Planning Commission released new data which has made many insecure. The new report showed the poverty line lowered, thus making many fear that they would now be considered above poverty line, hence devoid of the food subsidies, if they spent more than the stipulated RS 28 per day. However, commission chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia was quick to make it clear that the poverty line cutoff of RS 28 will not rob people of their entitlement of food subsidies.
Ahluwalia assured about the number on the report, “Focus of poverty line is not about entitlements, it is to determine if inclusive growth is working.”
He added that the food subsidies are not restricted to people below poverty line. He added, “We are using the old poverty line because the consumer survey is from an earlier year.”
The new report released by the Planning Commission shows estimated data that shows that the number of people below poverty line has gone down from 37.2% or 400 million in 2004-05 to 29.8% or 360 million Indians in 2009-10.
The new report by the panel defines the poor as one who spends less than Rs 28 per day in urban areas and Rs 22.5 in rural areas. This is considerably lower than the number submitted to the Supreme Court for the year 2010-11, which stands at Rs 32 in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas.
The report also showed that there was a 1.4% annual drop in poverty during the period under survey, as compared to 0.8% points between 1993 and 2004. The states that have done well in these years are all non-UPA-ruled states, except Maharashtra. Only Uttar Pradesh and five northeastern states showed an increased number of poors.
Ahluwalia described this as the failure of UPA government’s “successful” inclusive growth strategy.