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Updated: July 30, 2013 00:14 IST

The dishonesty in counting the poor

Utsa Patnaik
Comment (48)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

The Planning Commission’s spurious method shows a decline in poverty because it has continuously lowered the measuring standard

The Planning Commission has once again embarrassed us with its claims of decline in poverty by 2011-12 to grossly unrealistic levels of 13.7 per cent of population in urban areas and 25.7 per cent in rural areas, using monthly poverty lines of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 816 respectively, or Rs. 33.3 and Rs. 27.2 per day. These princely amounts will pay for one urban male haircut while they are supposed to meet all daily food and non-food living costs. The poverty decline claimed is huge, a full 8 per cent points fall in rural areas over the two years since 2009-10, and a 7 per cent points fall in urban areas, never mind that these two years saw the aftermath of drought, poor employment growth and exceptionally rapid food price rise. The logically incorrect estimation method that the Commission continues to use makes it an absolute certainty that in another four years, when the 2014-15 survey results become available, it will claim that urban poverty is near zero and rural poverty only around 12 per cent. This will be the case regardless of any rise in actual deprivation and intensification of actual poverty.

Substantial rise

All official claims of low poverty level and poverty decline are quite spurious, solely the result of mistaken method. In reality, poverty is high and rising. By 2009-10, after meeting all essential non-food expenses (manufactured necessities, utilities, rent, transport, health, education), 75.5 per cent of rural persons could not consume enough food to give 2200 calories per day, while 73 per cent of all urban persons could not access 2100 calories per day. The comparable percentages for 2004-5 were 69.5 rural and 64.5 urban, so there has been a substantial poverty rise. Once the NSS releases its nutritional intake data for 2011-12 we can see the change up to that year, but given the high rate of inflation and sluggish job growth, the situation is likely to be as bad, if not worse. Our figures are obtained by applying the Planning Commission’s own original definition of poverty line. Given the rapidly rising cost of privatised health care, education and utilities (electricity, petrol, gas), combined with high food price inflation and exclusion of the majority of the actually poor from affordable PDS grain, it is hardly surprising that the bulk of the population is getting more impoverished, and its nutritional level is declining faster than before.

What is the basic problem with the Planning Commission’s method which produces its low and necessarily declining estimates, regardless of ground reality? The Commission in practice gave up its own definition of the poverty line which was applied only once — to get the 1973-74 estimate. After that, it has never looked over the next 40 years even once for deriving poverty lines at the actual current spending level, which will allow the population to maintain the same standard of living in terms of nutrition after meeting all non-food costs — even though these data have been available in every five-yearly NSS survey.

The Commission instead simply applied price indices to bring forward the base year monthly poverty lines of Rs 49 rural and Rs.56 urban in 1973-74. The Tendulkar committee did not change this aspect; it merely altered the specific index.

Price indexation does not capture the actual rise in the cost of living over long periods. Those doing the poverty estimates would be the first to protest if their own salaries were indexed only through dearness allowance. A fairly high level government employee getting Rs.1,000 a month in 1973-74 would get Rs.18,000 a month today if the salary was only indexed. The fact that indexing does not capture the actual rise in the cost of living is recognised by the government itself by appointing decadal Pay Commissions which push up the entire structure of salaries — an employee in the same position today gets not Rs.18,000 but a four times higher salary of over Rs.70,000. Yet those doing poverty estimates continue to maintain the fiction that the same standard of living can be accessed by the poor by merely indexing the original poverty line, and they never mention the severely lowered nutritional access at their poverty lines which, by now, are destitution lines.

Worsening deprivation

The fact is that official poverty lines give command over time to a lower and lower standard of living. With a steadily lowered standard, the poverty figures will always show apparent improvement even when actual deprivation is worsening. A school child knows that if last year’s percentage of students passing the annual examination is to be compared to this year’s percentage, the pass mark should be the same. The school principal cannot quietly lower the pass mark without informing the public, say from 50 out of hundred last year to 40 this year, and then claim that the school’s performance has improved because 80 per cent of students are recorded as ‘passed’ this year at the clandestinely lowered pass mark, compared to 75 per cent of students last year. If, at the same pass mark of 50, we find that 70 per cent of students have passed this year, we are justified in saying that the performance, far from improving, has worsened. If the school is allowed to continue with its wrong method, and lower the pass mark further next year, and again the next year, so ad infinitum, it is eventually bound to record 100 per cent pass and zero failure.

