Planning Comm redefines 'poor' in Ind;Rs 32 enough for a day

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Indian women
New Delhi, Sept 21: The Planning Commission seem to have redefined the term 'poor' in India. In its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Commission has claimed that those spending more than Rs 965 per month in urban India and Rs 781 in rural India will not be considered poor. To have a better understanding on who would be put under the bracket of 'Below Poverty-line' (BPL), the commission said that people spending more than Rs 32 a day in urban areas and Rs 26 a day in villages will not be eligible to get the benefits of govt schemes meant for those living below the BPL.

In a blatant disregard for the realistic expenses of the struggling middle class who finds it difficult to make ends meet in times of inflation and spiralling costs of fuel and food prices, many have called the Planning Commissions classification ridiculous and outrageous.

The Commission stated that these were provisional figures based on the Tendulkar committee report based on the Consumer Price Index for industrial and agricultural workers. The Commission has found that the number of people falling below the BPL is 40.74 crore. It also revealed in its affidavit to the apex court that the the poverty line for the urban and rural areas could be provisionally placed at Rs.965 per capita per month (around Rs.32 per day) and Rs.781 per capita per month (around Rs.26 per day), respectively.

The affidavit submitted also added that the BPL population covered by the public distribution services (PDS) was 35.98 crore. It said, "If the Tendulkar (committee) poverty ratio for 2004/05 is applied to the projected population of the Registrar General of India as on March 1, 2005, the total BPL population would be 40.74 crore."

The affidavit was based on May 14 order of the Supreme Court by the bench comprising of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma which stated that according to the expert group headed by Suresh Tendulkar at the price level of 2011, it was impossible for those living in urban and rural areas to consume 2,100 calories in Rs.20 and Rs.15, respectively.

The bench had sought from the Planning Commission to 'revise norms of per capita amount looking at the price index of May 2011 or any subsequent dates'. The affidavit said, "At June 2011 price level, for a family of five, this provisional poverty line would amount to Rs.4,824 per month in urban areas and Rs.3,905 per month in rural areas."

The final figures on the poverty line would be available only after the completion of the 2011-12 National Sample Survey (NSS). This would make variations in the Tendulkar Committee ratio.

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