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Updated: March 21, 2012 15:08 IST

Now, Planning Commission lowers the poverty line

K. Balchand
Comment (47)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

It's Rs. 28.35 in urban areas and Rs. 22.42 in rural parts

The Planning Commission on Monday released the latest poverty estimates for the country showing a decline in the incidence of poverty by 7.3 per cent over the past five years and stating that anyone with a daily consumption expenditure of Rs. 28.35 and Rs. 22.42 in urban and rural areas respectively is above the poverty line.

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The new poverty estimates for 2011-12 will only add to the furore triggered by the Commission's affidavit in the Supreme Court in October in which the BPL cap was pegged at an expenditure of Rs. 32 and Rs. 26 by an individual in the urban and rural areas respectively at the going rate of inflation in 2010-11.

Eventually, Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia jointly set aside the cap suggested by the Tendulkar Committee and set up a new committee to work out a new methodology for identifying the BPL households.

Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu that the present system had to be continued till a new one was worked out and that would be done only after the Socio-economic and Caste Census was completed.

Similarly, Planning Commission members Abhijit Sen and Mihir Shah separately underlined the need to adopt the same methodology to understand the impact of government spending on the people and across the States over a period of time.

Mr. Sen clarified that the figure of expenditure in the Supreme Court affidavit had been arrived at by adjusting the figures for 2004-05 with the prevailing inflation rate in 2011-12 and not based on the survey conducted across the country.

He said the survey for 2011-12 is likely to be completed by July and the report would be released in December.

Dr. Shah told The Hindu that government programmes had been delinked from the poverty line estimated on the basis of the Tendulkar methodology which was only being used to understand the impact of government programmes over a period of time.

Accepting that the poverty line was linked to the PDS system, Mr. Sen said the Food Security Bill had defined poverty in such a way that it would have a bearing on the beneficiary.

He said Parliament, the government and the Supreme Court would together decide the people who should be brought under the food security entitlement net.

The impact of the new list will be felt on the Rural Development Ministry schemes, particularly those availing various kinds of pension under the National Social Assistance Programme.

As per the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2009-10, 29.9 per cent of the population alone were under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05.

Rural poverty

Rural poverty has declined by eight percentage points, from 41.8 per cent to 33.8 per cent, and urban poverty by 4.8 per cent, from 25.7 per cent to 20.9 per cent.

At the national level, anyone earning Rs. 672.8 monthly that is earning Rs. 22.42 per day in the rural area and Rs. 859.6 monthly or Rs. 28.35 per day in the urban area is above the poverty line. Population as on March 1, 2010 has been used for estimating the number of persons below the poverty line.

The total number of people below the poverty line in the country is 35.46 crore as against 40.72 crore in 2004-05. In rural areas, the number has come down from 32.58 crore five years ago to 27.82 crore and the urban BPL number stands at 7.64 crore as against 8.14 crore five years ago.

One of the most astonishing revelations is that poverty has actually gone up in the north-eastern States of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Even big States such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh registered only a marginal decline in poverty ratio, particularly in the rural areas, whereas States such as Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttarakhand saw about 10 per cent decline in poverty over the past years.

States with high incidence of poverty are Bihar at (53.5 per cent), Chhattisgarh (48.7 per cent), Manipur (47.1 per cent), Jharkhand (39.1), Assam (37.9 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (37.7 per cent).

However, it is in poverty-ridden Odisha that monthly per head expenditure of just Rs. 567.1 and Rs. 736 in rural and urban areas respectively puts one above the poverty line, while in Nagaland, where the incidence of poverty has gone up, the per capita consumption expenditure of Rs. 1016.8 and Rs. 1147.6 in rural and urban areas puts one above the poverty level.

Among social groups in the rural areas, Scheduled Tribes (47.4 per cent) suffer the highest level of poverty, followed by Scheduled Castes (42.3 per cent), Other Backward Castes (31.9 per cent) as against. 33.8 per cent for all classes.

In rural Bihar and Chhattisgarh, nearly two-third of the SCs and the STs are poor where as in States like Manipur, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh it is more than 50 per cent.

In urban areas, 34.1 per cent of SCs, 30.4 of STs and 24.3 per cent OBCs fall under this category against 20.9 per cent for all classes.