The case is exactly the same with the official poverty lines as with the pass mark: the poverty lines have been lowered continuously below the standard over a very long period of 40 years. ‘Poverty’ so measured is bound to disappear from India even though in reality it may be very high and worsening over time. The Commission’s monthly poverty line for urban Delhi state in 2009-10 is Rs.1040 — but a consumer spending this much could afford food that gave only 1400 calories a day after meeting all other fast rising expenses. The correct poverty line is Rs.5,000 for accessing 2100 calories, and a staggering 90 per cent of people have been pushed below this, compared to 57 per cent below the correct poverty line of Rs.1150 in 2004-05. Given the very high rate of food price inflation plus the rising cost of privatised medical care and utilities, it is not surprising that people are being forced to cut back on food, and the average calorie intake in urban Delhi has fallen to an all-time low of 1756. While a high-visibility minority of households with stable incomes is able to hire-purchase multiple cars per household and enjoy other durable goods, the vast working underclass which is invisible to the rich is struggling to survive. Fifty five per cent of the urban population cannot access even 1800 calories today, compared to less than a quarter in that position a mere five years earlier.

Why, it may be asked, do the highly trained economists in the Commission ignore reality and continue with their incorrect method? Surely they can see as we do, that their Rs.1040 poverty line gives access to a bare-survival 1400 calories. Part of the answer is that the ramifications of using the wrong method extend globally, for the World Bank economists have, for decades, based their poverty estimates on the local currency official poverty lines of developing countries, including India.

The World Bank claim of poverty decline in Asia is equally spurious. In reality, under the regime of poor employment growth and high food price inflation, poverty has been rising. To admit this would mean that the entire imposing-looking global poverty estimation structure, employing hundreds of economists busy churning out wrong figures, would come crashing down like a rotten termite-eaten house. The rest of the answer is that since the method automatically produces numbers showing spurious poverty decline, it is convenient for arguing that globalisation and neo-liberal policies are beneficial for people. Truth will always out, however.

(Utsa Patnaik is Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University)

More In: Lead | Opinion

By this planning commission in the land of Gandhi has made poor to be on hunger with out them being on strike but only hungry!!!

from:  Marudah
Posted on: Aug 1, 2013 at 07:53 IST

Every year we(hindu has written articles after articles) complain about the planning commission measuring standards. But nothing a zilch moved improving this. Victims(poor) cannot be made aware. Who can move this planning commission is high school children to college graduates. How many of these future leaders have understood this? We are all preparing them to enter work force, where their 100 salary will grow to 1000(thinking they still need 100 and rest is saving) but when they retire they need 10000 in place of 100. Many have not understood why this is happening, how, cause of this and it can be resolved (not by magic but pouring ideas). So every student must be encouraged and given oppotunity to learn about this and pour in solutions -one out of million might turn out to be a workable one. AWARENESS is the need of the hour.

from:  Marudah
Posted on: Aug 1, 2013 at 07:01 IST

It is true we are setting a lower standard for ourselves globally.
When most of the countries consider anything below $1.25 per day as an
income below poverty line, we in India are saying that we are poor
only if we get an income below $0.5, which is less than half of many
low-income countries. We cannot claim we are growing with more people
brought above poverty line, by taking the 'line' lower, instead of
bringing the people 'above'. Let us not fool ourselves with figures
that are misleading. We definitely have the potential to grow. We
should realize that we are far behind in the international scenario.
We should set high standards and try to achieve that, instead of
setting sub-standards and celebrating the 'non-achievement'.

from:  Saju
Posted on: Jul 31, 2013 at 17:02 IST

Indeed, as one of the readers has commented, by arbitrarily coming up
with insanely ridiculous numbers to define 'poverty' and to claim that
one can live off that amount speaks of the arrogance of the Planning
Commission and the government. Unfortunately the homeless and those at
the bottom of the pyramid who are victims of these number fixing are
unlikely to even read these statistics, leave alone understand the
implications of fixing these random numbers. And if they could there
would be bloodshed.

