Throw light on issues related to poverty measurement in India. Suggest measures to improve on the existing methodologies.

Poverty in a general sense refers to the absence of lack of basic resources like food, clothing, and shelter to live a decent life. Poverty can be classified into absolute poverty and relative poverty. Further, it can be also Classified on the basis of social, economic, political, and psychological poverty.

Poverty measurement in India:

  • Various committees have been formed since Independence to suggest criteria for poverty measurement.
    • Dandekar and rath committee – calorie consumption
    • Tendulkar committee – the nutritional requirement
    • Rangarajan committee – nutritional requirement plus other basic necessities like health, insurance, etc.
  • Presently poverty in India is measured as below the poverty line which is Rs. 27 per day for rural India and Rs. 33 per day for urban India.

Issues with poverty measurement:

  • Poverty line criteria are redundant, given the present inflation and it is hardly revised.
  • Only measures absolute poverty, and gives no credence to social and political poverty which comes along.
  • Various schemes which use BPL criteria often exclude a vast population that is above but very close to BPL.
  • Does not take into account regional variations pertaining to purchasing power.

Measures to improve:

  • Instead of the poverty line, various other criteria available in the recently concluded SECC (Social-economic & caste census), 2011 can be taken up for consideration.
  • According to Amartya Sen, welfare economics and capacity building approach can be taken into account.
  • World Bank’s 2008 poverty line – $ 1.25 per day or Human Development Index can be taken into account.

The Economic Survey of 2020-21 had suggested that India is a peculiar case where economic growth brings more people out of poverty in comparison to redistributive policies of a welfare state.


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