Controversy over claim of 22% fall in poverty: your 10-point cheatsheet The Planning Commission's declaration that the number of poor in India has fallen to 22% of the population in the last seven years has evoked strong protests from the opposition and from an important ally, Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party or NCP. Hereâ€™s your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big controversy: 1. Official data released on Tuesday say that the percentage of Indians living below the poverty line has fallen to 22 percent in 2011-12 from 37 per cent in 2004-05, a period of just seven years. The figures have been dismissed by critics as deeply flawed and by the BJP as "a cruel joke on the country" to benefit in the national elections, due by May, when the party will seek a third consecutive term. 2. The headline of the controversy, however, lies in the Planning Commission's declaration that anyone who spends more than Rs. 33.33 in a day in urban areas and Rs. 27.20 a day in rural areas is above the poverty line. 3. The Commission has stuck to an earlier controversial method of calculating poverty figures. It had in October 2011 impelled a heated national debate by saying anyone who spends more than Rs. 32 per day in urban areas is not poor, a theory that was criticised across the political spectrum as being unrealistic and unmindful of realities like raging inflation. 4. According to the World Bank, nearly 70 percent of India's population lives on less than $2 or about Rs. 120 a day - often cited as the baseline for poverty in the country. 5. Poverty estimates are used to determine public access to welfare benefits such as subsidised fuel. 6. Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi has asked states to start rolling out a massive new Food Security programme next month, which will be the world's largest in providing highly subsidized wheat and rice to poor families. "State governments can use the updated data for identifying beneficiaries," Food Minister KV Thomas said, though the food security scheme will cover nearly 800 million people, far more than the 270 million people identified as below the poverty line. 7. The Planning Commission has noted that the poverty numbers could be revised upward based on findings of a committee led by top government adviser C Rangarajan which is reviewing the methodology for measuring poverty and is due to report in 2014. 8. The committee was set up in 2011 to reassess the way of estimating the number of poor after critics accused the government of trying to massage poverty figures down for political gain. But even if the percentage of poor increases, the "rate of decline (between 2004-05 and 2011-12) would be similar", the committee said. 9. While economic growth slowed last year to a decade low of five percent, the government argues near double-digit expansion in previous years has driven a dramatic reduction in poverty in the country of 1.2 billion people. 10. The BJP's opposition to the new data may be prompted partly by the results which show Congress states like Rajasthan bettering Gujarat in alleviating poverty. Controversy over claim of 22% fall in poverty: your 10-point cheatsheet | NDTV.com *************************************** I heard the NDTV Left Right and Centre. Some interesting issues raised were: 1. To raise people above the poverty line the calorific intake was lowered as an index/input. 2. 20% are no longer BPL. 3. Yet Food security Bill is for 70% of the population. 4. The planning Commission person admitted that the poverty quotient in cash was incorrect 5.Rangarajan Committee has been constituted to once again examine the issue. 6. This Report is published every five years and this time it was released Earlier. ***************************************** The issue is if the figure are incorrect as per the Planning Commission person on the Debate and a Committee has been set up to examine the figures de novo, then why release it earlier than the accepted schedule routine of releasing every 5 Years? If a Committee has been set up to reexamine the figures, it obviously means that it is flawed and there is doubts. So, why not wait before releasing the Report as per routine? If poverty has been diminished by 20%, then obviously, 70% do not require to be the beneficiary of the Food Security Bill. How can the caloric intake be made to suit the flavour of the season? In short, this silly Govt is tying itself in knots and acting the fool!