Plan panel figures fly in face of UNDP

Plan panel figures fly in face  of UNDP

 Besides being disputed within the country, the Planning Commission’s figures on the number of poor people in the country do not match with the numbers provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

According to UNDP, India has 612 million poor people, which would be 53.7 per cent of its total population. The figures are computed by researchers at Oxford University, whose report on the subject the UNDP had adopted.

The researchers determined the number based on Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), which takes into account poverty indicators such as years of schooling, nutrition, child mortality, covered floor and water availability.

On the contrary, the Planning Commission computes poverty on the basis of the Tendulkar methodology which considers the Monthly Per Capita Consumption Expenditure (MPCE).

The Commission had estimated the number of poor in the country to be 407 million in 2004-05, which was 37.2 per cent of the total population, which seem to underestimate the numbers by at least 200 million going by the UNDP figures.

The Commission now claims that between 2004-05 and now, that number has fallen by 137 million. It claims that India has a mere 207 million poor in 2011-12, which would amount to 21.9 per cent of the population.

Though the UNDP’s poverty numbers for 2011-12 is not available, the UN has said in its latest Millennium Development Report (2013) that 33 per cent among India’s population are poor in 2010.

“Irrespective of the methodology adopted to calculate poverty, it’s clear that there has been reduction in poverty due to policy intervention,” Delhi University’s senior economist Shekhar Singh told Deccan Herald.

Singh also pointed out that the pace of poverty-reduction during 2000-2005 has been slower despite the economic boom.  “We observe an accelerated pace of reduction in poverty during 2005-2012 compared to what it was during 2000-2005. This is the period of slower economic growth,” he said, stressing that it is policy intervention more than economic growth that reduces poverty.

The Oxford report also reveals that the pace of poverty reduction in Nepal and Bangladesh is much higher than in India due to policy intervention.

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