Differences within the government on India’s poverty estimates persist, even though the Tendulkar Committee’s figures were in principle agreed upon for a revised food security law. The lack of a consensus could affect UPA government’s key welfare schemes.
The Planning Commission had constituted an expert group under Professor Suresh Tendulkar to review the methodology for estimation of poverty. The committee has accepted the urban poverty ratio at 25.7 per cent and rural poverty ratio at 41.8 per cent.
But the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) Ministry has now disputed the share of urban poor in the country as calculated by the panel, which it says has based its estimates on the urban poverty line data for 1973-74. The data, the ministry says, has become obsolete.
According to the ministry, without a proper definition of urban poverty line, it would be difficult to devise a meaningful methodology to identify the urban poor in India.
Urban poverty alleviation minister, Kumari Selja has asked the Planning Commission to consider redrawing the urban poverty line. “The urban poverty line is based on real data for 1973-74 which is based on the expert group report of 1979. There is a need to reconsider it...,” said Selja.
It has asked the Commission to “suitably amend” the terms of reference of the expert group under Prof. Tendulkar so as to cover the whole gamut of defining the urban poverty line as well as identification of urban poor.