Imagine a poverty line
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No matter where you draw the line, the fall in poverty is greater in high GDP growth years
Some plain facts and some ugly truths. The plain fact is that poverty in India has declined at a rapid pace during the UPA years post 2004. An ugly truth. When the Planning Commission released the estimates of poverty in India, on the basis of the household survey conducted by the NSS in 2009-10, the findings were met by the most illiterate response on the part of the politicians, media, and glitterati. Poverty figures have been published by all governments — Congress, Third Front, NDA and UPA — on a regular basis for the last 20 odd years. The poverty line has increased in real terms over this period. So why the incredibly outrageous reaction?
Because all of us have learnt, often with sadness, that you can throw anything, and I mean anything, at the UPA and it will stick. And the thrower of the mud will be a hero on TV, and will lead groupies on Twitter. An overnight rock star, and for doing nothing — indeed, for doing something incredibly stupid. As for example claiming that all natural resources should be auctioned. Or that coal permits, given without auction, have a corruption stream exceeding Rs 10.6 lakh crore when the real figure is about Rs 0.6 lakh crore. Or that the government has reduced the poverty line in order to show that there are less poor in the country than conventionally thought.
There is an additional reason for the sticking filthy mud. It is because the UPA is a party divided, with several of its leading members articulating the same mud. It was Sonia Gandhi's own NAC staff who first opined that the Rs 32 per capita per day poverty line was too little. This line contains a third of the population, and several with-it glitterati calculated that this would not get you a 2 km taxi ride, so how could one survive? With such a low poverty line, starvation was obviously just around the corner.
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