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How Low Can India's Poverty Line Go?

Social activists have reacted sharply to the Indian Planning Commission's report that 25 rupees (50 cents) and 31 rupees a day is sufficient for people in rural and urban areas, respectively. Jyoti Malhotra reports on the ongoing debate.

"In 2004, with the Congress party returning to power in defiance of the "Shining India" campaign launched by the outgoing Bharatiya Janata Party, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh commanded that Mr. Tendulkar revisit his poverty estimates and that Arjun Sengupta, another well-known economist, look into poverty levels, primarily in the unorganized sector.

By 2005-06, Mr. Sengupta had reported that 78% of the population lived below 20 rupees a day, while his fellow economist Mr. Tendulkar pulled up the poverty line from 26% (Planning Commission figures in 1999) to 42% for adults in rural areas spending below 15 rupees a day, keeping the 26% figure intact for the urban poor spending below 20 rupees a day. And in 2009, development scholar N. C. Saxena, suggested a via media figure of 50% for the rural poor, even as he suggested a methodology to identify them."

Full Story: Politics Journal: Can India Defend Its Poverty Line?

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