People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 13

March 25, 2012

Fraudulent Poverty Estimates of Planning Commission


The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) issued the following statement on March 20, 2012.


THE Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) condemns the efforts of the Planning Commission to use fraudulent methods to deliberately underestimate the level of poverty in the country. In spite of the national outrage when the Planning Commission had given its earlier estimates to the Supreme Court, it has retained the same poverty measure suggested by the Tendulkar committee. This has meant an absurdly low national poverty line of Rs 22.40 per day for an adult in rural areas and Rs 28.65 per day for an adult in urban areas, in 2009-10. Anyone spending more that this is being categorised as non-poor. On the basis of these flawed figures, the Planning Commission claims that the proportion of BPL persons has gone down by 7 per cent between 2004-05 to 2009-10.


This shows the huge gap between the members of the Planning Commission and the reality lived by crores of people in this country who have been burdened by relentless price rise amidst meagre incomes. It hardly needs to be stated that these are destitution lines and it is a shame that an institution chaired by the prime minister should produce such absurd figures.


What is shocking is that even with these gross under-estimates, large proportions of our population are shown to continue living in destitution. The proportion ranges from 37-39 per cent in states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha to around 50 per cent in Bihar and Chhattisgarh. Shockingly, the North Eastern states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland are showing an increase in destitution levels. This calls the bluff of “inclusive growth” under the UPA government.


Even the recently released Household Amenities and Assets Census of 2011 shows the extent of poverty in different spheres in India. Out of the 24.6 crore households in India, only 29 per cent have a house with concrete roof, only 32 per cent have access to tapped drinking water and only 47 per cent have a latrine facility within the premises. 49.8 per cent of the households still have to defecate in the open; 49 per cent of the households still use firewood as the fuel for cooking and another 17 per cent use cowdung cake or crop residue. 39 per cent of households do not have any kitchen.


The CPI(M) considers the Planning Commission’s poverty estimates to be a dishonest attempt to conceal the reality of glaring inequalities and increasing poverty in India. The CPI(M) demands that the prime minister should make a categorical statement that these fraudulent poverty measures will not be used to deny poor people of their right to BPL cards or be used as a benchmark for allocating funds to the states or for welfare programmes.