SECC AGAIN REAFFIRMS THE HUMAN CHALLENGE

The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) released by the government reaffirms the underlying fact again that, in spite of the political speak, it is a winding road ahead. It is an underlying fact that runs across the strata of the social fabric of the country.

Sample this – of the total 17.91 crore rural households, 5.37 crore have landless owners. They derive their livelihood from ‘manual labour’. So, some 30% of our rural households need immediate attention for a sustained livelihood.

What aggravates the scenario is the prevalent illiteracy in these households.

According to the tables of SECC, 4.21 crore (23.5%) of the households have no literate adults above 25 years, i.e., a male in a stable earning age. And being illiterate means these households are devoid of the most stable earning tool when land is not there, i.e., education.

So, 30% of them, in rural India, they don’t have the primary needs to earn livelihood, i.e., land and education.

The need to support them should be on the primary agenda of any socially-engaging political dispensation – especially in a populous country like India.

The class, that cuts across different states of India, needs genuine support from our policy-makers, going beyond the political rhetoric.

And these two figures are just the beginning.

SECC, that is not final yet, with data from some districts are yet to be uploaded, gives us many worrying indicators that once again reaffirm the scale of human challenge in the world’s largest democracy.

Especially, when we have a legacy of controversy on deciding poverty line – especially when we have, so far, failed to count our poor the way society needs – and not the way economists and statisticians propose.

Especially, when we have rural poverty line of Rs. 972 a month – especially when the Rangarajan Panel report says those earning above Rs. 1407 in urban areas are not poor.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE RANGARAJAN POVERTY LINES, TOO, FAIL INDIANS

I had written on Indian achievement on reducing poverty on July 24, 2013

In a huge, huge achievement, in a trademark Montek Singh Ahluwalia style, packaged and presented in the Manmohan Singh style, yesterday, all of a sudden, we the Indians were told by the economy wizard of the nation that his government had lifted almost 15 per cent of the Indians above the poverty line since 2004-05.

So, the school of Montekonomics, the Planning Commission of India has announced: “The percentage of persons below the Poverty Line in 2011-12 has been estimated as 25.7% in rural areas, 13.7% in urban areas and 21.9% for the country as a whole. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8% and 25.7% and 37.2% for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1% in rural areas, 31.8% in urban areas and 45.3% for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over the seven year period.”

And it is one year to July 24, 2013 – Manmohan Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia are not there to steer the Indian policy to decide on the poverty politics and poverty economics.

But the Rangarajan Committee appointed by the Manmohan Singh government has come out with Poverty Lines that undermine the glory of the moments Manmohan Singh had tried to project on patting his back for making India less poor and more Indians ‘poverty free’ – by assigning them a day of life on Rs. 33 in cities and Rs. 27 in villages – the exercise behind this relative realization of poverty was highly contagious – if it got Manmohan’s goodies, it also attracted public outrage and a huge political controversy like it had been the case a year earlier, in 2012.

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BEING POOR IN INDIA: THE NUMBERS

Related post: BEING POOR IN INDIA: IT IS STATISTICAL AS WELL
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/being-poor-in-india/

The extreme levels of poverty indicators by the United Nations say there are 1.2 billion extreme poor in the world.

The UN study (UN Millennium Development Goals Report 2014) estimated 400 million or 40 crore of it in India.

That is 1/3rd of the Indian population of around 120 crore.

So, the UN says around 40 crore of the Indians are extremely poor – they survive on less than US$ 1.25 a day, i.e., almost Rs. 75 a day (@Rupee to US$ exchange rate of 60).

Now let’s talk on some more numbers – on how India counts its poor and reduces the poverty ‘found’ among its citizens.

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BEING POOR IN INDIA: IT IS STATISTICAL AS WELL

40 crores of Indians are extremely poor – if we go by the estimates and the extreme poverty line of the United Nations.

