Anyone performing a dual or multiple tasks at one stroke is considered as an able and competent individual worthy of emulation. The Holy Ramayana and the epic Mahabharata are replete with examples of chivalry of a single individual taking on thousand of his like or less and killing them all at one go in a solitary arrow. My reason for referring to above acts is to highlight the poverty identification formulae of our Planning Commission which, at the stroke of a pen, has turned cores of poor people into rich people without any spurt in their standard of living or riches, if any. In fact, the ground reality is that scores of people are dipping downwards in want and poverty due to ever-rising inflation.

The government is hiding the whole truth by taking undue and unwanted credit in hitting two targets at one stroke. Firstly, the government is satisfied having reduced people living below poverty line in cores, at least, in pen and paper. Similarly, the government is receiving international accolades for being able to reduce poverty at jet speed as per statistics shown to them outside. The government has reduced life’s yardstick by their anti people, anti country and anti laborer measures, shading and shattering hopes and aspirations of people at large.

Many preys and one shot:

In order to multiply the criticism of the Planning Commission, the government has come out with welfare measures for the beneficiaries below the poverty line with food security measures pending for legislation in the form of an ordinance. But, what the government has done so far, at the stroke of a pen it has turned cores of population from BPL (Below Poverty Line) to APL (Above Poverty Line), thereby saving thousands and thousands of cores of rupees of the government exchequer and taking credit for nothing. Such steps of the government are both undemocratic and anti-poor. This is a cruel joke on the people of the country. Generally, the National Sample Research Bureau, a wing of the Planning Commission, basing on per capital expenditure of consumers of national and state averages, comes out with statistics on BPL, APL and rich persons.

On the other hand, Rural Development Corporation and Urban Housing and Poverty amelioration department of the government, identify families living below poverty lines. The system of vague since 1962 when per capital income of less than 20 rupees in rural areas and less than 25 rupees in urban areas was the yardstick of judging poverty.

Poverty identification yardstick:

In 1979, government poverty identification yardstick was in terms of consumption of calories which has less than 2435 and 2095 in rural and urban population respectively. Succeeding years saw change of calories into expenses once again and consumer price index for people was fixed at 49 rupees for agricultural and laborers and 56 rupees for industrial workers. Such a notion created a chaotic difference among states based on the purchasing powers of consumers in the respective areas. In the wake of arguments and counter arguments, the government appointed a committee known as Suresh Tendulkar Committee to fix different norms of poverty.

Mr.. Suresh Tendulkar was earlier the chairman of the Prime Minister’s financial advisory committee. The Tendulkar Committee followed the mixed reference period system instead of uniform reference period system. According to the uniform recall (reference) period system, petitioners give information on goods and services they use during the past 30 days. On the other hand, according to mix recall (reference) period petitioners scarcely using five non-food items, such as clothes, shoes, socks, expenses on education and hospital for the last 365 days are excluded. In order to exclude more and more people below the poverty line, 2100 calories of the urban yardstick was reduced to 1775 calories were per capital expenses on education and health were considered 30 rupees a month.

The Planning Commission announcement on poverty yard stick:

In this manner, the poverty yard stick of 2004-05 in urban areas was 578.80 rupees and 446.68 rupees for rural areas. The urban and rural poor were fixed at 25.7% and 41.8% as per the above calculation. But what now Tendulkar has arrived at is irrational and unfounded conclusion. Basing on 66th sample survey of 2009-10, the Planning Commission announced in 2011 that per capital income exceeding 26 rupees in rural areas and 32 rupees in urban areas are thought people above the poverty line.

To add fuel to the fire, the Planning Commission further slashed the per capital income level to 28.65 rupees and 22.42 rupees amid protests all around. Also further revision of poverty criteria, the Planning Commission on 23rd July of 2013, has re-fixed the per capita per day income at 27.20 rupees and 33.33 rupees for rural and urban poor respectively. Poverty line calculation is turning to be starvation line calculation. Our status in the world has come down considerably during the past few years.  In the Human Development Index, India is in 136th position among 186 countries. In the Starvation Index, we are in 65th place among 79 countries.


The appalling situation is that the urban and the rural poor are the result of faulty planning and irrational attitude of the government. It is high time that the poverty line is re drawn and the actual calculation should be in place to see a developed India and a smiling poor.

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