Q) Write an essay on ‘Below Poverty Line in India’?
The Planning Commission of India recently adopted the Tendulkar Committee's methodology for poverty estimate that includes spends on education and health besides food, taking the number of the poor to a whopping 37.2 per cent from 27.5 per cent estimated earlier in 2004. This means that India now has 100 million more people living below the poverty line than in 2004.
National estimates of the percentage of the population falling below the poverty line are based on surveys of sub-groups, with the results weighted by the number of people in each group.
Definitions of poverty vary considerably among nations. For example, rich nations generally employ more generous standards of poverty than poor nations. What does poverty in India actually mean? It is difficult for those living in an industrialised country to truly appreciate the level of poverty in our country.
In the West, even those living in poverty can live in well-constructed dwellings, with heating, clean running water, indoor toilet facilities, access to health care, and even a vehicle. But such luxuries are a distant dream for India's poor.
The earlier definition of India's poverty was based on calorie intake, according to which only 27.5 per cent of people were living below the poverty line as on March 1, 2004 and the number of BPL families were about 6.5 crore (65 million).
As per the methodology suggested by the Tendulkar report, the number would swell to 37.2 per cent of the total population and the number of BPL families to about 8.1 crore (81 million). The new poverty estimate which would reflect the impact of high growth recorded during the decade, would be available in 2011. The computation of the number of BPL families at the this stage assumes significance in view of the government's decision to enact the food security law under which 25 kg of foodgrain at Rs 3 per kg would be provided every month to a BPL family.
The EGoM on food, which had cleared the draft of the Food Security Bill last month, was reportedly asked by United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi to have a re-look at the proposal and consider the possibility of raising the highly subsidised monthly foodgrain allocation to 35 kg from 25 kg and increasing the number of beneficiaries. Currently, a ration card holder is entitled to 35 kg of food grain every month. The Indian government spends only 1 per cent of its gross domestic product on healthcare facilities.
The government has found that 100 million more Indians are actually living below the poverty line than previously thought. Over 370 million Indians -- 40 per cent of the population -- are now eligible for subsidised food supplies.
According to the World Bank, more people are living in extreme poverty in developing countries than previously thought as it adjusted the recognised yardstick for measuring global poverty to $1.25 a day from $1.The poverty-fighting institution said there were 1.4 billion people -- a quarter of the developing world -- living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day in 2005. Last year, the World Bank said there were 1 billion people living under the previous $1 a day poverty mark.
India's official poverty measure has long been based solely upon the ability to purchase a minimum recommended daily diet of 2,400 kilocalories (kcal) in rural areas where about 70 percent of people live, and 2,100 kcal in urban areas. Rural areas usually have higher kcal requirements because of greater physical activity among rural residents.
The National Planning Commission, which is responsible for the estimate, currently estimates that a monthly income of about Rs 356 (about $7.74) per person is needed to provide the required diet in rural areas and Rs 539 in urban areas. Factors such as housing, healthcare and transportation are not taken into account in the poverty estimates. The estimate is derived from the National Sample Survey, which measures monthly per capita consumer expense every five years.
The below poverty line population is currently estimated at 29 per cent in rural areas and 26 per cent in urban areas. The World Bank estimates that 1.4 billion people live below an income of $1.25 per day and that 2.6 billion live below the $2 level worldwide.
According to oneworld.net, despite sustained high gross domestic product growth in India, latest estimates of global poverty by World Bank suggest that India has more people living below $2 than even sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the Bank's new estimates, India is home to roughly one-third of all the poor in the world.