But pace of poverty eradication quicker in the three years to 2011-12
A new panel has found that 29.5 per cent of India's population was poor in 2011-12 against just 21.9 per cent estimated under the previous methodology which had drawn sharp criticism from various quarters. In absolute terms, 363 million people were below the poverty line that year, higher by about 93 million over 269.8 million estimated earlier.
However, the poverty rate - the number of poor as a proportion of the population - came down swifter in the new estimates prepared by the panel headed by former Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council chairman C Rangarajan than calculated earlier on the Suresh Tendulkar methodology.
The Rangarajan panel recently submitted its report to the government.
A greater number of people were classified under poverty in 2011-12 as the Rangarajan committee raised the poverty line compared to that fixed earlier, officials said. The Rangarajan panel says anyone spending up to Rs 47 a day in urban areas and Rs 32 in villages would be considered poor as of 2011-12. The Suresh Tendulkar methodology had pegged these levels at Rs 33 in urban areas and Rs 27 in villages. By either method, poverty was reduced during 2009-10 to 2011-12 (the first three years of the second UPA government).
For 2009-10, the Suresh Tendulkar methodology had pegged the poverty line at Rs 22 in villages and Rs 29 in urban areas. These were raised to Rs 27 and Rs 40, respectively, by the Rangarajan committee.
As many as 91.6 million people were lifted out of poverty, according to the Rangarajan panel report, during the period as there were 454.6 million poor in 2009-10. The estimation based on the Suresh Tendulkar methodology had earlier shown that 84.9 million people came out of poverty since the number of poor stood at 354.7 million in 2009-10. The poverty rate fell by 8.7 percentage points in this period under the Rangarajan formula against a 7.9 percentage point fall under the Tendulkar methodology.
This was also the point made by the previous regime - that whichever methodology one looked at, poverty was reduced during its rule - highlighting that its welfare schemes such as NREGS worked. However, officials did not give comparative figures to assess if the poverty rate declined faster under the UPA or the earlier NDA regime. The pattern is the same for rural and urban India, but the Rangarajan panel shows poverty was much underestimated in urban areas previously.
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