Published On:23 March 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

India accused of poverty ‘smokescreen’, Muslims poorest religious minority

New Delhi: India has been accused of creating a “smokescreen” to conceal the true scale of poverty in the country after the government claimed to have lifted more than 50 million people above the threshold in the last five years.

Analysts and opposition leaders said the government had created an artificially low poverty benchmark, which some denounced as a “starvation line”, to shrink the official number of poor, the Telegraph reported.

The issue is politically sensitive in India where those officially deemed to be living below the poverty line are entitled to more government benefits and food subsidies.

The survey deemed as poor those living on or below Rs 22 per day in rural areas and Rs 28 per day in towns and cities. It calculated the total number living in poverty in India at 354 million, which was 53 million fewer than in 2005. The urban poverty line wage is just under the cost of a litre of milk – Rs 37.

The figures appeared to show that India’s rapid rise to become the world’s second fastest growing economy after China in this period had resulted in a trickling down of wealth to millions of the world’s poorest people.

This period had seen “rural poverty declining by 8.0 percentage points from 41.8 percent to 33.8 percent and urban poverty declining by 4.8 percentage points from 25.7 percent to 20.9 percent,” the government’s Planning Commission said in its report.

But their findings were fiercely criticised by political leaders and analysts who said it had used unacceptably low income levels as the benchmark to hide the real scale of poverty in the country.
Mohan Guruswamy of the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Alternatives think tank said the government’s benchmark is based on the numbers earning the amount of money it costs to eat 2000 calories of food per day. Its figure of between 28 and 35 pence per day is around a quarter of the poverty level income of 100 Rupees or £1.25 per day set by the United Nations Development Programme.

“Twenty eight rupees per day is the starvation line. We must have a comprehensive poverty line for basic human needs like access to education, drinking water, electricity and medical care.
“Seventy percent of Indians earn less than Rs 100 per day and that makes the government look bad. So these figures are a smokescreen to make them look good. The whole elite is in denial that there is a problem in society and think India is shining,” he said.

A statement released by India’s CPI (M) Communist Party accused the government of “fraud” and called for an assurance that its benchmark figures would not be used to cut the numbers entitled to welfare benefits. “This shows the huge gap between the members of the Planning Commission and the reality lived by crores of people in this country who have been burdened by relentless price rises amidst meagre incomes. It hardly needs to be stated that these are destitution lines and it is a shame that an institution chaired by the Prime Minister should produce such absurd figures,” it said.

The report highlighted an uneven pattern in India’s growth story with some states making significant advances in poverty reduction and others slipping behind. In Goa, the tourism destination and mining centre on the Arabian Sea, the percentage below the poverty line shrunk from 25 per cent in 2005 to 8.7 percent in 2010-2011, but in Bihar, one of India’s most backward states, the number of poor people increased by five million to 54.3 million. According to the Planning Commission findings, Muslims are India’s poorest religious minority, while India’s Christian minority has the lowest percentage of poor people.

Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen said there had been no change in the relative poverty of caste and religious groups. “The relative ranking across castes or religion has not really changed. Those who used to be poorest are still the poorest. But it is also the case that poverty has declined for all of them,” he said.

(Courtesy: Pakistan Today)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on March 23, 2012. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on March 23, 2012. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

1 comments for "India accused of poverty ‘smokescreen’, Muslims poorest religious minority"

  1. lol ... courtesy Pakistan today ... enough said

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