Friday, April 30, 2010

Immeasurable Poverty

The debate on the extent of poverty in India has been a matter of global interest in the recent years since the position of emerging India is matter of great concern in the today’s era of global trade convergence. Though in the wake of economic reforms, poverty estimation itself emerged as a challenge which making this crucial matter more complex and distant from actuality.
In India, poverty estimation is primarily carrying by fixing a poverty line based on a differentiated calorie-norm; this approach has been developed as a custom over the years since its prioritization by a task force of the Planning Commission in 1979 that defined the poverty line as on per capita expenditure at which the average per capita-per day calorie intake was 2400 calories in rural areas and 2100 calories in urban areas.

Unfortunately, this method remains instrumental as authentic tool of poverty estimation which work on average per capita expenditure incurred by that population group in each state which consumed these quantities of calories-the 1973-74 survey of NSSO had taken it into account as the poverty lines. Based on the observed consumer behavior in 1973-74, the poverty lines at Rs49.09 per capita per month in the rural areas and Rs56.64 per capita per month in urban areas-these poverty lines were updated over the years by simply accounting for changes in Consumer Price Indices {CPI}, thus the all-India poverty lines updated for 2004-05 were Rs356.30 in rural areas and Rs538.60 in urban areas, per capita per month.
That faulty standard explicitly revealed the government’s inflexible mindset on policy intervention which always rely on the collective generalizations as major tool-regardless of what the Planning Commission comes up with, the empowered ministers remained stick to their prefixed line.

In such stodgy working method, two most important determinants of poverty;Purchasing Power Parity {PPP} and deprivation remains excluded at the cost of calorie, that itself creates lot of perplexity in true judgment of poverty. Absence of universalization of social security schemes and access of all BPL families to Public Distribution System {PDS} further engraving the situation; based on urban line of poverty measurement, total number of poors in India have risen from about 403 million in 1993-94 to about 407 million in 2004-05.
Wrong exclusion of around 77% of population living merely on R16/day {National Commission on Enterprise in Unorganized Sector, 2004-05} is making India’s performance pathetic on the Global Hunger Indexes-surveys of multilateral agencies like UN and IFPRI demonstrate the actuality through its Human Development Reports.

There are many impediments are haunting on the way of poverty alleviation but its measurement is most daunting one among them which keep teasing to targeted efforts-asymmetry could be understand through these figures, National Sample Survey’s {2004-05} poverty rate compilation showed the variance on poverty level among nodal agencies, as per Planning Commission {27.5%}, NCEUS {77%}, Suresh Tendulkar Committee {37.2%}, Rural Development Ministry’s {50%}-on which data ones should rely? After a long slumbering, government and Planning Commission have accepted the report of Suresh Tendulkar whose projection on poverty rate is much higher than earlier contemplation of government.
The gross failure of government’s standing shows that, act is more important than preaching on the issue of hunger and poverty estimation. There is need to extend the stake to these 77% population of country who are dwelling with low access of food, sanitation, finance, education etc.

By providing entitlement of basic necessities to these marginalized section, government can ensure the equitable growth which is very essential in the size of country we have-alienation of such size is in no manner a feasible option before the government or any other party involved. One must not forget that, if these two-third population would be empowered in true sense, our position would be much maximized on the developmental front where we desperately struggling presently-this is only foreseeable reason where presently we are lagging behind from China where the relative is very feeble in comparison of ours. Let us see, how the implementation is going to work this time…
Atul Kumar Thakur
April 26th2010, Sunday, New Delhi


  1. I m impressed wid both of ur article.specially the second one which is in context with the current situation .explation with exact statistical data takes this article to the next level.I would love to see u add an article on the current political situation of nepal from an indian point of view.

  2. Would do so more in future but I have written at least a dozen articles on Nepal from an impartial Indian point of view-please scrawl the blog posts of both year,you would find lot of stuffs.For a short query,you must visit last months,last post that entail all the details of iconic G.P.Koirala...hope you are well-Atul