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Who is poor and who is rich: Yet another report, but the story remains same
What is the criteria for being poor in India? Sounds bit funny, but it has become a huge debate topic in the country that what should be one's income so that he or she can be categorised under below and above poverty line.

A latest report by former RBI governor C Rangrajan says that anyone in urban India who spends more than Rs 47 and more than Rs 32 in rural India are not poor. A similar report by Suresh Tendulkar committee, backed by the Planning Commission of India, last year had said that if someone in rural area is spending more than Rs 27 and Rs 33 in urban areas is above poverty line.

When this controversial report of the commission came in there was a hue and cry, and the government then tasked C. Rangrajan to come out with a revised report. And what Rangrajan panel has done is addition of few more currencies in the spending capacity to make someone to exist in the list of APL.

Is an addition of Rs 5 in rural areas and Rs 14 in urban areas in the spending capacity of people in the present time when there high inflationary pressure, enough to put them in the category of rich (APL)?

Mohammad Shafiq, a Social Science professor from Jamia Millia Islamia University said ?Basically the price rise is so high, that this new poverty line won't be justified. How can people get a full meal in such small amount? Poverty line should be decided on the basis of the availability of the product or food, which can be easily available in the common market. There is lot of variation in different cities and people's psychological thinking, so it is difficult to define a poverty line uniformly.?

He added, ?I think the government should be able to control the uniformity of prices. If you see, within Delhi in CP the price is different, in South Delhi its different and in Shahadra is different. So, before deciding anything, we should be able to control the market.?

Dr. BB Bhattacharya, former JNU V-C and an eminent economist, compared both the poverty lines criteria that is of Suresh Tendulkar Committee and C Rangarajan Committee and said, ?These are two different methodologies altogether, earlier was absolute measure of poverty and now it is relative measure. So there is a difference between the two approaches altogether. Now what we have is the bottom 30 per cent people income is defined as poverty, earlier was absolute basic necessity how much you need to buy food, that was the poverty. So, its a different approach altogether.?

Rajesh Dixit, Samajwadi Party's National Secretary said, ?See, earlier the Congress leaders and Congress government were making a mockery of the poor people and now BJP is going on the same line. And basically they are degrading, insulting the poor people and are making fun of them. Which is not appropriate. Whatever the report this committee has suggested needs to be revisited and the poverty limit has to be increased.?

Usually the poverty estimate in India is derived from the household consumer expenditure data, which is collected by National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) every fifth year. The Planning Commission updates the poverty line according to the food which fulfills the calorie norms.

But, the Suresh Tendulkar committee in 2011 defined the poverty line on the basis of monthly spending on food, education, health, electricity and transport. According to this estimate, a person who spends Rs. 27.2 in rural areas and Rs. 33.3 in urban areas a day are defined as living below the poverty line. And for a family of five who spends less than Rs. 4,080 and Rs. 5,000 in rural and urban areas respectively are considered below the poverty line.


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