from:  Sriram
Posted on: Jul 31, 2013 at 01:07 IST

It is very pathetic that such an important figure, on which so many government policies and welfare programmes are based, is derived from so poor methodology. It is equivalent to saying that the solution to a problem lies in believing that the problem does not exist.

from:  Anchal Gupta
Posted on: Jul 31, 2013 at 00:08 IST

Well, you may be able to buy a meal for Re.1 as well if you
choose to drink the fat that was repeatedly used to fry stuff in
street shops and get 2300 calories a day, or buy rotten produce
that shopkeepers cannot spend on disposing off. Question is can
somebody buy/cook a nutritious meal with the even cheapest
grains, vegetables, fruits and condiments for Rs.12. And afford
safe housing, access to clean water, school and healthcare in
Rs.33 per day. Governments are elected to ensure basic amenities
and means of livelihood for the entire population. In the long
run it is catastrophic for any democracy to omit a growing
section of the population from sharing the fruits of the national
wealth, no one benefits from these cooked up numbers.

from:  Suma Snehalatha
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 23:05 IST

I sincerely believe that there is some problem in making the estimates for caloric intake in India. I see that this article says that Indians need 2,100-2,200 calories every day but the recommended intake in the USA and other countries is 1,800 calories for men and women and since men do the heavy labor they may warrant 1,800 while women who do medium and light labor would be substantiated with 1,600 calories per day. If you see in the long run taking more than 2,000 calories can lead to diseases like high blood sugar in adults, high blood pressure, etc. Another point is that whatever estimates you all are seeing through the World Bank, IMF or the National Planning Commission (NPC) are Just Estimates and nobody knows the real number of poor people in anywhere. I don't want to blame the NPC as this is not a complete mistake. NPC needs to be aware of the current inflation and other factors. But poverty has indeed decreased a lot in India now in comparison to 40 years ago.

from:  S. V. Raghavan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 22:32 IST

While I agree with most of what is said in the artcle, I feel that the ttle gives a wrong impression. For those who are unintiated to the method used for getting the number of poor, the title gives the impression that surveys are done to count the poor, which is not the case. The nember of poor is 'estimated'. The survey data only provides the distribtions necessary for that. The word 'counting' is normally associated by general public with surveys and censuses. The author does not fault the data collected in the surveys, but only on the method of using it for estimating the number of poor.

from:  K N Unni
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 22:21 IST

One of the best article on Poverty definition in India. It really shows how incompetent
the people at Planning Commission are. It's all about politics. Perhaps, all the big
shots need to go back to school to relearn everything.

from:  Vinci
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 22:20 IST

We have been reading and listening about poverty levels for various
sources.But the latest talks about the counting of poor and the
differences in the numbers are more than the poverty itself.setting
aside this issue,we could also another counting which is seen among
the
rich people.Whenever we have to give to the poor ,we look into our
pockets,count the money and decide what to give as
charity.Invariouably
it would be a fraction or nil.Every where the rich COUNT their wealth
and retain with them as much as possible.May be this is the reason,we
have more poverty in the country,inspite the number of rich is
sizeable
and growing day by day.The tamil poet Kamban ,in Bala Kandam,while
describing the pouring of rains ,says"Ulli,ulli,uvandhu Eeyum,valliyor
enna vazhaingina Megamey".Meaning the clouds would count the quantity
of water it has again and again and pour the entire water out like
the great givers called vallalgal.This is waht rich should do.
T.s.gopalakrishnan
chennai
30 th jul

from:  T.S.Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 21:53 IST

Given this pathetic record of the Planning Commission, it is even an
excellent initiative on the part of the TN Government to have launched
the "Amma Unavagam" - thus delivering a large portion of the
calories-requirement to both the urban and the rural poor of the
state. While the immediately obvious financial burden stares at the
state, the social benefits like impact on work-output-efficiency will
be large and will go to contributing back to the economy in the long-
run. Kudos to the TN Govt for totally ignoring the Planning
Commission's politically motivated LIES.

from:  S.K. Iyer
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 21:28 IST

The right word is "arrogance".Let them prove their method by simply
living with Rs.5/10 as they set the poverty standard.It is a "poor"
standard.

from:  Ramachandrasekaran
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:57 IST

It seems planning commission is first given figures of provety percentage ,then it asked to find out the method by which it can be justified.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:52 IST

The comments by Sri. V.R.Krishnan is excellent - it shows passion and empathy. alas, how sad the members in the planning comm.. don't seem to have an iota of it.

