Vinod Anand | 02 Aug 2013

SCENARIO OF POVERT IN INDIA IN 2009-10 [Vinod Anand] According to the Planning Commission Poverty in India declined 7.3 percentage points to 29.8 per cent of the population over five years to 2009-10. Poverty in rural areas declined at a faster pace than in urban cities between 2004-05 and 2009-10 The total number of poor in the country has been estimated at 34.47 crore in 2009-10, as against 40.72 crore in 2004-05. The all India head count (HCR) ratio has declined by 7.3 percentage points from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10, with rural poverty declining by 8 percentage points from 41.8 per cent to 33.8 per cent and urban poverty declining by 4.8 percentage point form 25.7 per cent to 20.9 per cent. The sharp decline in poverty of over 10 percentage points was witnessed in Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttarakhand. The poverty has increased in North-eastern states of Assam, Meghalàya, Manipur Mizoram and Nagaland, whereas some of the bigger states ( in terms of population), such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have shown only marginal decline in poverty ratio, particularly in rural areas. The data reveals that among religious groups, Sikhs have lowest poverty ratio in rural areas at 11.9 per cent, whereas in urban areas, Christians have the lowest proportion of poor in the country at 12.9 per cent. In rural areas, poverty ratio for Muslims is very high in states such as Assam (53.6 per cent), Utter Pradesh (44.4 per cent), West Bengal (344 per cent) and Gujarat (3L4 per cent). In urban areas, poverty ratio at all India level is the highest for Muslims at 33.9 per cent. Similarly, for urban areas, the ratio is high for Muslims in states such as Rajasthan (29.5 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (49.5 per cent), Gujarat (42.4 percent), Bihar (56.5 per cent) and West Bengal (34.9 per cent), Among social categories, Scheduled Tribes face the highest level of poverty at 474 per cent, followed by Scheduled Castes at 42.3 per cent and Other Backward Castes at 31.9 per cent as against 33.8 per cent for all classes in rural areas. In urban areas, Scheduled Castes (SCs) have poverty ratio of 34.1 per cent, followed by Scheduled Tribes (STs) at 30.4 per cent and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) at 24.3 per cent against 20.9 per cent for all classes. In rural Bihar and Chhattisgarh, nearly two-third of SCs and STs are poor, whereas in states such as Manipur, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh the poverty ratio for these groups is more than half. Among the states, high incidence of poverty ratio is witnessed in Bihar at (53.5 per cent), PTI . These estimates of poverty are based on methodology recommended by the Tendulkar Committee, which includes spending on health and education, besides the calorie intake. But, there is no proof that these estimates truly reflect the poverty scenario in the country. In fact all this is fabricated. Let us see how? The apparent is seldom the real regardless of which vital statistic is sought to be enhanced. What in fact happens in reality is not what the Government has indicated through the estimates as mentioned above. The fact is that The Planning Commission is only philosophical, and does not look at what happens in real life. We must remember that welfare states know the dangers of poverty becoming a lifestyle choice. But when our politicians get into the act, it is more pernicious. A breathless media plays up every such instance of instant penury — which only adds insult to the injury of a class damned precisely because it is so invisible. Unfortunately, India’s poverty alleviation measures are notorious for elevating the incomes of those entrusted with delivering them to their rightful beneficiaries. Like poverty, wealth is merely relative. Even The second wealthiest person is poor compared to the to richest person, The new standards of the Planning Commission would consider more parameters for assessing poverty. Earlier a family was called poor if did not have the required income to buy sufficient food containing a minimum number of calories (2100 for urban areas and 2400 for rural areas) per day. Now, the minimum income required to rise above poverty, apart from food, would also depend on expenditure on education, health and sanitation. There will be no distinction between urban and rural households as far as the calorie intake is concerned. This revised measurement of poverty will surely increase the number of people below the poverty line, but there is a silver lining too in terms of the provision of education, health, and sanitation facilities to the poor to ameliorate their lot. In case the measurement also accounts for many other socio-economic facilities, then the poverty line will further move up, and may be the number of poor people (in the new sense) will reach say up to 70 or even 80 percent. The Government has, therefore, to work out an optimal trade-off between the various parameters to estimate the poverty line, and its level. More are the parameters, more upwards would is the poverty line, and vice versa. The Government should follow the international standard for determining the level of the poverty line.     PAGE  PAGE 2