New Delhi:Measuring the Poor in India has always been in debate amongst the experts because there is no uniform measure of poverty in India to address all the associated questions related on the validity of poverty in India.
India didn't made any official consensus in last 60 years of its growth run on what percentage of the population lived below the poverty demarcation even the definition of poverty line itself lands in controversy amongst the experts as country still counts their poverty on the rudimentary nutritional parameters that no longer exists on ground.
The price disparity supported by the poor distribution channel of the food material and other agriculture product across the country reflects wide range of variation in same period for example Tomato in Badkagaon in a agriculture heartland in a tribal state Jharkhand which is just 30 kilometer away from the district town costs 1 rupee per kg or even lower in peak harvest season but the same tomato costs above Rs 40 per kg in the Delhi which is about 1200 km away ,similarly the salt that comes Rs 5 a kg in other place are costing more than 50 a kg in several parts of North eastern region of the country.
There several such examples we can explore on the shopping list of a common Indian where price disparity is significant. For a glance there were multiple definitions of poverty in India among them the definition accepted by Planing Comission of India for the demarcation of poverty was in nutritional terms as per that below 2,400 calories daily in rural areas or below 2,100 calories daily in urban areas will be treated as poor population.
Later on PCI suggested the expenditure of Rs 26 in rural area and Rs 32 in urban area meaning a family of 5 spending less than Rs 4,824 (at June, 2011, prices) in urban areas will fall in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category.
The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905 the definition was seen adverse comments from the Supreme Court where Plan panel had said in its affidavit before the apex court that the "poverty line at June 2011 price level can be placed provisionally at Rs 965 (32 per day) per capita per month in urban areas and Rs 781 (26 per day) in rural areas".
And now they came with their latest definition if poverty in India according to this Plan panel has kept the poverty threshold even lower than it submitted to the Supreme Court last year by further reducing the poverty line in its latest definition that released on March 19 to Rs 28.65 per capita daily consumption in urban area and Rs 22.42 in rural areas, scaling down India's poverty ratio to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10.
Although the "poverty" is a vague term and cannot be defined precisely but its definition must be close to reality and adjusted time to time in line with the macroeconomic condition it must incorporate the basics like Annual poverty rate, Average monthly poverty, Chronic or long-term poverty, Income-to-poverty ratio to get the real picture.
As far as global validity of the Indian nutritional system is concerned in the United States the 2,000-calorie daily diet is considered as healthy for the average American.
In caloric terms, then, a majority of Americans are poor but this is not a fact Using nutrition as the DNA to define poverty line in India is misleading and does not provide insight into countries’ poverty problem.India is struggling with defining and measuring poverty in the country.
In the years 2004-2005, there are several conflicting estimates by different official committees: the Lakdawala committee says 26%, the Suresh Tendulkar committee says 37%, the World Bank says 42%, the Arjun Sengupta committee says 77% and Utsa Patnaik says approximately 80%.
The wide disparities in the poverty count are shocking because all these sources are using the same distribution of consumption expenditure figures from the National Sample Survey Organization.Countries prime policy body Planning Commission of India has taken steps to alleviate the confusion surrounding the breadth of poverty statistics by accepting the Tendulkar committee’s report and requesting that the committee revise poverty estimates.
The agreed upon figure is now 37%. And the latest count by Planning Commission of India says 29.8 per cent in 2009-10.
The above parameters are far below than World Bank’s technical definition of extreme poverty demarcates the people living below the expense of $1.25 per day, which is adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP).
The complexity of poverty was formally recognized when the United Nation introduced the Human Development Indicators. These go beyond the traditional development economics model of basic necessities which is Food, Clothing and Shelter in India Popularly called Roti Kapda aur Makan.
There are more acceptances globally that these three items of a person’s life – and any lack thereof are not the only ones indicative of poverty. In countries like India, what refuted the traditional caloric definition of poverty was the fact that multiple independent nutrition surveys did not confirmed the trend of calorie intake up to the desired expectation.
Poverty is not just about food but here it starts. Indian economy is one of the fasted growing which has grown around 9 % per year in past and in the current melt down across the globe it is able to achieve 7% and the draft of 11th five year plan targeting once again 9% growth food is not the only the issue as socio-economic divides widen.
The basic cause of the poverty was also the lack of opportunity to participate in the inclusive growth process, education, unemployment and health being the biggest hurdle to access such opportunities.The poverty count parameters don’t counts education, unemployment and health the nature of poverty is human but in India it is just a statistics. People and organizations working on the ground level in India, and elsewhere, can testify to what defines poverty.
Statistics are important because they give the public perspective and they frame an issue neatly.But poverty is far from systematic because it is dynamic. If it was, an absolute solution would have been invented a long time ago.The basic need for the India is to make a proper and productive attack on the building blocks of the poverty like education, unemployment, agriculture infrastructure, health facility to tame the poverty which is beyond the definition.
India is losing its fiscal discipline because some irrational policy measure additional particularly subsidizing the people who can afford it is the prime bump in the policy, sluggish capital expenditure irrational interest rate delaying in execution of projects increasing unemployment deteriorating living standards are the real block where Indian poverty stands.
There is no holy grail but good governance and concentrated policy measure can contribute to arrest spreading poverty in India.