The only catch is – if we go by the Indian estimates – many of them are not poor and most of them are not ‘as extremely poor as the UN finds’ – as propounded by the by the Indian Government standards – an exercise that began with a Planning Commission working group in 1962, continuing with four other exercises, to come again to the ‘unacceptable’ Poverty Lines (Urban/Rural) of the Rangarajan Committee which submitted its report last month, a report that got public this month – but has failed to come with logical and sociologically viable Poverty Line(s) for a society that has the maximum number of world’s poor (including the ‘extreme’ poor).

If we take the Tendulkar Committee’s Poverty Lines, being used by the Government of India and the Planning Commission so far, before Mr. Rangarajan’s figures were reached at – as expected, at Rs. 75 a day (with US$ to Re. exchange rate of 60), this extreme UN Poverty Line is almost double to the new urban Poverty Line of Rs. 47 as decided by the noted economist C. Rangarajan after almost 2 years of work.

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THE GUJARAT POVERTY DISCOURSE: THE TALES ON ‘AAM AADMI’ IS ‘KHAAS’ FOR THREE MONTHS

‘AAM AADMI’ IS ‘KHAAS’ FOR THREE MONTHS*
Pre-election sops:
The mad rush has already begun with the poll bonanza entering its final leg – It would be interesting to watch the scramble, to lure the ‘Aam Aadmi’ in the narrow spectrum of time available before the Lok Sabha polls are announced – to woo the voters

Such is the mad rush, as shown to us by the poverty discourse once again, Gujarat and Modi being in the centre this time.

In spite of all the claims, Gujarat is in India and cannot be free of the typical Indian problems of the day – corruption, social discrimination, poverty and so on.

Yes, the scale varies and Gujarat can claim having lesser degrees of these evils and Narendra Modi can rightly claim his governance being a reason behind somewhat improved levels. But it will be daydreaming to claim that peace and prosperity have become synonymous with Gujarat. That cannot be, not even in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, in the prevailing social and political circumstances of India.

So, even in Modi’s Gujarat, there are always the chances of slipping, getting flipped on the side, to the weaker domain, to give your adversaries the needed arsenal to lash you as severely as possible.

And when it is the high-time of the Lok Sabha elections, every such attack gets magnified multifold. And so is the counter-response that is more in the form of counter-attack.

So, this time, it is about the poverty discourse that has come to the surface after a December 2013 circular by the Gujarat government on its website made its way to the newsrooms. The circular is for the Antyodaya Anna Yojna that provides subsidized foodgrain to the BPL (Below the Poverty Line) families. The circular caps The Poverty Line for the eligible families at Rs. 10.8 a day, much below the Planning Commission’s Poverty Lines of Rs. 32 a day for urban areas and Rs. 28 a day for rural areas.

As it had to happen, in the election time, it was a big issue, for Congress, and for the other parties opposing the BJP, and thus, for the BJP.

And in the election time haste, the Congress strategists went full throttle to take advantage of it, ignoring or suppressing the fact that this Rs. 10.8 a day cap was decided by the Planning Commission in 2004 and not by the state government.

Who cares for the finer details when the issue on surface and its proximity to the target make for the headlines?

And therefore, the mad rush was there and was fully blown, until the finer details emerged.

Congress and other anti-BJP parties immediately ratcheted up the debate by targeting BJP and Modi of insulting the poor while reminding the nation how the BJP and Modi made an issue of the Planning Commission’s Poverty Line figures.

Modi government and the BJP immediately came up with the rebuttal trying to put the Congress in dock by making Planning Commission’s guidelines a front of their defense.

Rounds of defense and attack continued as long as the newsrooms saw ‘rating returns’.

It didn’t matter if the ‘Aam Aadmi’ was interested in tasting this ‘old wine in a repackaged old bottle’ or not as long as the issue presented the political parties a prospect to lure the ‘Aam Aadmi’ votes without doing much.

*https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/aam-aadmi-is-khaas-for-three-months/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

WHO OWNS POVERTY IN INDIA?

