Gujarat”s Poverty Line ‘Tamasha’ And Its Futility

Posted on February 11, 2014 in Society

By Mayank Jain:

Do you manage to earn ₹17 a day and live in a city in Gujarat? Congratulations, you are not poor as per Gujarat’s food and civil supplies department. The strange figure of ₹10.80 for rural areas and ₹16.80 for urban areas, have been determined as the upper limit for BPL consideration of people.

gujaratThis comes as a striking revelation when Narendra Modi roared the loudest against the Planning Commission figure for BPL families set at ₹26 in his rally. The hypocrisy has been exposed and there is nowhere to hide for BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Gujarat’s government probably factored in Modi’s promises of bringing down inflation when it decided such ridiculous figures as the poverty line threshold. A bar of chocolate costs more than that today and considering anybody who can afford a KitKat to be rich is not the least bit developmental of our development loving PM candidate.

Though we should not make a major issue out of poverty lines as the real focus of each government and candidate should be to increase general incomes; but this is an example of appearing rich by lowering the poverty line and Gujarat has to be given due credit for its innovation.

While poverty lines do help in benchmarking and proper planning but the differences in accounting, creep in due to different standards followed by the central government. And state governments only translate into mudslinging oratory and delays for the beneficiary.

The chaos hasn’t stopped. There have been multiple statements and clarifications deftly aimed at the opposition coming from the both sides which only spells confusion for the policy makers and people at large.

A government’s agenda should go beyond fixing the poverty line or debating over it and rather focus on the process of wiping out poverty. The poverty line can be set as high as possible to make sure the benefits reach to maximum number of people but without proper focus on the planning and implementation of these schemes, the poverty benchmark is just another number. But, so is 272.