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Updated: September 26, 2011 23:26 IST

Montek defends affidavit as “factually correct”

Ananth Krishnan
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Montek Singh Ahluwalia
Montek Singh Ahluwalia

“I feel Commission's motives are being perhaps wrongly understood”

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday defended the widely criticised affidavit filed by the Commission before the Supreme Court. It had stated that Rs. 25 a day in rural areas constituted adequate private expenditure on food, education and health. Mr. Ahluwalia said the affidavit was “factually correct.”

He attributed the strong public reaction to a misreading of the affidavit, which, he said, was not “any new policy decision” but simply a “factual explanation” given to the Supreme Court on how poverty lines were calculated based on the findings of the Suresh Tendulkar Committee.

The poverty line estimate, he stressed, would not decide benefits or entitlements to food subsidies, which would be separate policy decisions for the government to take.

“I feel the Planning Commission's motives are being perhaps wrongly understood,” Mr. Ahluwalia told Indian reporters in Beijing, where he is heading the Indian delegation at the first Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) with China. He said it was not the Commission's objective “to deny anybody benefits,” the provision of which was a separate issue for the government.

According to the poverty estimate in the affidavit, the percentage of people below the poverty line, based on 2009-10 data, was 32, seen by many as too small a section of the population entitled to certain benefits. Mr. Ahluwalia stressed that it was incorrect to suggest, based on the affidavit, that the Commission wanted to restrict the food subsidy to 32 per cent.

“In all the internal discussions, I have certainly been quite supportive that we can manage 41 per cent,” he clarified.

Mr. Ahluwalia said the Commission was also of the view that there was no unique logic as to what should be the poverty line, as poverty was a “multi-dimensional concept.”

“Many people…have sort of misread the affidavit, and I have heard people say things like, ‘How can you expect anybody to feed a family on Rs. 32 a day?',” he said. “The factual position is that this number is a per capita number …and if you are talking about a family of five, you have to multiply this by about five.”

“Per person a day”

“In the affidavit,” he added, “we have indicated, first of all, that this is the number that the Tendulkar Committee recommended when we asked them to look at the poverty line. The Tendulkar numbers are expressed as per person per day, and some people have confused that with what it would require to feed a family.”

“If people feel that this poverty line is too low,” Mr. Ahluwalia added, “I am not sure what we can do because this is the Tendulkar recommendation. Maybe we can appoint another committee, but that is about all.”

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it is highly objectionable and insulting the aam admi intelligence by the last statement of Montek singh the affidavit is factually correct and if needed another commitee will be appointed ,it reflects the ignorance and arrogance of the babus in delhi and the political class, as they only come for votes once in 5 yrs and then forget about the people till teh next election. We need to summon the members of the planning commission to the parliament and ask for explanation and also Montek Singh has to resign ,i think congress I is going for election >in 2014 not garibi hatauo rather garibo ko hatao.,

from:  DR G Shivalingam
Posted on: Oct 4, 2011 at 01:18 IST

The USSR GOS Plan is dead. It is time that the Government of India give a decent burial to the Planning Commission by a resolution of the Government of India

from:  Vijay Agnihotri
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 17:44 IST

Will Mr. Monteksinghji Alhuwalia be kind enough to explain, the concept of the word 'POVERTY' being used by him as well as his 'Tendulkar Committee'? According to the report,I would like to know the pattern of food, education, etc.etc. which the 'poor' an supposed to have with this Rs. 32/-. Also can the Govt. make sure that the reported poverty would be eradicated by ensuring them the income of Rs.32/- per person, not only in letter but in spirit also?

from:  Narayan M K
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 16:14 IST

Like this our so called planning commission is going to plan for our country?Rs.32 above for a person in a family?Is it a joke for them what poverty means?Just live a month with Rs.32 per day in a city and then think of defending your comments Mr.Monteck....

from:  subin
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 15:34 IST

So does that make a person earning Rs30 a day, above poverty line? Because as per the Planning Commission's "factual statement", an individual has enough to spend of food, health and education with Rs 25/day.
In that case cut down the salaries of government officials who are actually public service people, and make sure that there is better distribution of wealth in the community.
Definitely by cutting the salaries of government officials, MPs (whose salaries were tripled because they could not meet their expenses), we can "eradicate poverty completely" in our country by ensuring every individual gets "at least Rs25/day".

