among all Indians recently has been, the definition of the poverty level  in India. It has turned out to be the most debated topic in the country among the political parties. This debate is the result of the recent publication of the definition of poverty level by planning commission of India. The planning commission is chaired by the Prime Minister of the country and is led by Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia. According to Indian Planning Commission: those who spend earn more than Rs 33.3 per day in cities and Rs. 27.2 in rural India are above the poverty line. So in monthly income terms, a family of 5 living in cities earning Rs. 5000 per month and a family living in a rural area earning more than Rs. 4000 per month are above the poverty line. What it means is that those families are able to meet all their ends on a daily basis. Well, that is what the planning commission of the country and a commission.

The Commission had stated earlier this week that for a family of five, the all-India poverty line with regard to consumption expenditure would amount to Rs 4,080 per month in rural areas and Rs 5,000 per month in urban areas.

These ridiculous figures for the poverty line in India have been proposed by the Tendulkar committee. This statement actually reminds me of “Stone Age”, when people would get sufficient food in a few pennies and quality of food was also good. The question now is will even a street hawker allow you to even taste his material in above mentioned amount per day.

So do you feel that you can survive spending on Rs 33 per day including your food and all???

According to this definition, even beggars would fall in the in ABL (Above Poverty line) category. This is how the government is making fool of us. This simply looks like another political gimmick of the ruling UPA government to fool the poor of the country. They simply want to show by the way of some fictitious figures that the number of poor in the country has declined rapidly during the UPA regime between 2004 and 2013.This simply looks like a follow-up of the UPA government’s recent ad campaign depicting the growth in India as an inclusive growth. This is only part of their larger strategy to grab more and more votes by continuing their so called pro-poor schemes that cost the exchequer a fortune and use the tax payers’ hard earned money to fill the pockets of the corrupt machinery of the UPA government. Although this is an effort from the planning commission to fulfill the dreams of their masters in the center by showing a sharp decrease in the number of poor in the country, the reality is far from what is being shown.

 World bank’s estimates of poverty in India

Poverty Headcount Ratio (2013)

Poverty Trend

World Bank

Live with less than $1.25 a day 32.7% (400 million)
Live with less than $2.00 a day 68.7% (841 million)
Live with less than $2.50 a day 81.1% (992 million)
Live with less than $4.00 a day 93.7% (1,148 million)
Live with less than $5.00 a day 96.9% (1,179 million)

The World Bank has its own definition of poverty and gives a range of figures and the number of Indians living below those amounts per day. The minimum being USD 5 per day..  You should not be alarmed by seeing the figures of USD 1.25 to USD 5 per day in the World Bank’s definition of poverty, as they are way higher than the Planning commission’s figures of Rs. 28 and Rs. 34 per day for rural and urban India respectively. Infact these figures for the poverty line used to measure poverty line by the World Bank are way below those used for measuring poverty in the developed world.

Although it may sound too bizarre and exaggerated to say that the day is not far when the Indian government’s official definition of poverty line in the country will be Rs. 1 per meal, as some leader from the ruling UPA recently stated that one can live even on a single rupee diet.  This may sound absurd now to discuss about the poverty line as most of the people who will get to read this article fall in the middle class and may not be qualified for the benefit of various schemes of the government for those below the poverty line. The middle class is the most squeezed class of the country. How they are the most squeezed, is a matter of another post.

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