Changing poverty criteria ‘drops’ the number of poor in India (Time, The Guardian, The Hindu, Russia Today)

In September 2011, the Indian government announced a drop in the number of poor people in the country by changing the criteria used to measure poverty. The urban poverty line was reduced to 32 rupees (US$0.65) a day in urban areas (and 26 rupees in rural areas), a revision that immediately ‘dropped’ India‚Äôs number of poor from 37 per cent to 32 per cent of its population (Time Magazine, 04-10-2011). Following a public outcry, in October, the government stated that these poverty estimates will not be used to impose any ceilings on the number of households to be included in different government programs and schemes (The Guardian, 04-11-2011). In March 2012, the Planning Commission released a new poverty estimate showing a further decline in the incidence of poverty by 7.3 per cent over the past five years. This new estimate relied on a further lowering of the poverty line to 28.35 rupees and 22.42 rupees in urban and rural areas respectively (The Hindu, 20-03-2012).

For data on poverty and inequality in India, see this recent UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Working Paper: It states that since the early 1990s, the evidence suggests increasing inequality (in both spatial and vertical terms) as well as persistent poverty (Pal, P. & Ghosh, J. (2007). Inequality in india: A survey of recent trends. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Working Paper, 45, 1-28).

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