We need people like Mr. Krishnan in the planning commission who can empathize with the sufferings of the poor. The current bunch of people are a bunch of "traitors" - for they are letting down their own fellowmen by giving these false figures

it's painful to think these people spend the whole year traveling the globe to attend conferences and fitting multi-crore gadgets with swipe systems for their restrooms and then come up with a report as this

for all the benefits they enjoy, can these people at least not come up with a genuine report ? wish some person well-informed in law takes montek singh to court for mockery of the poor and abuse of his office by producing such worthless reports,which is tantamount to treachery of the nation - he should first be asked to compensate the exchequer for all the expense he has caused.

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:42 IST

Getting rid of the mandarins currently doling these figures will reduce half the problem as it allow us to arrive at more humane figures.

from:  Mrityunjay
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:28 IST

This joke is good enough for glorifying our image in front of UN and other international agencies around the world.
Hope, they are not serious about using these figures in social welfare schemes on which a major chunk of our BPL population depends.

from:  Shailendra Kumar
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:26 IST

It is for obvious reasons that the govt will show higher than the factual poverty numbers. Organisations like the planning commission need to be independent, honest and intelligent to quote the real facts so that they can be part of nation building.

from:  Muthu
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 20:22 IST

We have been reading and listening about poverty levels for various
sources.But the latest talks about the counting of poor and the
differences in the numbers are more than the poverty itself.setting
aside this issue,we could also another counting which is seen among
the
rich people.Whenever we have to give to the poor ,we look into our
pockets,count the money and decide what to give as
charity.Invariouably
it would be a fraction or nil.Every where the rich COUNT their wealth
and retain with them as much as possible.May be this is the reason,we
have more poverty in the country,inspite the number of rich is
sizeable
and growing day by day.The tamil poet Kamban ,in Bala Kandam,while
describing the pouring of rains ,says"Ulli,ulli,uvandhu Eeyum,valliyor
enna vazhaingina Megamey".Meaning the clouds would count the quantity
of water it has again and again and pour the entire water out like
the great givers called vallalgal.This is waht rich should do.

from:  T.S.Gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 19:44 IST

Poors are getting poorer and richs are getting richer.

from:  Nikhail Vermov
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 19:15 IST

Its of course very astonishing that poverty has declined to only 15% despite rising price of healthcare,education,electricity,LPG and most importantly high inflation in commercial goods and commodities combined with food articles.Yes that figure may have been achieved in eight years if there would have development in industrial sector, employment generation,new job creation,growth in agricultural sector and all that in which India should keep its way forward to achieve a handsome growth. But its surprising what stops the Planning commission to outline the actual estimate on poverty figure is a moot question.

from:  Bandana
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 18:32 IST

(1) Question is whether the political parties and their leaders are
interested in poverty alleviation programmes or are happy with the
class-room debate on definition of poverty and how it has been reduced
or not reduced. (2) If common people are agitated by the definition of
poverty which the Planning Commission has now announced, it is because
they see a danger that by not recognizing their aspiration needs and
by treating them as above poverty line (APL), the UPA government is
playing politics with poverty data. The opposition parties’
credibility too is not as good as to convince ordinary citizens that
they are committed to their welfare. (3) The poor and APL citizens
know how they are struggling to balance monthly budgets as costs of
food, housing, education and healthcare are increasing very day.
Incidentally, it is necessary that to recognize the fact that growth
in GDP, which does not improve lives of the poor and APL citizens, can
never end poverty in India.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 18:26 IST

Eliminate poor to alleviate poverty

from:  Krishna Kolhapuri
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 18:13 IST

This is the only number game to show how the bharat nirman is going on?

