Stop the whining PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 July 2011 00:00
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When the poverty data finally comes out later this year, an article by Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia points out, poverty levels are likely to be around 32.2% for 2009-10—that’s based on the Tendulkar method which, thanks to a vastly higher poverty threshold, raised the proportion of poor in the country in 2004-05 from 27.5% to 37.2%. A 5-percentage point decline is the highest India has ever seen, and keep in mind 2009-10 was a drought year, with the worst agriculture GDP growth since 2002-03. While poverty fell by 1 percentage point each year between 2004-05 and 2009-10, it fell by 0.81 percentage points per year between 1993-94 and 2004-05. For some states, the fall was nearly double the national average—9.9% for Andhra Pradesh, 10.6% for Tamil Nadu and 11.7% for Andhra Pradesh. Whether this decline in poverty satisfies the India Whining (as opposed to the NDA’s India Shining) brigade remains to be seen, but it would do well to keep in mind some of the big numbers from the latest NSSO survey round.

This is the first time in two decades that unemployment numbers have fallen. While there were 34.3 million unemployed in 2003-04, this was 28 million in 2009-10 according to the NSSO. In terms of the proportion of the workforce that is unemployed, as compared to 8.2% in 2003-04, the figure for 2009-10 is 6.6%. Given the fall in unemployment, not surprisingly, wage levels have also gone up dramatically. The biggest gain has been made by the female workforce, which has seen participation rates decelerate or even decline. Wage numbers for regular or salaried workers show that average earnings of female workers doubled in the five years between 2004-05 and 2009-10, from R86 to R156 in the rural sector and from R153 to R308 in the urban sector—annual growth of daily earnings of female workers has shot up from 1.7% between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 to an astounding 12.8% between 2004-05 and 2009-10 in rural areas and from 2% to 15% in urban areas. The gains were marginally lower for the male salaried or regular workers—between 2004-05 and 2009-10 the wages of regular or salaried male workers went up from R145 to R249 in the rural sector and from R203 to R378 in the urban sector—where the annual growth in wages picked up from 2.6% to 11.4% in rural areas and from 3.7% to 13.2% in urban areas. For a smaller sub-set, of agricultural workers, wages have gone up even more. Between January 2008 and December 2010, Labour Bureau data show, wages rose 106% in Andhra Pradesh, 62.3% in UP, 58% in Bihar, and so on. Perhaps the UPA will now finally adopt the India Shining election slogan?

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 March 2012 06:21 )

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