Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ebb of A Once Hungry Tide

Ebb of A Once Hungry Tide                                                                    05 Sept 2013
India’s political class must celebrate, not bicker over, the unprecedented decline in poverty
Rather than seize the opportunity and claim credit for it-after all, the 8% growth, which was central to the decline in poverty, could not have happened without the sustained reforms by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – the national leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party has chosen to decry the poverty decline itself. It argues that the Planning commission’s estimates are based on an unacceptably low poverty line. Not to be outdone, the Congress leadership recently rushed to reprimand Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood for 9clumsily) trying to defend the poverty line.

The significance of the latest poverty numbers can be best appreciated by recognizing that during the first three decades of Independence, the nation saw no decline whatsoever in poverty at an even lower poverty line than the currently used Tendulkar line. In contrast, in the latest round, thanks to the 8.6% per annum growth, we have cut the proportion of the population living below the Tendulkar poverty line from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 21.9%, three large poor states – Bihar, Rajasthan and Odisha – have each slashed this proportion by 20 percentage points or more.

But our politicians and television journalists uniformly deny these gains on the specious pretext that the Tendulkar poverty line is too low to accurately capture the progress in poverty alleviation. It does not natter that at $1.29 per person per day in purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars, this line is above the $1.25 poverty line that the World Bank uses to measure extreme poverty in more than a hundred developing countries.

For the sake of argument, however, suppose we so raise the poverty line 50% above the Tendulkar line. This amounts to Rs. 7,500 per month per urban house hold of five at 2011-12 prices. In PPP dollars, it equals $1.94 per person per day a hair’s breadth below the $2 line that the World Bank reserves for measuring poverty in the middle-income countries.

The implication of this exercise is stark: if we wish to track the destitute, the prudent course will be to leave the Tendulkar line alone. If a higher line is still needed to give comfort to our politicians and television journalists, let us introduce a second line. It is time that the politicians and television journalists recognize the obvious: by denying the unprecedented poverty decline that has happened, they run down growth and harm the poor in the process.

Extract of an article in TOI dated 24 Aug 2013 Arvind Panagariya


Undoubtedly, poverty levels have come down. When I remember my days of 50’s or even 60’s, washer man, milkman, mochi used to be in tattered clothes, and broken and dilapidated cycles. Today such working class people are better dressed and move on motorcycles. Purchasing power is better and working class people are aspiring for even better and why not.

The percentage of the people (BPL) is on the increase. Because we are in the phase of “EXPLODING POPULATION”. This number (BPL) would continue to grow larger till we bring in some stricter norms as a “Population Policy”. Food Security Bill is an excellent approach to provide essentials to the majority of the (67% people of Population). Food Security Bill is in the real sense is JEEVAN SURAKSHA BILL. 

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