This refers to the editorial “Vanishing poverty trick” and the report “Beyond the debate, govt. accepts 65% Indians are poor” (July 25). Planning Commission pundits have their own standards of evaluation to arrive at poverty levels which are far removed from reality.
Peter Drucker was right when he said that “in all recorded history there has not been one economist who had to worry about where the next meal would come from.” It is for the common man to worry about these everyday issues.
Poverty should be measured not only in terms of calorie intake but also availability of basic amenities. There are millions of households which do not have access to clean drinking water, sanitation, health care, education, etc.
Access to food alone cannot determine whether or not a person is above poverty line.
The controversy over the determination of poverty line is nothing new. Parties in power try to play with statistics through the Planning Commission. Poor statistics lead to poor policies, from which many are left out. There is need to set up an independent body which can determine poverty and other economic indicators without influence from political lobbies.
We need committed and selfless leaders who are brave enough to take unpopular decisions for the larger welfare of society and are willing to lose elections, if necessary. Governments should invest more on education, health and infrastructure. Populist schemes like freebies should be stopped. Data on government expenditure indicate that the allocation for education, health care, water and sanitation has decreased over the last two decades. Give uninterruped power supply, not free electrical appliances. Give clean water, not free food.