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 17:36 IST

A good article on the outrageous report of the Planning Commission.
Looks like everybody has been bought by the current Government. If we
bother to look one step further, as the writer here has pointed out,
even the World Bank figures appear ridiculous and miscalculated. Again
as the writer has mentioned that these figures could be used for
arguing for neo-liberal policies and pro-globalization trends, it could
have actually been made up for that very purpose. Misrepresentation of
facts and figures by eminent economists who are dancing to the tunes of
influential politicians and bureaucrats isn't a new thing.

from:  Aniroodh
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 17:18 IST

A momentous line by the author about minority of households are enjoying
their lives with unnecessarily expenses torching our irresponsibility
towards lower class.However,everyone has liberty to do so,but we need to
think collectively about this.Afterall it is our country.

from:  Sudhakar Mishra
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 17:04 IST

Poverty in India is caused by a number of factors. India was already in a weak state after becoming independent. However, overpopulation tends to be the leading factor. As there are poor employment opportunities in villages, people moved to cities, leading to crowded streets and unhealthy living conditions. Also, the belief of inferiority of women brought about the penury that Indians suffer from. Those living in rural areas depend on agriculture, which is dependent on rain patterns and the monsoon season. If there happens to be inadequate rain or monsoon failure, crops cease to grow, leading to a number of starving people. In addition, Indian families are generally made up of many members; thus, it is very difficult to provide for everyone. The caste system also plays a role in poverty-those in the lower classes are deprived of various opportunities and hundreds of millions are illiterate. Just as the rest of the impoverished world, they are misinformed about diseases and sanitation.
The external, situational, or structural factors of poverty are attributed to economic, political, and cultural factors operating on a higher, societal level. From a structural perspective, the argument is that most conditions of poverty can be traced back to factors inherent to either the economy or either institutional factors that serve to favour certain groups over others. Therefore poverty is attributed to unfriendly social, political, cultural, and economic factors. It is rooted in the basic set-up of society.
In India structural forces such as removal of subsidies, market reforms, increasing urbanisation, rising income inequality, and increasing segregation of people on caste or religious line, have produced pockets of concentration of affluence and poverty. The spatial concentration of affluence has enhanced the benefits and privileges of the rich by excluding the poor.
In a system characterised by such factors, poor people have fewer choices and consequently become less effective in solving their problems.

from:  Kurt Waschnig
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 16:21 IST

Thanks for this profound article. This article has provided logical
and rational rebuttals to counter poverty decline claims.

Normally, one would expect such analysis, facts and figures being
debated among politicians. However, we must alarmingly note that not
only quantity of debate but also the quality of debate has been on
continuous decline in every available forum including parliament.

The planning commission must explain the salary rise for government
employees as illustrated by the author here.

from:  Santosh Singh
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 14:12 IST

Full praise to the author for delivering the concept in a lucid way for a layman. The analogy drawn between the way salaries are fixed and the way poverty line is fixed is enlightening.

from:  Prateek Tiwari
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 14:01 IST

While I agree with these comments I would like to record my misgivings
about the accuracy of figures applying any parameter. How is it possible
to estimate the calories for an individual precisely as it varies
according to the individual. In our own family the 'apetite' varies from
person to person. Thus this is all guess work,and it is difficult to
achieve the elusive precision. A general survey of different sections of
society recording their level of satisfaction about their food needs
would suffice to estimate povery levels broadly speaking.

from:  S.Rajagopalan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 13:51 IST

A lot of kudos to you for publishing an excellent article on the
alleged decline of poverty in the country. Unfortunately, the members
of planning commission do not have any idea of poverty. If they are
forced to live in rural areas even for a month in the same way as the
Chinese were forced to live during Mao's cultural revolution they will
understand the definition of poverty. Even a pensioner under the
Provident Fund Scheme of the Union govt. receives pension a sum of
Rupees 20/- per month at the old age of 58 and above. I am 63 years of
age and getting pension @ Rs.1019/- per month. This pension is meant
for two persons (myself and wife ). Is it possible to live at Patna in
a rented house within this meagre sum ? I know how difficult my life
is. Daily or monthly income covers all expenditures such as rent,
food, vegetable, medicine, purchase of newspapers, payment of school
fee etc. Even the income of Rs.10000/- per month will not suffice.

from:  Bimal Chandra Jha
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 13:28 IST

The figures are astonishing. How can the eminent economists of the world be so careless? At present this might seem a mere fault, but in future I am sure this will bring a huge problem in front of the economists who will take the helm that time. If appropriate measures are not taken in coming years, only god knows what will happen.