Is it the hundreds of millions of people hovering around the ambiguous line, otherwise ‘termed’ the ‘poverty-line’, a line that is as controversial as the second tenure of Manmohan Singh as India’s prime minister?

Or is it the politicians who, in collaboration, with bureaucrats and number-crunchers, define who should be poor and who should not be poor and who should not be ‘so poor’, obviously, more on the paper?

Or is it the Indian democracy that has come to evolve as an exploitative System where the millions of the poor, who are as important in the eyes of its Constitution, the world’s most extensively written Constitution, as the elite politicians hibernating in the plush environs funded by the pubic money, but have been pushed to the extremes of the periphery where they are not seen even as the entities to be co-opted to mitigate the chances of emerging threats?

Or is it the multitude of the hundreds of millions of ‘poverty-line’ stricken Indians who seem to have forgotten or seem to have never known what should be the ‘quality’ of their ‘quality of life’?

Or is it the multitude of the hundreds of millions of ‘poverty-line’ stricken Indians who have come to reconcile with the developments making them subservient to the political class?

Over 1200 millions of Indians that make India the world’s largest democracy – more or less, it is a functional democracy it is said!

But this functional democracy is yet to find how to count its poor. There are many ways. There are definitions. There are methodologies. And there is confusion. Huge sums are spent on finding how to define the ‘poverty-line’ yet the controversy remains. The Rs. 30 a month ‘poverty-line’, the average of all the expertise involved. Why?

Because, the poor here are not seen as human beings by the prevailing political thought process. They are yet another votebank, a significantly large votebank that cuts across the layers of religion, regionalism and caste.

This significantly large votebank has the tendency to act most impulsively of all the votebanks. Impoverished they have been, impoverished they are, and it can be understood. They don’t know what to expect from life than to survive every coming day. They are not expected to expect from life.

Poor, they are, but they do not own their poverty. They would do all to get rid of it provided they are given the help they need to do so.

But that help is not extended to them by those who own their poverty.

Those, who run the System, the politicians, the policymakers, the elite, the business people, and the likes of them, they own their poverty.

Instead, they are given occasional shots of calculated empowerment, empowerments that gives them borrowed moments of hunger-free and relatively easier days when elections approach. A food security bill is announced in 2009 but is put in motion in 2013 when elections are due in 2014. Farm debt waiver was announced in 2008 when elections were due in 2009.

The borrowed moments of hunger-free and relatively easier days push the voters from this votebank to react impulsively to cast their votes in favour of the political outfit doling out the ‘largesse’, something that should rightfully be their fundamental right.

Those, who run the System, their interest is in keeping this votebank poor.

Once out of poverty, the prospect to get the votebank react impulsively gets a certain negative hit. Why to take this risk?

They, who run the System, own the poverty in India and they don’t look in the mood to bequeath it.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MANMOHANOMICS & MONTEKONOMICS: DO YOU KNOW FOLKS, MILLIONS OF US JUST GOT RICHER?

In a huge, huge achievement, in a trademark Montek Singh Ahluwalia style, packaged and presented in the Manmohan Singh style, yesterday, all of a sudden, we the Indians were told by the economy wizard of the nation that his government had lifted almost 15 per cent of the Indians above the poverty line since 2004-05.

Maybe, we, the Indians, could not assess it given our choked mental faculties that keep working 24/7 to ensure how to handle the daily and monthly expenses with regular price rises, of almost everything of use, from routine items, to the means of absolute necessity.

And like Manmohan Singh has always been very comfortable with the manipulative duplicity of statistics, this time too was no different. Only a week ago, the economist in Manmohan Singh had proclaimed: “The percentage of population below the poverty line declined at 0.75 percentage points per year before our government came to office in 2004-05. It has fallen more than 2 percentage points per year between 2004-05 and 2011-12” – and so be it. Isn’t it?