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God!!!!!! please help my country. Today they have did the poverty line so LOW. The day is not far when they will say the person who earns Rs 1 per day is rich... this is a joke but nobody want to laugh because this matter is very serious. now, its really difficult to survive in India. we the citizens of India should be said SURVIVORS. GOD PLEASE BLESS INDIA

from:  DIVYA
Posted on: Jun 14, 2012 at 14:09 IST

Govt attitude for poverty is clear now ,reading the comments here
implies humanity still kindles within our hearts for poors, ( Govt
forget poors constitute huge ingredient of democracy do they want to
wipe poverty or wipe out poors?) we see the sheer injustice being
done on poors by lowering poverty line. The policy makers dont even
know what hunger means, how they will know what poverty is?. its clear
now wrong people makes policy desisions and impose on us.
Very few poor victims may be aware of this debate going in
parliament, he is getting hopless every day, he cant read write speak
english , he has no place left for justice, who will listen to him?
We all lives in cities still struggling for better life , we can read
write and have better ability to sense social problems, ITS REALLY
VOICE FOR THEMSELF (I am thinking how it can be done ..??? )Do you
have any solution?

from:  datta
Posted on: Mar 24, 2012 at 20:36 IST

Ahluwalia is back with his own mark of joke. It's the time to revise the
defective methodologies. The methodology proposed by Dr.Amartyasen to
measure poverty line will be reasonable and effective. But do the govt
has guts to adopt that a million dollars question.

from:  Srinivas
Posted on: Mar 22, 2012 at 01:29 IST

I am surprised there isn't more coverage or outrage about this issue. Thanks to "The Hindu" for continuing to cover this. May we request keeping abreast and post updates on your main page to get the attention this very direly needs? Its surprising how we let people who have no connection with the masses make these important decisions!

from:  Rad
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 19:02 IST

Are we pretending to fight the already lost battle of poverty? It's really tough to understand what Montek Singh is talking about. From last one year or so, planning commission headed by Montek Singh is playing number game to eradicate poverty at-least on the paper, perhaps to reduce burden of subsidizes on the government. If somebody ask anything, argument given is that poverty line will not decide the fate of food security bill (which itself has many discrepancies and its usefulness is already in question). Nobody wants to tell that what will happen to existing subsidizes which decided by BPL. The basis given for these numbers is Tendulkar committee's report. There is also one more report (I forgot name; may be Arjun committee ) which says approximately 80 % of population needs help from the government. Why not talk about that? These so called "planners" are making mockery of poor.

from:  Parveen
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 17:14 IST

The poverty limit margin is an extrapolated figure (based on inflation) on previous margin limits. Why should that be a problem? Even if it is not a "true" representation (who can decide the objective limits of poverty: usually its based on 2000 Calorie requirement), it can be taken as a relative indicator since the same conditions were applied earlier. People should understand the difference between being poor (poorness cannot be eradicated except in the cinemas and communist textbooks protraying eutopia)and poverty (cannot sustain his life due to lack of economic ability for sufficient caloric intake). Someone here said that anyone getting less than 5K/month is poor (while this topic is on poverty). What if he owns land and cultivates his food or receives incentives other than cash? There are infinite such variables, and will not lead to objectivity in analysis. Try it out for yourself!

from:  Padmakumar Rao
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 16:58 IST

If a person can survive at the figures of planning commission, then what was the logic for implementing the 6th pay commission report, and putting Public utilities like railways in ICU, as is eveident from the speech of Railway Minister(Dinesh Trivedi)and the explanations for hike in rail fares.

from:  Kake
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 07:57 IST

By lowering the poverty line government is making it easier for the poor to come above it with little external effort. Some people believe that this poverty line must have been pulled down with the weight of 40% of population hanging on it. But people should not think this way; the line has been created with great effort of our planning commission without compromising on the quality. I will request Planning Commission to try drawing this line somewhere in the Indian Ocean so that every Indian found itself above this magical line.

from:  Neelesh
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 07:54 IST

This is indeed ridiculous. Indian politicians & bureaucrats are very smart. If they cannot change the reality on the ground, they can change the yardstick by which to measure the poverty & try to change the perception thru media. I've not seen a single evidence to conclude that poverty has gone down. It is downright outrageous to claim that there is a sharp decline in poverty. In fact I would go other way round. If anything, I only see increase in poverty rates..

