How poor are we?

BY ALETTA D’CRUZ

India, they say is a developing country, described as a nation with a low level of material well-being. However, if the Planning Commission of India is to be believed, then, India should top the list of ‘developed’ countries, as we could easily come across as a nation with almost negligible poverty.

The Planning Commission, in an attempt to redefine the ‘poor’ and classify them as falling below the poverty line, set the new spending limit at Rs 32 per day. So, if one spends more than Rs. 965 per month, they are deemed not to be poor.

Below Poverty Line is a concept that can be defined as an economic benchmark and is the poverty threshold used by the government of India to indicate economic disadvantage and to identify individuals and households in need of government assistance and aid. The poverty line is a concept that includes both food and non-food essentials, hence taking into account the overall expenditure of a person. Those who fall above this line of differentiation can easily be refused the benefits that the Government has to offer to the poor.

The Planning Commission’s new spending limit is completely unrealistic in nature. It comes across as an illusion that the nation would like to believe, where being poor is a novelty of a kind. It gives the idea that food, travel, health, education, housing etc, can all be covered with a mere amount of Rs 32 per day.

What the Government of India has however failed to realise is the fact that we as a nation have moved into the 21st century, and with the increasing prices in every sector of the economy, one cannot afford to depend on just Rs 965 per month to survive.

Have the esteemed members of the Planning Commission turned a blind eye to the economics of the nation, or have they just assumed that nutrition and well-being comes at a very cheap price? Maybe, it is time that these members gave up their comfort and lived the life of a common man, so that they can first practice what they have so conveniently preached.

The new below-poverty-line criteria come across not only as a shock, but also as a disgrace on the part of the Government. It is a mockery of sorts that even bypasses the meaning of ‘living from hand to mouth.’

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