Poverty Estimation in India: The BIG Question

Posted on July 6, 2011 in Society

By Tanushri Banerjee:

What is poverty?

Poverty is the state of one who lacks a certain amount of material possessions or money. Destitution refers to being unable to afford basic human needs, such as clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter.

In an article, Pradyot Lal in the Sahara Time magazine says, that “In the last fiscal, the country touched the 260 million ton mark in producing food grains. Yet still some of the best minds in the land are distinctly unimpressed by a growth story that still leaves almost every third Indian short of the 2100 calories needed per day to survive.”

Wikipedia states, that till date, there has been no uniform measure of poverty in India. The Suresh Tendulakar committee put the number of those below the poverty line as constituently 42% of the Indian people. There have come up a lot of other reports; M.C Saxena, a former commissioner of the Supreme Court on the question of poverty reached the conclusion that almost half of the population was in the BPL category, and Arjun Sengupta report states that 77% of Indians live on rs22/day. The planning commission recognizes the above said Tendulakar committee report.

It is difficult to estimate poverty. The question of who are precisely ‘poor’ springs lots of debates, to which economists, nutritionists and public planners tirelessly contribute. These questions and discussions, however, would not make much sense to those people who battle with hunger daily. A poverty-stricken person would hardly connect with the intellectual questions raised, the sophisticated discussions and the cynically contested hypothesis and conclusions.

These debates will probably seem detached from her everyday life where she is struggling to provide for her kids, food, clothing and shelter. The media rarely cover a story or two about the starvation death of the deprived, and when they do, they are followed by the sour denials by the government, the opposition party grabbing the opportunity for their own benefits and attacking the ruling party, some sickening images of skinny skeleton-like children and babies, and before long the matter is forgotten.

Pradyot Lal writes “Even as every third Indian is mired in grinding poverty, experts and institutions are governed by definitional hazards regarding the real poor writers.” India is one of the hungriest countries in the world and the unstable estimation of the poverty-stricken then poses a big problem. Harsh Mander, a former bureaucrat and NAC member says that “Inequality without outrage and resistance has always scarred and shamed our country, but until recently at least the poor were around us, in our films, in poetry and literature, in the promises of election speeches and budget slogans, in newspaper reports and television screens. Today they have become invisible.”

Overpopulation, lack of family planning, corruption, black money, the economy unemployment, and poor education are all to blame for the paucity in India. And to eliminate it, it’s important to know just how much of it exists in India. Because even when India is prospering in various fields, it is meaningless to those less fortunate, however small they are in number, the ones who are starving daily.