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

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The Poverty of Politics

This is with reference to the editorial “Limits of the SECC Data” (EPW, 18 July 2015). Within India’s political parties and their committed academic circuits, there is a thriving industry that routinely churns out poverty estimates. Such estimates were used by policymakers as a factor in the transfer of resources to states under the Gadgil formula. The centre tends to underplay poverty, while states and opposition political parties keep the numbers high. This discontentment has often sparked the debate on poverty.

The Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 was undertaken to allow states to use data to define their own parameters to identify a poor person or household. The central government has released the survey report without saying anything as to how the data would be used by states. Now, a pertinent question arises: who will determine the poverty line? Until now, the Planning Commission determined the poverty line based on National Sample Survey Office data. Will this practice be stopped as the NITI Aayog has replaced the Planning Commission?

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