Posted by : Shoumik Das Sunday, September 1, 2013

Impressed by Raj Babbar’s lucid exposition of how it ispossible to have a nutritious meal for Rs. 12 in a city like Mumbai, the Planning Commission has invited the ex Bollywood star to chair a new expert committee to come up with a revised methodology for measuring poverty in India. The committee, also comprising Congress leader Rasheed Mashood and Farooq Abdullah, will estimate state wise poverty lines based on their nuanced understanding of prevailing prices structures for meals and accordingly compute poverty head-count ratios.
The government has been hardpressed to defend latest poverty estimates based on the methodologyrecommended by the late Professor Tendulkar, and Babbar’s intervention has been timely in this regard.
“Truth be told, even we are not sure how to interpret the Tendulkar method for poverty estimation. It’s indeed the Duckworth-Lewis method for poverty computation. No one gets it.  I think it has something to do with taking a poverty line bundle corresponding to an all India urban poverty headcount ratio of 28% in 2004-05 and then adjusting it across time and space using Fischer indices and prices gleaned from NSSO consumption expenditure surveys or something like that. So after all that mumbo-jumbo, it works out to Rs.33 per capita per day in urban India. Now you can either buy that line of reasoning or Babbarji’s story that it’s possible to have a hearty meal for Rs. 12 in Mumbai,” explained a Planning Commission ‘poverty expert’. Babbar has been asked to construct similar indices for other cities so that city level poverty lines (or Babbar lines) can be computed and more importantly, explained in layman’s terms.
However, even Babbar has not been able to explain how poverty head-count ratios have declined sharply in some state between 2009-10 and 2011-12. For instance, according to the Planning Commission, Bihar’s poverty headcount ratio marginally came down from 54.5% in 2004-05 to 53.5% in 2009-10 and then dramatically slid to 33.74% in 2011-12. “In Bihar anything can happen,” he shrugged. “Maybe, more Biharis now go to Mumbai to enjoy Rs.12 meals.”
In related news, members of the TNYC staged demonstrations outside Sachin Tendulkar’s house after new poverty estimates released by Planning Commision revealed that that the all-India poverty headcount ratio had sharply reduced from 37.2% in 2004-5 to 22% in 2010-11, the steepest decline ever over a six-year period.
“On one hand, madam is trying to pass the Food security bill which seeks to double the quantum of food subsidy to over 150,000 crores for 70% of poor Indians when this Tendulkar chap comes along and says that poverty has declined by 15% in India?? He shoud stick to cricket and not dabble in the politics of poverty,” said a highly irate TNYC president, Shekhar John, even as he gheraoed the master blaster’s house.
source:- Theunrealtimes

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