What is India’s poverty line?
That is a big political issue in a country which houses maximum number of the world’s poor. There have been experts and their panels – many of them – but still we haven’t been able to define who is poor.
There are truckloads of data in statistical wisdoms and in countless luminary minds – yet we regularly form panels of eminent economist(s) to correct the anomaly in the previous poverty line – only to dismiss it – because the result of burning the midnight oil here is always so absurd that you would dismiss it as soon as you are enlightened with it.
In April 2014, the government unveiled its newest poverty line – Rs. 32 a day in rural areas (Rs. 960 a month) and Rs. 47 a day in urban areas (Rs. 1410 a month). That was, in fact, an improvement over the standards set by the Tendulkar committee – Rs. 27 a day in rural areas (Rs. 810 a month) and Rs. 33 a day in urban areas (Rs. 990 a month).
According to this new poverty line, 29.5% Indians are cursed to live below the poverty line. Now that is around 23 crore Indians.
And that is when this newest Indian poverty line is nowhere to the World Bank benchmark for the poverty threshold – $1.90 – a threshold that the World Bank recalibrated in October 2015 – from the earlier benchmark of $1.25. Now, based on current Dollar to Rupee exchange rate, that comes to around Rs.127 – almost four times of the newest rural poverty line in India and almost three times of the urban one.