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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

The new 'urban poor': people who own laptop, fridge

Moushumi Das Gupta , Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 17, 2013
First Published: 23:40 IST(17/7/2013) | Last Updated: 09:10 IST(18/7/2013)

If you own a laptop, refrigerator, washing machine, two-wheeler and a landline phone you could still make it to the list of 'urban poor'. And, what's more, avail government schemes of subsidised housing and foodgrain.

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The dilution, sources said, came in wake of the recent food security law that aims to guarantee highly subsidised foodgrain for 50% of the urban poor.

The earlier stringent parameters would have left many out of the scheme. "We will go to the Cabinet shortly to seek approval for the changed parameters," said a ministry official.

The housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry — which has almost completed a nation-wide survey to identify the urban poor as part of the socio-economic caste census — has decided to do away with its earlier criteria to automatically exclude households which possess these assets from the list of urban poor.

According to the methodology, recommended by a committee constituted by the Planning Commission, that the ministry followed, one of the indicators to identify the urban poor was to automatically exclude a family if it had either a four-room house or possessed any one of these assets — four-wheeler, air conditioner and computer/laptop with internet.

Anyone having any three of the following assets, refrigerator, landline phone, washing machine and a two-wheeler, was also automatically disqualified.

The ministry has now decided to drop computer/laptop, fridge, phone, washing machine and two-wheeler from the list, as it felt that these assets were now considered more a necessity and the operational cost of running them wasn't much either.

"Also, the data captured by us is based on a household's acquisition and not their purchasing power. Merely having an asset does not indicate one's economic power. States like Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have doled out free laptops to woo voters," said an official.


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