from:  Gurumurthy
Posted on: Oct 2, 2011 at 22:39 IST

We have as the head an officer like Ahluwalia who does not know what is poverty in India.It is the same problem every where that people at the top, Ministers,MPs,MLAs who have power to make rules and take decisions do not know how poor man somehow manages his living with tensions, how to manage for his bread next day; every where some sort of corrupt practices to get things done,manage next day earnings and so on. The Planning commission shd have taken a better estimation at much higher levels.Then how to implement? Unless there is a complete revision of govt cadres with younger officials free from corrupt practices of all types, it is impractical to expect any quick remedies in our present democratic set up.

from:  c.g.venkatesan
Posted on: Oct 2, 2011 at 22:23 IST

It is a pity that a person who does not know what is happening in real world is deputy chairman of planning commission. Going by this, we can imagine how good planning they are doing to improve(?) our country. Because of this useless burecrauts (puppets of politicians), Our country is not living up to it's expectation despite huge man power and natural resources. He probably dreams a lot and hopes to live in 80's. Let him come to real life and let him along with his family lead life with this meagre amount, say for 3 months. He will change the estimates. (if alive)

from:  Kannan
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 10:18 IST

It is a pity that even this explanation is not properly understood by us. Neither Tendulkar's committee nor the affidavit nor Mr. Montek is advising anybody to eat and live with Rs. 25 a day. They all attempt to say that families which can't mobilise atleast Rs. 25/a day/person should be regarded as living in poverty. Surely no individual person can eat and live with Rs.25 a day. At the same time an individual is not a family. A family of 5, as suggested by Mr. Montek, if could not afford Rs. 3750 a month for food alone then that family should be a BPL family. It is a question of identifying poor families and don't misunderstand this aspect and challenge everyone to live at Rs. 25 a day. It is for meeting a bare minimum food need and not for a sumptuous living. Assuring khana, pina and rehna to every BPL family is the aim of anti poverty program. For this evolving a criteria to identify BPL families is an important task. Instead of decrying we should offer constructive suggestions.

from:  Prof. N. Gunachandran
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 21:15 IST

Forget setting up another committee -- use your common sense! How pathetic the last statement of Mr.Montek Singh Ahluwalia is: "Maybe we can appoint another committee, but that is about all."

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 19:21 IST

Montek should come out of ivory towers and try spending a day with Rs 32
in Delhi. Then he might might understand the meaning of poverty.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 09:20 IST

Montek singh should live on Rs 25 a day...at least for a day...and see if it's possible.

from:  Andy
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 09:10 IST

Montek Singhji ! Your revised estimate of 32 % BPL may be factually correct and maybe the plan is for helping 41% of the BPL/APL .BUT I have seen a man eat of a garbage skip in Hyderabad - and he was not a mental case.If he could afford a decent meal-he would not be doing that ! THATS WHAT WE HAVE TO TACKLE!
In these days of FREEBIES - every poor household has got gas connection, Colour televisions, mixies, grinders and some even laptops !So UIDAI has a unique job of identifying the actual BPL and GOI has the duty to reach assistance to them.Thats all ! How you reflect them in numbers will be no body's business then -whether based on Tendulkar committe or whatever committee. This is the crux of the problem that India faces. Roti,kapda aur makkan has become dirt cheap.

from:  K.Muneerudeen
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 03:55 IST

Woh! The Planning Commission Deputy Chairman's views are are funny! Probably he was day dreaming all the while and just for the sake of giving a justification tried to pass on the buck on to the Suresh Tendulkar's recommendation. Is he a nut or does he think that all are fools? He should take the pain himself to find the factual data after properly assessing the market prices of different commodities. Just a mere recommendation from some Commmitee does not make the poor rich over night! Strangely enough, these so called intellectuals enjoy their life as they opt for and all at the cost of the common people. Time has come to give befitting answers to these mindless, heartless, corrupts to show them the door. They do not have any right to hold on to the chair unless they are able to judiciously deliver for what they are. Oh God! When will India be free of these ?

from:  Amitava
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 01:51 IST

In which case we should just pay RS.60 per day to all the politicians and all the government officials and rest of the money to everyone who is unable to make their ends meet...

from:  Dinesh
Posted on: Sep 27, 2011 at 00:29 IST

Dear Editor: This is an insult to many a hard working Indian family. It is highly likely that Montek, our IMF/World Bank Educated economics guru is suffering from poverty of Math, Economics, Human Values,Compassion and Intellect. More than him, we feel ashamed of the people who have appointed him and think of making him the Finance Minister.

from:  Dwarakanath Srinivasan
Posted on: Sep 26, 2011 at 23:56 IST
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