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Saturday, 24 March 2012 00:00
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Only that explains the need to revise the poverty line

Removing Dinesh Trivedi, and rolling back even his modest passenger fare hikes, in the face of an angry Mamata Banerjee is one thing, but what’s happening in the case of the poverty line is altogether different, and suggests the government has absolutely no stomach for any kind of decision-making, even for academic purposes. With the government conceding that all anti-poverty expenditure will be based on the BPL census which looks at various socio-economic criterion, and not on the poverty line, the poverty line was at best an academic exercise, merely a means of knowing how well the population had done with respect to a fixed parameter. On that parameter, as we’ve seen (http://bit.ly/GDIZhL), India has never done as well—‘poverty’ has never fallen as fast, and for all groups including SC/STs and Muslims.

That, however, is not acceptable to the Opposition and likely to sections of the UPA who, despite all the evidence to the contrary, prefer to see a India Whining instead of an India Shining. So the Prime Minister has said a new poverty line definition will be arrived at by a committee headed by, presumably, someone of the right frame of mind. Someone who doesn’t know India’s consumption data from which the poverty levels are calculated understates consumption by 55%; someone who doesn’t keep in mind that, at R3 lakh crore, India’s anti-poverty expenditure adds another R25 per day to each poor person’s spending, or roughly doubling it. While the new improved poverty line may take India’s poor back to the 47.8% of 1993-94, it still can’t take away from the fact that, based on whatever poverty line you choose, India’s growth has been very inclusive.



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