Reality check for the learned economists

“The Planning Commission (of India) recently told the Supreme Court that poverty line for urban and rural areas could be provisionally placed at Rs.965 per capita per month (Rs.32 per day) and Rs.781 per capita per month (Rs.26 per day) respectively.” That was a quote from today’s Times of India.  Obviously the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commision and good friend of the Prime Minister, Shri Monetk Singh Ahluwalia has not applied his mind on the information his department has forwarded to the court.  Can a family of two adults and a child – the ideal family according to the govt. – have any life on Rs. 52 a day? Even with a hut on a puramboke land, just two pairs of cloths for each, kerosene stove and travel by foot, not to speak of incidental medical and educational  expenses, that would be an impossibility. Not surprisingly Indian govt’s poverty line  has provoked criticism from across the country. Some people have thought it good to impart some practical wisdom by demanding Mrs. Ahluwalia to demonstrate that life is possible with that kind of daily earning. One gentleman villager from J&K Shri. Darvinder Singh has gone a step ahead and mailed Rs. 26 by demand draft to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is the Chairman of the Planning Commission and the Deputy Chairman Mr. Ahluwalia requesting them to live a day with that money alone.
Our learned governing economists should recall that the United States of America  whose economic supremacy they want to emulate considers any of its citizen earning less than the dollar equivalent of Rupees 1 lakh per year as poor. While we don’t expect our acclaimed economists to take that as a new poverty line in India but we do hope that they would find a level at which human beings can  sustain themselves as humans but not as cattle or dogs.

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2 thoughts on “Reality check for the learned economists

  1. Ravi October 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm Reply

    Last time I was in India (Dec 2009), I found the cost of living sky rocketted in the cities. I could not understand how the normal people not in the IT field are surviving. Meanwhile the yuppies are throwing cash around like nobodies business. Realistically Rs.100 seems to have little value and flies out in a wink.
    I am not sure what is the minimum that you need to survive in a city like Chennai, but I am sure if you travel to little places like Kanadukathan or Kambarasanpettai or Atthipattu it will be far less. (But then you may not find an outlet to spend even) In my view you can declare 90 or 95% of Indians as poor compared to a developed country. But probably better approach is one which takes care of local factors.
    My grandpa had 2 cows and few buffaloes, little bit of land for cultivation. He was always cash short, but his home always had plenty of food for everyone. He managed to get 2 of his daughters married – without selling his lands. For the 3rd daughter he took the help of my uncles.
    I don’t like communism – it is like free handout for everyone, it probably died out except for Indian parties. I am seeing ill effects of Capitalism everyday, the corporate greed will make your jaw drop in any developed country. Majority of the credit crunch can be traced back to greediness of the banks.
    I have minimal knowledge about economics and so can’t comment which model is good for India.
    Unfortunately for the individual, it just the fate – isn’t it? (where he/she lives, what period, which side of the economy – money coming in every microsecond or paying through blood, sweat and tears)

  2. jothicharles October 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm Reply

    Hi Ravi, the expenses may be less in villages but they are there anyway. Regarding land or cattle owning farmers, if the cost of the food produced and consumed by themselves is be accounted, then their per day expenses will be high which in turn means their per day income is high.

    I think neither communism of the state controlled type nor capitalism of the financial institution centred American type can be the ultimate economic system. But it is a matter we have to discuss in detail. My point here is only to show the slovenliness of governmental functionaries responsible for country’s economics where they don’t even have their basic calculations on poverty line proper.

    Well it is tough to accept poverty as punishment for bad karma. Even if you believe in that theory don’t you think you should like to help people to nullify that bad karma with good and promote themselves to better life?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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