New Delhi, March 20, 2012: The Planning Commission has again revised the poverty threshold. It has pegged the poverty line at Rs. 28.65 per capita daily consumption in cities and Rs. 22.42 in rural areas, scaling down Indias poverty ratio to 29.8 per cent in 2009- 10.
These estimates are likely to raise the hackles of civil society. An individual who has a monthly consumption of Rs.859.6 in urban areas and Rs. 672.8 in rural areas is not considered poor, as per the controversial formula.
The poverty threshold is now even lower than Plan Panel had submitted to the Supreme Court last year, which created an outcry among the civil society.
The Plan panel had then 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'. The civil society had questioned this definition stating it was very low.
It has this time kept it even lower than the Rs 32 per capita per day consumption in urban cities and Rs 26 in rural areas, based on June 2011 prices.
As per estimates released on Monday, the number of poor in India has declined to 34.47 crore in 2009- 10 from 40.72 crore in 2004- 05, estimated on the basis of the controversial Tendulkar Committee methodology.
The methodology recommended by the committee includes spending on health and education, besides the calorie intake.
Among religious groups, Sikhs have the lowest poverty ratio in rural areas at 11.9 per cent, whereas in urban areas, Christians have the lowest proportion of poor at 12.9 per cent. Poverty ratio is the highest for Muslims, at 33.9 per cent, in urban areas.
Going by the controversial daily consumption number of Rs 28.65 per day, one out of every three Indians is poor.
In rural areas, poverty ratio for Muslims is very high in states such as Assam ( 53.6 per cent), Uttar Pradesh ( 44.4 per cent), West Bengal ( 34.4 per cent) and Gujarat ( 31.4 per cent).
Similarly, for urban areas, the ratio is high for Muslims in states such as Rajasthan ( 29.5 per cent), Uttar Pradesh ( 49.5 per cent), Gujarat ( 42.4 per cent), Bihar ( 56.5 per cent) and West Bengal ( 34.9 per cent).
Among social categories, Scheduled Tribes face the highest level of poverty at 47.4 per cent, followed by Scheduled Castes at 42.3 per cent and Other Backward Castes at 31.9 per cent, as against 33.8 per cent for all classes in rural areas.
Among the various occupational groups, nearly 50 per cent of agricultural labourers and 40 per cent of other labourers are below the poverty line in rural areas, whereas in urban areas, the poverty ratio for casual labourers is 47.1 percent.
Those in regular wage or salaried employment have the lowest proportion of poor. In the agriculturally prosperous state of Haryana, 55.9 per cent agricultural labourers are poor, whereas in Punjab the number is 35.6 per cent. (Source: The Free Press)