How to reduce the number of poor? Just push down the poverty line!

Food for thought: Of ‘richness’ and ‘enrichedness’

I don’t know how the people at the helm of affairs come up with these figures. But I feel it requires nerves of steel to stretch your neck out and declare that all a person needs to live a life of non-deprivation [or as non-poor] is Rs.28/- a day [i.e 0.56 US dollars at today’s conversion rate].

India’s Planning Commission has just declared that the number of poor in India has come down. A little more than 50 million people have climbed out of poverty … or have been simply ‘climbed’ out by the quaint finding that people need even less to live now than they did five years ago: Twenty-eight rupees a day now as against Thirty-two rupees a day in 2004-05. [Source: Business Standard, March 20, 2012].

The same business paper also reports another set of numbers, from another finding: of the Boston Consulting Group’s Connected World Series study. Indians pay about twenty-two rupees a day for Internet access and services! The Indians featured in this sample, of course, are another set of Indians – a consumer base to whom the ‘Internet has become an integral part of everyday life.’

I wonder: do the committee members who came up with the poverty line figures feature in the consumer base of the Boston Consulting Group’s study? Should people be categorised as rich and non-rich or as enriched and non-enriched?


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