from:  Mukesh
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 01:07 IST

Is this based on eating in a restaurant or buy the ingredients and cook? May be buy and eat raw without cooking. Are these based on minimum daily requirements for an adult and what type of food one has to buy to meet these requirements within Rs.28.35. Sorry within Rs.28.65. They should list the shops where they can buy them at the stated prices. If all these dtails are given, may be one could try, but then any one who could read all those details won't be under poverty line.

from:  KV Rao
Posted on: Mar 21, 2012 at 00:41 IST

A small correction - the new criteria for poverty in urban areas is Rs.
28.65, not Rs. 28.35.

from:  Aditi
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 20:58 IST

It says- rural poverty has declined faster than urban poverty during this period of 5 to 6 years. How do they come up with these conclusions? Where is the evidence? I haven't seen any change in the lives of the rural poor for past 6 years. Roads, houses, drainage system, drinking water, quality of the food supplied with rations, schools, child labour, unemployment, hard jobs which pay less than minimum wage, caste discrimination, prostitution, degradation of women, dowry, bribery, life expectancy - nothing has been changed. Aren't these supposed to be the deciding factors to conclude whether the poverty has been declined or not. I wouldn't buy a bit of this.

from:  rpdinavahi
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 20:11 IST

This may well be an attempt to cap the food subsidy bill to please the corporates. I don't understand how Indians can be so callous as to feel nothing when their brethren die of malnutrition, or even downright starvation. Well, there's more than one "I" in IndIa.

from:  Samir Mody
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 19:55 IST

It seems that these gentlemen in planning commission are mere stooges of IMF,and they are averse to the upliftment of the living standards of the poor.They are only bent on discontinuing the subsidies on the behest of IMF.We need people who know the ground realities than people like Montek Singhs who sail on clouds.Even a beggar knows better that one cannot survive a day with Rs.28.

from:  K.Sugavanam
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 19:12 IST

This is perhaps the easiest way to reduce poverty in India and joke of the year.

from:  Santosh
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 17:43 IST

Simple rule for improving standard of living, either raise the standard of living of the people or lower the standard itself, both these have same effects on development figures.

from:  Kanshk Kumar Singh
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 17:06 IST

Jugglery of figures towards self praise. The reality is known to
(1) Fallacies of PDS
(2) Steady rise in inflation
(3) Flaws in the socio-economic development programs
And to number a many, all of them have led to such a vulnerability of
poors in our country. Yet, one cannot figure out, how the planning
commission have come out with these numbers. Strange!

from:  Shobhit Namdeo
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 16:34 IST

Dear Editor
I want to know if there is a standard protocol "The Hindu" follows while
prioritising and publishing news on print. How is Srilankan tamil issue
on first page where as this particular issue (lowering poverty line) was
published somewhere in the middle pages.

from:  siva swaroop
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 16:10 IST

Logic here is very similar to if you can not help people progress, bring down those on the top and claim 'equality'

from:  Muralidharan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 16:00 IST

When I was in college days I was really facinated by the post of planning commission head. I thought those are the best talent in management, planning sector in India. Now I am really ashamed by saying that our country planning commission people does not have any common sence. I am really appreciate If some one force them to reduce their salary 30 rupees per day. Then only they will realise being of feel above poverty line.

from:  Praveen Solanki
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 15:16 IST

I totally disagree with BPL limit set by union government. Its an insult
to the people who have voted them. going by inflation one cannot survive
even with hundred rupees per day. I challenge the people who have set
the above limits to survive with daily consumption expenditure of Rs.
28.35 and Rs. 22.42 in urban and rural areas respectively foe seven
days. it shows how ignorant these people are about the plights of poor
people.Its high time we vote them(Congress) out in the next general

from:  younus
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 15:15 IST

I simply ask a question to the planning commission of India: why they want to draw a poverty line at the first place. If just to please their bosses inside(actually, an outsider) and outside India, then it is OK. Otherwise, nobody is taking them seriously. We know who this Montek Singh is? He will run away, as soon as the present government falls.

from:  Anil Karn
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 15:03 IST

why don't we also come up with some more rubbish numbers and declare
ourselves also as a "Developed" country .. at-least we seem to be smart
enough to come up with the idea of reducing the poverty line, which by
itself stands out as the invention of the century!

from:  arun mony
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 13:26 IST

if we are practical what a person along with his family can eat with 22 rs / day and then how we can say that person is rich i.e not below poverty line. in India they will be dependents on the person wheather we consider that it is just like to show some improvement which is not at all happend

Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 13:19 IST

wow.....gr88 strategy....being not capable of eradicating poverty
through solid measures these so called policy makers are bringing down
the poverty line so as to affirm that poverty is going down, which of
course is nothing more than a fallacy none's gonna believe.

from:  soumya ranjan pattnaik
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 12:56 IST

I need someone to sit down and explain to me how these calculations are
done. I really want to understand where it deviates from common sense.

from:  prbhattacharya
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 12:38 IST

There appears to be a lot of confusion in the data used for comparing
number of the poor people in 2004-05 and 2010-11. It seems new numbers
are computed based on individual expenditure of Rs. 28.35 and Rs.
22.42 in urban and rural areas respectively. As per the October 2011
affidavit of GOI in supreme court expenditure for BPL poor were
defined as those with individual expenditure of Rs. 32 and Rs. 26 in
the urban and rural areas respectively arrived at by adjusting the
figures for 2004-05 with the prevailing inflation rate in 2011-12. Is
it not fudging the figures to show that the poverty has decreased. If
so, I am surprised why esteemed news papers like The Hindu do not
expose it unambigulusly.

from:  shailu
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 12:38 IST

The easiest way to reduce poverty is to lower the poverty line and our
economists, planners and leaders seem to be gaining competency in this
only! When was the last time Mr. Montek Ahluwalia 'saw' a poor person?
When was the last time Mr. Kaushik Basu sat & chatted with a farmer?
Finally, when was last time our dear P.M. visited a village? No amount
of financial planning and advanced economics is good enough, if people
in villages keep suffering, if some sections of society remain
marginalised and if the benefits of development are restricted to 25%
of urban-middle class only! I don't know who brought this idea of
Poverty Line, but an opportune time has come to dump this theoretical
remedy for poverty alleviation. It is just a sad joke on the 60% poor
of this country.

from:  sanjay
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 12:30 IST

With 12th Five Year plan round the corner, planning commission's report gives a clear picture on India's growth rate to the outside world. It shows an improving trend of life which must be applauded. Implementing lot of welfare and increasing the job oriented programmes will enhance the growth.

from:  Suresh Kannan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 11:54 IST

These statistics of the Government only add insult to injury. If a comparison is being made with 2004-05 then the criteria of 2004-05 only should be used after adjusting it for inflation. That has not been done. Who is the Govt. trying to fool. Yes! we may not be able to look after our poor, or even not want to look after them; but trying to deny their existence as well is quite shameful. Trying to overcome Indian poverty is a daunting task, which will be only rendered more difficult if we adopt such an ostrich like approach.

from:  M. Z. Ansari
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 11:44 IST

The ‎66th round (2009-10) consumption expenditure survey data tells us
that the average monthly per capita consumption expenditure for the
9th decile (i.e. 2nd from the top) for rural and urban areas are
Rs.1470 and Rs.3051 respectively. PPP would surely be less but, going
by the market exchange rate (UN definition), these are equivalant to
US1$ and US2$ per head per day. Therefore, at least 80% of rural
population spends less than US1$ a day and at least 80% of urban
population spends less than US2$ a day in India. :(

from:  Surajit Das
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 11:32 IST

The planning commission members along with their families should live for three years on the same per expenditure as they set for the poverty line calculation. Remember, this paltry sum of Rs 28 approx is considered "sufficient" for food, shelter, clothing, medicine, transport and education. If not, they should set the poverty line criteria at some reasonable level that looks sensible to us "aam aadmi". The criteria has been revised keeping in mind the wholesale price index (WPI) which is a cruel joke; do we citizens get goods and services at wholesale price? The consumer price inflation (CPI) has been running at over 15% year-on-year since the "economist" Prime Minister has taken over. I think Supreme Court has remained the last hope for the people of India; they should direct a fixing a realistic criteria.

from:  AbdulHamid
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 11:21 IST

i guess GOI personnel think that indian citizens are fool, after prolonged drama in past on this PL topic finally turned out to be nightmare once gain for poors, 28 Rs for urban and 22 Rs in rural people can not even buy poision to die and government is talking about living , this is very ill-sensed. Indian leaders are happy with their figures and their own made selfish benchmarks to befool indians , in this way India have to travel a far long way ahead to become developed country ,may be in life times !!!

