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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

I fail to understand Planning Commission's criteria for fixing poverty line: Digvijaya Singh

Tania Goklany, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 27, 2013
First Published: 12:55 IST(27/7/2013) | Last Updated: 17:02 IST(27/7/2013)

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh questioned Planning Commission's method of fixing the poverty line on Saturday morning after controversy erupted this week on how government calculates poverty data.


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He tweeted, "I have always failed to understand the Planning Commission criteria for fixing Poverty Line . It is too abstract can't be same for all areas."

Read more: Digvijaya Singh criticises plan panel's poverty criteria

His comments came a day after Union minister Kapil Sibal said a family of five could not live on Rs. 5,000 a month.

"If the Planning Commission said those who live above Rs. 5,000 a month are not on the poverty line, obviously there is something wrong with the definition of poverty in this country. How can anybody live at Rs. 5,000?" Sibal slammed Planning Commission's method of calculating poverty.

Read more: Something wrong with definition of poverty, says Sibal

Congress MP and spokesperson Raj Babbar said earlier a full meal would cost Rs. 12 in Mumbai, followed soon by fellow MP Rasheed Masood who said it's Rs. 5 in Delhi.

While both the leaders withdrew their remarks and apologised after media reports termed them as outrageous, Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken went on the offensive, "BJP criticizing Rs. 33.30 Poverty Line should explain why it was Rs. 16.73 in 59th NSSO survey of 2003 and accepted by BJP/NDA Govt?"

Union minister Farooq Abdullah's comment that people can fill their stomach by spending even Re 1, had also stirred the ongoing controversy.

"The question is that you can fill you stomach by spending Re 1 and cannot fill it even with Rs. 100. The question is what you want to eat. We want the country to progress. These things are necessary to take a country forward," Abdullah had said.

However, after his comments caused a furore, he clarified saying that his comments had been taken out of context.

The Planning Commission estimates that the number of poor in the country has gone down from nearly 37% of the population in 2004-05-the year the ruling UPA came to power - to 21.9% in 2011-12. In other words, an additional 137 million people in India now earn more than the threshold Rs. 27.2 a day in rural areas and Rs. 33.3 in cities.

Is that income enough to buy full two meals in a city? Our readers don't believe so. In an online poll we did, 58% believed that they would need above Rs. 100 to buy two full meals.

As many as 40% believed they would need between Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 for two meals. Just 2% believed they would need under Rs. 50. (The poll was unscientific and 1,820 readers had taken part in it till 8 am, (July 26, Friday).

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/7/buy_two_full_graph.gif

Such a definition came under sharp criticism from the Opposition which alleged that the government was keen to "dress up" the poverty figure in an election year.


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