ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Poverty Statistics

Poverty alleviation cannot work unless we know who are the poor. The Planning Commission must undertake a review of the methodology of poverty estimation. The definition used at present has conceptual problems and poverty is consequently underestimated. ">

It is widely agreed that ‘poverty’ in India declined considerably during the decades of the 1970s and the 1980s. The disagreement centres around the 1990s, for which the annual NSS consumer expenditure surveys (available till the year 1998) indicate a rising trend in poverty ratios. However, the government claims that poverty declined from 56.9 per cent in 1973-74 to 37.2 per cent in 1993-94 in rural India, and from 49 per cent to 32.4 per cent in urban India. This claim has been accepted unquestioningly by the World Bank experts as well as individual researchers. A recent World Bank study on policies to reduce poverty in India, acclaims the fact that poverty, during the last two decades, has declined at the rate of 2 per cent per annum [World Bank 2000].

We would like to point out that, given the definition of ‘poverty line’, the Planning Commission’s poverty estimates are non-comparable over long periods. Any conclusions drawn from such long-term comparisons are, therefore, inadmissible.

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