Mooting for ‘Tendulkar poverty line’, which bracketed people earning less than Rs 33 a day as poor, a NITI Aayog panel has said the line is not the basis for identification of the poor, but to track progress in battling poverty.
In its report ‘Eliminating Poverty: Creating Jobs and Strengthening Social Programmes’, put up in the public domain, the Aayog’s task force on poverty eradication has made a number of suggestions such as creation of Coastal Economic Zones for sustained rapid growth with job creation and to make anti-poverty programmes more effective.
The report said the main criticism of the Tendulkar line has been that it is too low. However, it cautioned that if the poverty line is set at too high a level, the focus on households in abject poverty could be diluted. “Therefore, the final decision on this question needs to be informed by further deliberations that pay adequate attention to the fact that the objective behind an official poverty line is to track progress in combating extreme poverty and not identification of the poor for purposes of distribution of government benefits,” it said.
Currently, identification of poor is done by the state governments based on information from below poverty line (BPL) censuses, of which the latest is the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011).
Using the poverty line recommended by the Tendulkar Committee for 2004-05 and updating it to 2011-12, the monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) of Rs 816 in rural areas and Rs 1,000 in urban areas were the estimated poverty lines for 2011-12. About 27 crore people were living below poverty line in the country, according to Tendulkar formulation in 2011-12.
As controversy mounted on poverty line, another panel headed by C Rangarajan had raised the Tendulkar national rural poverty line from Rs 816 per-capita per month at 2011-12 prices to Rs 972 and the Tendulkar national urban poverty line from Rs 1,000 per capita per month at 2011-12 prices to Rs 1,407. These revisions led to the total national poverty estimate in 2011-12 rise from 21.9% under the Tendulkar line to 29.5%.