Three National Advisory Council members --- Aruna Roy, Harsh Mander and Jean Dreze --- on Monday protested at the Planning Commission against the plan panel’s poverty estimation methodology which categorises 37 % of Indians as poor.
Carrying boxes demonstrating what one can buy for Rs 20 --- the plan panel’s poverty estimation figure --- in a day, the protestors demanded scrapping of the Suresh Tendulkar committee’s methodology and sought providing subsidized food grains to all. One box had a bus ticket and 500 grams of rice and another had an onion plus a few vegetables.
Dreze sent a chart to HT saying that even basic requirements for a person for a day are not covered in Rs 32, excluding expenditure for tea, bidis, newspaper and clothes. And, for Rs 32, the person gets energy worth 1,800 calories even though the plan panel has prescribed minimum of 2,400 calories for one to sustain oneself.
“It means no saving,” Dreze said, a view echoed by both Mander and Roy.
The Planning Commission has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that only those who spend less than Rs 20 in urban areas and Rs 15 in rural areas, as per Suresh Tendulkar committee. Its analysis showed that at the current prices those below poverty line may not be affording single meal in a day.
The protest took place a day before Sonia Gandhi headed NAC meets to discuss several issues including the National Food Security Law, which aims to provide cover of subsidized food cover to about 75 % of Indians.
The Food ministry, which will pilot the bill, has agreed to most of the NAC recommendations and is expected to submit its views to the council soon.