Poverty numbers are a farce

When the Planning Commission submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court last week with the purposive cut-off for eligibility to the government's welfare schemes, it could not have reckoned with the flak it would draw from various segments hitting at its idea of the numbers living below the poverty line. Not just commentators but members of the government such as Mr Jairam Ramesh were quick to fault the Plan panel's calculations. The indefatigable Rural Development Minister shot off a missive to Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia questioning the planning agency's methodology and reminding him that his Ministry was conducting its own BPL census based on criteria approved by the Cabinet.

Not surprisingly, the Planning Commission began backing away from its own affidavit in various ways; one news report quoted members such as Prof Abhijit Sen qualifying the affidavit's policy implications with the assurance that the estimate of Below-the Poverty-Line would not be used to separate the needy from the not-so-needy; those numbers, they are reported to have said, would be arrived at from the socio-economic caste census due in December, conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development......Read More


Source: Business Line

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