SO WHAT IF RURAL EXODUS IS ADDING TO URBAN POVERTY

According to the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects, released by the Population Division of the Department of Social and Economic Affairs of the United Nations, India is going to add 404 million of people to its urban population by 2050, ahead of the projected additions by China (292 million) and Nigeria (212 million).

That is expected to add to the poverty problem of India, slowing down the rate of poverty reduction in urban areas of the country. The Global Food Policy report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in March said that the trend is bound to bring more poverty to urban agglomerations.

But it is a double-edge sword.

Why are people migrating to cities or urban agglomerations?

Because they are not able to find a sustainable livelihood back home, if they can call the place they come from as home.

The primary reason to move to cities is the additional source of income by finding jobs in the booming infrastructure sector in India. And small jobs that these big urban agglomerations support. Even if they will pay a heavy price. They will have to live on streets, in slums, with no quality of life. Education, health, shelter and amenities like piped water, electricity and roads will remain out of bounds for them. But they will, at least, be able to feed themselves and their families, that was not possible back there in their villages. Even if malnutrition becomes an urban problem with this rural exodus, it is, at least, saving lives.

They were poor back there, in villages. And they will remain poor even if they migrate to cities.

Because the sole aim of such migration is survival and not uplifting the scale of life.

So, if we see from a sociological perspective, it is a fruitful migration, as long as we keep on failing our agriculture that still supports some 45 crore Indians, if we go by an NSSO report which estimates the number of agricultural households in India at 9 crore. It is an established practice that for statistical calculations, we take the average size of an Indian family of five members. The number goes even further if we count the population dependent indirectly on agriculture.

Because the farming distress is very real. It, in fact, has been there for decades. Since 2001, over 2.30 lakh farmers have committed suicide, i.e., 2 farmers per hour, and these are as per the officials records of the government of India (NCRB figures). It is that during the years of crisis, i.e., drought and overproduction years, the problem becomes so intense that it starts spilling over on our conscience.

And it is always a chain reaction, an eco-system built on all of its constituents with faming at the core, be it rural markets, daily wage earners, transportation workers or even service professionals like lawyers and doctors, farming sustains the flow of money in the local eco-system by regulating the purse strings of majority of its stakeholders.

India has to grow and fine tune its process with this reality. It has to find solutions within the existing framework of its problems because it cannot generate millions of jobs, even in coming years, to support and sustain the chunk of population dependent on agriculture.

©SantoshChaubey

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WHAT IS COMMON IN RAHUL GANDHI AND BEN CARSON? THEY BOTH THINK POVERTY IS A STATE OF MIND!

WHO IS BEN CARSON..

Ben Carson is US President Donald Trump’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary. He was one of the principal Republican Party Presidential nominees in the last year’s presidential election, before he lost the race to Donald Trump. And he has one thing in common with Rahul Gandhi.

They both think ‘poverty is a state of mind’.

Ben Carson, who is a globally renowned neurosurgeon, said during an interview yesterday that “a certain mindset contributes to people living in poverty, pointing to habits and a state of mind that children take from their parents at a young age”, a Washington Post report wrote.

RAHUL GANDHI REDUX

On August 5, 2013, while speaking at an event in Allahabad, Rahul Gandhi, too, had said that ‘poverty was a state of mind’. Rahul Gandhi had said that self-confidence could help people overcome poverty as it was ‘just a state of mind’ and not what it was normally associated with it, i.e., scarcity of life sustaining means, primarily food, money and material possessions.

So, they both moot the same point about the most nagging issue of our times – poverty – even if their comments have a separation of four years and 12,000 Kms, the distance between New Delhi and Washington DC.

THOUGH, THEIR BACKGROUNDS ARE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.

Rahul Gandhi was widely panned for making an ignorant comment in a country where majority are still living below the poverty line if we go by the new Global Poverty Line by the World Bank at $1.90 a day (Rs 123 a day as per the current US Dollar to Rupee exchange rate). His comments were termed mockery of the poor by many who said Rahul Gandhi came from a well-to-do family, who ruled India for most of its independent history, and could never understand what poverty really means.

In contrast, Ben Carson has grown up in extreme poverty, in a slum neighbourhood of Detroit. But his life journey, that was shown as a biopic, the critically acclaimed ‘Gifted Hands’, the screen adaptation of his autobiography of the same name starring Cuba Gooding Jr., is described as a rare phenomenon when his story is juxtaposed with his poor neighbourhood where he grew up, which has seen consistent deterioration in its living and therefore social standards.

And it is not just self-confidence alone that can lift billions in the world living in poverty and extreme poverty. A coordinated state action is needed everywhere and that is why poverty alleviation and eradication has been at the core of politics in every society. In India, elections revolve around it. Even Ben Carson, who strongly advocates ‘avoiding dependence on state welfare measures’, could make his life and career because there was state welfare assistance to help him. And so he has been criticised for making such narrow vision comments. The Washington Post quoted from his autobiography in an October 2015 article, “In his autobiography, Carson has praised the help he received from public school teachers, a federal jobs program, community mentors, government-supplied eyeglasses and, crucially, food stamps, without which his family “couldn’t have made it”.

According to the new World Bank Global Poverty Line of $1.90, the world had 700 million poor people by the end of 2015. But in order to arrive at a common benchmark globally, the World Bank Poverty Line has not taken into account many dimensions of poverty that hit lives of the poorest, especially in developing and poor countries. In many such countries, the poverty lines are well below this global benchmark, a fact that effectively pushes the number of poor people to billions across the world. According to a Brookings Institution report, around 3 billion people were living at $3 a day in 2013. In 2015, a Pew Research Centre report concluded that majority of the world’s population was living at the $3 a day. Finding of the same report said that 71 per cent of the world’s population was surviving on less than $10 a day, i.e., Rs 645.50 a day or Rs 19365 a month.

We don’t need to go far to see tentacles of poverty. India has 363 million people living below the latest national poverty line suggested by the Rangarajan Committee in 2014 – Rs 32 a day in rural India and Rs 47 a day in urban India. Contrast it to the Global Poverty Line of Rs 123 a day, four times of India’s rural poverty line and three times of its urban poverty line and we are staring at a much higher number than 363 million of defined poor in our country. At the prevailing market prices, one cannot even have modest lunch and dinner for a day for that amount of money. And life is not just about eating. One needs a shelter somewhere. One needs clothes. One needs healthcare. One needs education.

Self-confidence alone cannot help billions of poor to come out of this trap. Framers of our constitution, and in fact, the policymakers around the world, do realize it. That’s why we have our affirmative action or reservation system or the US has its social security network or Medicaid, its state governed health insurance safety net. In fact, most of the societies around the world, have some sort of social security net.

©SantoshChaubey

MERCEDES POLITICIANS FOR BICYCLE PEOPLE

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.

To continue..

©SantoshChaubey

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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