from:  Manish
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 11:56 IST

Making immeasurable quantities into a measurable one is followed only
for the better understanding of the quantity. We can't achieve the exact
value by mathematical modeling or indexing. But it should be brought out
by considering all the practical factors and can be varied from the
actual value by few percentages. But the outputs derived by the Planning
Commission are far away from the original state which only used to make
people in the country to blame the so-called "economists and
intellectuals."

from:  Vignesh A
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 11:54 IST

It is an imaginary figure given by the planning commission on poverty
line. Our politicians defending these numbers claims that one can get
enough food at Rs.12 in Delhi. This might be possible but can he
ensure that that the food at this rate is fresh and quality food.
These poor are spending more on health expenses by eating such low
quality food, thus making them poorer. Also the target group under
Food Security Bill contradict these numbers.
Poverty is not related with availability of money only but the quality
of life one lives. On this parameter our country is among the poorest.

from:  Akshay Dhadda
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 11:36 IST

15% less poor in last eight years !!! Looks like another scam where ruling party will be
the beneficiary.

from:  Saswat
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 10:53 IST

The question to Ms Patnaik is: would you rather dilute the definition to
fit more people or focus it better to define absolute destitution? If
it's the name you have an issue with, as your article suggests, define
destitution at Rs 33, Poverty at Rs 66 and something else at Rs 99. No
one really has a problem with that. But to bring in a Rs 33 haircut is
just insulting to the family of 5 that earns that sum per person. They
probably cut each others' hair. A little empathy Ms Patnaik!

from:  Neel
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 10:49 IST

Montek Ahluwalia and his team in the PC, with their aristocratic background, elite education and their current super luxurious life styles, might not have skipped one meal in their whole life. So, quite naturally, they don't understand the word 'hunger'. When the fire burns in the abdomen and your eyes go dark with starvation, if someone tells you that (a) 'you can have a hearty meal for one rupee' (b) 'A full meal is available at 5 rupees' or (c) 'You can have a sumptuous Thaali for 12 rupees', even worse, "You can live on Rs 28 per day", that just means that the Country faces a potential Civil war in which the Montek Ahluwalia & Co will be burnt to ashes.

from:  V R KRISHNAN
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 10:44 IST

The author has rightly questioned "Why do the highly trained economists in the Commission ignore reality and continue with their incorrect method?" The answer is simple to befool people in the forthcoming assembly elections in five States this year and the Loksabha election next year that UPA-2 has achieved one of its major objectives during its tenure viz. phenomenally reducing the rate of poverty in terms of absolute number and percentage. Besides, the chairperson of the UPA-2 has permitted her loyal members viz. Raj Babbar, Farooq Abdula, and others to make public announcement that one can have a full meal for Rs.12, Rs.1 and Rs 5 a day in Mumbai, J&K and Delhi respectively exhibiting that there is no food-inflation in the country. Also, UPA-2 has a serious concern for Aam Aadami as it has promulgated National Food Security Ordinance to provide to 81 crore people monthly five kg of food grains at mere Rs. 1, 2 and 3 for millets, wheat and rice respectively.

from:  Dr Amrit Patel
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 08:50 IST

An eye opening article.

from:  Shejuguru
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 08:46 IST

All the economists and Planning Commission members, bureaucrats and
politicians etc., who are coming with such unrealistic figures, need to
prove their findings. They may be asked to sustain themselves for a
period of only ONE MONTH on their suggested figures of POVERTY, and then
inform the general public whether these figures are arrived at
correctly, or the methodology needs to be changed. Otherwise, people
will lose faith on these figures being brought from time to time by
governments and international agencies.

from:  J. Papesh
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 08:37 IST

In all the international agencies our ratings are low. we have most stunted, undernourished children. Everyone knows what they can do with 33 rupees in a day. These people who are drawing this line to define poverty should live a day with that 33 rupees and claim that they are not in poverty.successive governments failed to eradicate poverty, now they are more innovative to show that they actually reduced it. If poverty is reduced, they why it is not reflected in HDI rank, GHI rank etc.

