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Reform-rich years help bring poverty line down

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Two methods, but both indicate that it's time for a cheer in the country. For, those below poverty line are on the decline, that too at a higher rate.
According to the latest National Sample Survey (NSS) data for the year 2004-05, poverty levels are down to 21.8 per cent as compared to 36 per cent in 1993-94. In urban areas, the level fell from 23.6 per cent to 21.7 per cent, while in rural areas, the level's down from 27.1 per cent to 21.8 per cent.
This means poverty levels fell around 0.86 percentage points per year between 1993-94 and 2004-05, marginally higher than the 0.81 percentage points between 1983 and 1993-94, or the pre-reforms period.
However, the rate of decline in the post-reforms period is faster: Poverty declined by 1.8 per cent per annum between 1983 and 1993-94, and the rate of decline rose to 3.3 per cent per annum between 1999-2000 and 2004-05.
Urban reality
Below poverty line
Orissa: 40.30%
Madhya Pradesh: 39.30%
Chhattisgarh: 34.70%
Urban poor
Maharashtra: 1.314 cr
Uttar Pradesh: 1.004 cr
Sikkim: 2,000 (lowest)
However, the use of two sets of questionnaires to determine the poverty levels "" the uniform recall period (URP) and the mixed recall period (MRP) "" has made the data confusing. While the URP level of 27.5 per cent is comparable with the 36 per cent poverty level in 1993-94, the MRP level of 21.8 per cent is comparable with the 26.1-per cent level in 1999-2000.
Rural legend
Below poverty line
Jharkhand: 40.20%
Orissa: 39.80%
Dadra & Nagar Haveli: 36.00%
Rural poor
Uttar Pradesh: 3.57 cr
Bihar: 2.62 cr
Delhi: 10,000 (lowest)
However, in both cases, poverty levels have shown a decline between 0.8 and 0.9 per cent per annum.
Twice proved
Poverty in India (in %)
Uniform Recall Period Mixed Recall Period
'93-'94 '04-'05 '99-'00 '04-'05
Rural 37.30 28.30 27.10 21.80
Urban 32.40 25.70 23.60 21.70
Total 36.00 27.50 26.10 21.80
Considering the MRP, URP sampling during the last decade "" a period driven by reforms "" nearly 4.3 per cent of the population came out of poverty.
The bulk of this period saw the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in power at the Centre.
The estimates are likely to raise questions over the UPA government's strategy for rural economy. Programmes like Bharat Nirman, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and rural roads, may need a re-look, say official sources.
Based on MRP, more than 50 per cent of the poor are concentrated in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
The figures may embarrass the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, where 4.58-crore people are BPL. In case of West Bengal, 20.6 per cent of the population fall comprise the BPL category, while in reformist states like Gujarat and Punjab, only 12.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent of the respective population are below the poverty line.
Surprisingly, Jammu and Kashmir, at 4.2 per cent, is at the bottom of the BPL population list.

First Published: Thu, March 22 2007. 00:00 IST