If the Planning Commission is to be believed, the next eight years may be all it would take for India to achieve something it could not manage in 64 years since Independence. According to the country’s top advisory body, the country would be able to eliminate poverty by 2020.
The commission made this submission before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, leaving it aghast. “The committee is at a loss to understand as to how the target for poverty elimination can be achieved on a recomputed higher estimate,” the committee, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha, said.
The plan panel had set the target for poverty elimination at 2020 or the end of 13th Five Year Plan (2021-22), based on estimates of the Lakdawala Committee.
As per its 2004-05 data, the Lakdawala Committee had pegged the estimate of poor Indians at 27.5%. However, the planning commission later adopted the Suresh Tendulkar methodology, which estimated that 37.5% of Indians were poor as per 2004-05 consumer expenditure data.
As per the 2009-10 data, the panel had estimated that poverty has come down to 29.8%, a dip of 7.4%. The figure raised an adverse reaction, with many stating that the poverty line was unrealistic. Eventually, the government constituted another expert group for estimating poverty.
It was in the midst of this controversy that the Planning Commission pegged 2020 as the target year for elimination of poverty.
Expressing its “surprise”, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance asked the commission to make more rigorous efforts to ensure that the target was met.
Other concerns raised by standing committee:
Govt told to address UIDAI Bill concerns
The Parliamentary Standing Committee has expressed anguish over how the government was continuing with the UID or Aadhaar number scheme without legislative approval. Recalling its recommendations on the unacceptability of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Bill, the committee urged the central government to address the issues raised by it immediately.
‘Plan Panel hardly serious in approach’
The Parliamentary Standing Committee observed that the Planning Commission was not “serious in its approach” for evaluating its performance and redefining its role to make it more relevant and effective.
It has asked the central government to appoint an expert group to evaluate the performance of the Planning Commission and redefine its role at the earliest.