from:  Navin
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 07:58 IST

In the din made by populist economists particularly from the leftist
concentrations in academia and politics, the reality is lost that
irrespective of the definition of the poverty line, the poor below
that line has reduced and reduced significantly decade by decade
because of general spread of prosperity driven by service industry
boom. What the various definitions of poverty do is to identify the
absolute numbers below the poverty line. A very low definition of
poverty line greatly reduces the absolute population of the poor and
vice versa. But the fact is that any definition of poverty line is
only relative with respect to the societal norms of minimum essential
income and consumption of essential commodities/services. A rich man's
or rich country's definition is likely to be considerably higher than
that of a poor man or country. In any case, a rich country's norm
cannot be applied to a poor country or vice versa, as leftist
economists try to do. India has to fix its own norms

from:  Chandra Shekhar A K
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 07:40 IST

If the Planning Commission's methods are spurious, how are they
corroborated by independent data and research, like the India
Development Survey (supported by the University of Maryland and other
researchers) which show the same levels of poverty as the NSSO data?
Also, how is that no reputed economist (take the world's top 200
universities, for example) have questioned the basic conclusions of
the NSSO data (that poverty is falling sharply)? Instead top
professional economists and international organizations use NSSO data
to compute estimates of poverty in India. Utsa Patnaik observes that
per-capita calorie consumption has fallen in India since the 1990's.
(Strangely as far as this is concerned, she believes the NSSO data!).
She takes this as proof of falling incomes. But as countries incomes
grow, people diversify away from a cereal rich diet towards more high
value and high nutrient, but low calorie foods- that is also seen in
other countries with rising incomes.

from:  Mitra
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 07:14 IST

The Planning Commission of India's role in formulating economic and social policies
for the country has been pathetic to say the least. Ahluwalia is a disgrace for the
country as he has pushed the downtrodden further into the ground with his
whimsical statements about the daily requirements of the people and his shoddy
econometrics. He should be forced to resign and live off the same amount he
preaches about so arrogantly. The media should publish the salaries, benefits and
perks of the Planning Commission so the people will know about their extravagant
lives .

from:  Srinivasan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 06:49 IST

Are you telling me that a family of four needs to make Rs 20000 per month in an urban area to be considered not poor?
Can you take actual prices, from PDS shops in Delhi and in the open market and tell me how much does one need to live?
It is nobody's case that the number of poor have risen. Take one of the states as an example. Tamil Nadu has 1.7 crore motorised vehicles for 2 crore households, are you telling me that people are choosing to starve but buy motorbikes? In village after village tat I travel to or travel past huts have all but disappeared. TVs are in 70% of homes. Yet I see this drivel that the past 20 years have been a disaster. If the problem statement is inequalities have risen, them it is accurate, and needs to be addressed.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 05:53 IST

When I was doing my Masters...one of the Profs used to quote..."There are lies, damned lies and Statistics"...I don't know how this sentence came into being..but someone in Planning Commission is trying to use all tools at hand to prove it true.

from:  Harsh
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 05:23 IST

Screwing up statistics with political intensions cannot be pardoned. Let us use the universal standard to measure poverty. The same problem is there for passing grades in schools, college admissions and granting degrees, by lowering the standards. Statistically the government may be correct, but morally the government is wrong to claim improvement in poverty and education using the doctored statistics. There is improvement in the middle class income but the poverty of the poor goes unabated.

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 04:02 IST

The title of the article is very apt. People around the world would love
to hear good stats coming out of the books of the economists but keeping
the public in the wrong light is very irresponsible to say the least. At
this point of times, we badly feel the reason to have a leader who is
ready to face the truth

from:  Abhinay
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 00:59 IST

The Planning claim of poverty decline in India is spurious. In reality, under the regime jobless growth and high food price inflation, poverty has been actually rising. Analysis of cross-country data on the level of living indicates that the average Indian is among the poorest of the world. Poverty is all too real and one hardly needs any statistics to show that the dimensions of poverty are staggering. Poverty abounds both in rural and urban areas, although its nature and extent varies between rural and urban areas. In the rural areas the peasant cultivators with very small holdings, the landless labourers and the rural artisans are the worst categories, whereas in the urban areas the poor are the unemployed and underemployed in what has come to be termed as unorganised/informal sector. There is a heavy concentration of informal jobs, which provide scope for the economic exploitation of the poor. In most of the metropolitan cities, migrant workers are predominant among the poor.

from:  Dr.C.Murukadas
Posted on: Jul 30, 2013 at 00:45 IST
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