Tackling Poverty: Niti Aayog to release discussion paper soon

Sources said the paper on Eliminating Poverty: Creating Jobs and Strengthening Social Programs is expected to released next week.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: March 19, 2016 1:23:47 am
Arvind Panagariya at The Indian Express office Arvind Panagariya at The Indian Express office

A taskforce headed by Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya would release a discussion paper next week suggesting four options to track poor and a numbers of policy tools to reduce extreme poverty, government sources said on Friday.

The discussion paper suggests measures such as providing cash and in-kind transfers under the Public Distribution System, allowing farmers to hire MGNREGA workers during peak farming season, and asking each Gram Panchayat to identify five poorest families in the village and lift them out of poverty.

Sources said the paper on Eliminating Poverty: Creating Jobs and Strengthening Social Programs is expected to released next week. The full report of the taskforce to assess poverty and prepare a roadmap for its elimination is expected to be submitted in the next six months, the sources said. The report will be prepared after discussions with the states, which will begin next month. The deliberations will be held on issues related to defining and eliminating poverty.

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This taskforce was constituted in pursuance of a decision taken in the first meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the Governing Council of Niti Aayog, held on February 8, 2015. The taskforce was initially mandated to finalise its report by June 30, 2015. The paper suggests the need for identifying extreme poverty, with a view to eliminating it with new policy interventions and better implementation of existing schemes, the sources said.

According to the paper, the current official measures of poverty are based on the Tendulkar poverty line. But this line has been controversial with many observers criticising it as being too low. The controversies led the previous government to appoint the Rangarajan Committee, which recommended higher rural and urban poverty lines.

It said, “Going forward, we can consider four options for tracking the poor. Firstly, continue with the Tendulkar poverty line. Secondly, switch to the Rangarajan or other higher rural and urban poverty lines, thirdly track progress over time of the bottom 30 per cent of the population and lastly track progress along specific components of poverty such as nutrition, housing, drinking water, sanitation, electricity and connectivity.”

It further said, “While options third and fourth can complement the measurement of poverty using a poverty line, they cannot be substitute for it. Tracking reduction in poverty requires a direct measure of poverty. In turn, this requires us to choose between first and second options.”

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