After all, one of our principal lords says it. After all, he represents the luminous class of the politicians with a parasitic lifestyle enjoying luxuries of life on taxpayers’ money while regularly lecturing the taxpayers to practice austerity.

It is indeed largesse on their part when they give us the lowest possible figure (statistics dear!) for ‘our’ Poverty Lines. It is, in some way, a sort of mechanism to take millions of Indians away from the clutches of the ‘defined’ poverty limits.

And so, the Montekonomics version of Manmohan’s proclamation is now out.

It is like – see, you are not poor because we say that you are not in the poverty line list. So, celebrate your day with Rs. 33 a day if you are an urban Indian and Rs. 27 if you are from some rural neighbourhood.

A mouth organ sort of tool of our lords, the Planning Commission of India, headed by the Economy Nobel defying wisdom, that we also know as Motekonomics, of Manmohan Singh’s learned deputy Monetk Singh Ahluwalia, has come up with the miraculous statistical manipulation, yet again, to lessen the miseries of ‘we, the Indians’ – by telling us to believe that hundreds of millions of us have become richer by overnight.

Overnight, because, the intended millions did not know or could not realize their windfall gain (the gain, thanks to the committed acts of Manmohanomics). Probably they would realize it now.

So, the school of Montekonomics, the Planning Commission of India has announced: “The percentage of persons below the Poverty Line in 2011-12 has been estimated as 25.7% in rural areas, 13.7% in urban areas and 21.9% for the country as a whole. The respective ratios for the rural and urban areas were 41.8% and 25.7% and 37.2% for the country as a whole in 2004-05. It was 50.1% in rural areas, 31.8% in urban areas and 45.3% for the country as a whole in 1993-94. In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line as compared to 407 million in 2004-05, that is a reduction of 137 million persons over the seven year period.”

And see, how the Montekonomics under the aegis of Manmohanomics has achieved it.

The Planning Commission has calculated, based on the method it uses (the controversial Tendulkar Method), the state-specific and all India urban and rural Poverty Lines for 2011-12.

It is Rs. 816 per month (Rs. 27.20 per day) for rural India and Rs. 1000 per month (Rs. 33.30 per day) for urban India while the same was Rs. 356.30 (Rs. 11.86 per day) for rural India and Rs. 538.60 (Rs. 17.95 per day) for urban India in 2004-05.

Now hundreds of millions of us complain that surviving a day on Rs.33/Rs. 27 a day (Rs. 18/Rs. 12 in 2004-05) is not possible and such ridiculous estimations must be changed. Pity us when we demand so. After all, what else can give us such a comfortable psychological cushion to forget the chronic problems we are in – the poor citizens of a rich country?

And we repeatedly fail to learn the lesson.

Last year too, the country had seen a huge uproar when the Montekonomics had come up with the previous Poverty Lines (Rs. 32 for urban India and Rs. 26 for rural India). Our lords led by Manmohanomics and Montekonomics were so pained that they had to form a committee (like many others in the past) to look into the methodology to calculate the new Poverty Lines. Its head, C. Rangarajan, say it will take one more year to come up with the reworked Poverty Lines.

One more year! How could our caring politicians leave us in peril by denying us the psychological cushion that could tell us to ‘believe’ that we were not poor ‘as we were not on the Poverty Line lists’?

So, they decided to take the pain again. They are so committed to the millions of the poor that they would be ready to face the brunt of the ‘uncalled for’ criticism yet again.

And so, yesterday, we had the Pathbreaking development when millions of us were lifted out of poverty; when Manmohan’s and Montek’s Planning Commission of India came up with the ‘miraculous’ and ‘new’ rural and urban Poverty Lines of Rs. 27 and Rs. 33 a day.

Now that they have told us, what all we need to do is to believe them, as we have been doing in the past ‘by telling us that we are not poor because we do not figure on Poverty Line lists. They have given us back our psychological cushion to fight the poverty.

See, it is so simple. Isn’t it?

See, so caring they are. Aren’t they?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/