from:  Deepesh
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 11:03 IST

Bringing down powerty definitions to show better performance in the last 5 years in poverty decline seems a cruel joke. Only our ruling system can be credited with such perverse thinking. Pitty no action is being taken to reverse the decline in moral values of our nation. How can a country with 354 million people living under poverty levels (even with the perverse definitions) ever be justifiable in a democracy? We have failed as a state and have made very little progress since independence. The ruling party who fomred the central government for well over 80% of the time should acept moral responsibility. There is total lack of leadership and statesmanship.

from:  Shekhar
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 10:26 IST

It is only a line! Let us lower it to zero and claim there is no poverty in India. After all, given the kinds and amount of free things governments dole out indiscriminately, with a little philanthropic help, I'm sure it is possible to survive with absolutely NO money in some places in India. Why even have this farce?

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 10:01 IST

Not sure with rising inflation and depleting rupees value, how can the poverty line be lowered. I am not sure if the planning commision is saying that indian economy and rupees puchasing power is so good that an individual can lead a healthy life in urban areas with rs 28 per day. Remeber you have to pay 1Rs to use public toilet!!

from:  Ranjith
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 09:55 IST

Absolutely ridiculous. Can Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia or Mr. Jairam
Ramesh live in a Indian city of their choice for a month with nothing
more than Rs. 30 a day(a little over the cap they came up with) ? They
should handle food, lodging and health expenses with that Rs. 30.If they
are able to do that, we will agree that the cap is correct. May be they
should do so by really earning Rs. 30 a day by some means and do it.

from:  Balachandran Sivakumar
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 09:54 IST

We have to live in our hearts but use our brain only to perform a
task. Living in brain defeats the very purpose of existence. If i come
across a hungry man i will attempt to give him a fish to the best of
my ability rather than teaching him to fish. Fishing skill cannot be
acquired in a jiffy and the hungry man may not survive for long time.
The media shows hungry people; news papers write about them - will we
take the Government's report as Gospel truth? I have seen elderly
women recognizing immediately that the other person is hungry even
though she may say otherwise. If we connect with people through heart
then only we can feel their emotions. This doesn't require any
strenuous practice but care for others. In people's welfare, the
governments have utterly failed.

from:  mvrangaraajan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 09:32 IST

With rising inflation, the poverty line comes down! Something is wrong...

from:  Manohar AM
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 09:30 IST

I was Proud to be born in India, but I pity that my children are going to live in India.

from:  Kannan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 07:31 IST

The planning comission people need to be made tolive on thise incomes and then see how they are so rich. Are these people thinking they are fooling anyone by fudging the numbers. This is one way to reduce subscidies without fixing the actual corrupt PDS system.

from:  svnagappa
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 07:18 IST

the government is simply playing with the life of the people. the very figures released by the planning commission to identify those living below poverty line in the urban and rural areas is simply a matter to be laughed at. the government should understand that it is not the computing method and the figures that is going to identify and get ride of poverty but it is the tangible and committed action that can do the job.

from:  a.g.rajmohan
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 06:33 IST

Govt is trying to generalize the good results of some states and
districts to entire India and It may cause great hue and cry in Public
which is already feeling cheated by different scams and may result in
further problem if strong supportive material is not provided by the
govt to show the truthfulness of its estimates.

from:  Raveesh Mrigendra
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 05:14 IST

Did same old mistakes...I here by declare that planning commission has
failed in exam of poverty estimation..They need a lot of improvement in their work.

from:  ANAND
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 04:33 IST

The members of planning commission shall be given that much money and
ask them to survive for Six months. It is joke on the poor people of the

from:  Raju
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 03:55 IST

So this is how India is eradicating poverty - by "amending" the poverty

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 03:52 IST

Just with Rs.1000 per month can anybody live in India? Can they provide their family for say 4 members with basic food, water, basic shelter, healthcare and normal education for their children? I think planning commission is joking by saying 10% decline in poverty. They know that nobody has the time to go and verify of what they are saying is true or not. Who are they trying to protect? again politicians and the ruling government? I'm sure that atleast 75% of the population in India are poor. Everybody having salary less than 5000 Rs. per month should be considered as poor. Every year our dear politican folks and government together is raising the fuel price, food inflation and they believe that a person can live with 850 Rs. per month. Is our planning commission trying to fool themselves or the people of India? I'm crying for help to save my country, Mother India!!!!!!!!!!!

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Mar 20, 2012 at 03:11 IST
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