Nearly half of Chhattisgarh’s population has been estimated to be below the poverty line, according to the new definition of poverty.
In contrast, Goa, with just 6.3 per cent of its residents under the poverty line, tops the list of states with the lowest poverty count.
The findings are a part of the new poverty estimates that have been made by a panel led by C Rangarajan, former chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.
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On a national level, the report estimated the number of poor at 45.46 crore at 2011-12 prices, which is much higher than the 35.47 crore estimate by the Suresh Tendulkar committee.
In effect, this means that three out of every ten Indians are poor.
Defining the poverty line as “a maximum level of household income at which a household is able to meet its consumption expenditure”, the Rangarajan committee has based its methodology for estimating poverty on observed data of household income and expenses.
Accordingly, it has suggested that persons spending less than Rs 47 a day or Rs 1,407 per month in cities and up to Rs 32 or Rs 972 per month in villages should be considered poor.
This a significant change from the Tendulkar committee report that had suggested that the poverty line should be kept at Rs 33 per day in cities and Rs 27 per day in villages.
However, Rangarajan told The Indian Express that a “better way to look at the poverty line would be through the monthly consumption expenditure per household” rather than the per person/per day method.
The report has accordingly pegged the poverty line at Rs 4,860 in rural areas or Rs 7,035 in urban areas for a family of five at 2011-12 prices.
In its report submitted to minister of state for planning Rao Inderjit Singh on July 1, the Rangarajan committee has pegged the poverty ratio at 38.2 per cent in FY10 that fell by 8.7 per cent to 29.5 per cent in FY11.
The Tendulkar committee, in its highly controversial report, had estimated the poverty ratio from 29.8 per cent in FY10 that fell by 7.9 per cent to 21.9 per cent in FY12. The Rangarajan panel also noted sharp variations across states in the poverty line with Delhi having the highest per capita consumption expenditure of Rs 1,492.46 per person in rural areas.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with a per capita monthly expenditure of Rs 1,797.69, was the highest in cities.
On the other end of the spectrum, Orissa had the lowest monthly per capita consumption expenditure at a mere Rs 876.42 in rural areas and Rs 1,205.37 in urban areas.
The former UPA government chose to set up the five-member expert panel chaired by Rangarajan in June 2012 after the poverty estimates of the Tendulkar committee came under serious criticism.
The estimates will be a useful input for the government in targeted programmes for poverty reduction as well as subsidy plans.