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Measuring Urban Poverty in India

Measuring Urban Poverty in India

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Published by Sweta Verma Sunder
Poverty in India is still rampant despite an impressive economic growth. An estimated
250 million people are below the poverty line and approximately 75 per cent of them are
in the rural areas. The growth rate of urban population is due to the large-scale
shifting of rural population to urban areas.
Poverty in India is still rampant despite an impressive economic growth. An estimated
250 million people are below the poverty line and approximately 75 per cent of them are
in the rural areas. The growth rate of urban population is due to the large-scale
shifting of rural population to urban areas.

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Published by: Sweta Verma Sunder on Mar 22, 2008
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Measuring Urban Poverty
Poverty in India is still rampant despite an impressive economic growth. An estimated250 million people are below the poverty line and approximately 75 per cent of them arein the rural areas. 1973-74, the urban population was 60 million. It increased to 64.6million in 1977-78, 70.9m in 1983-84, 75.2m in 1987-88, 76.3m in 1993-94, and in 1999-2000 it had risen to 77.2m. The growth rate of urban population is due to the large-scaleshifting of rural population to urban areas. This steep rate of growth of urban populationalong with the urban bias in developing countries has brought in its wake problems likepopulation explosion in cities, slum formation and urban poverty.Urban poverty, whichhas a serious impact on economic growth in India.Tamilnadu is fourth most populated state in India. Tamil Nadu has performed well inhuman development. With an index of 0.531, it ranked third in India, though consideredlow as against western standards. This includes population, sex ratio, density of population, per capita income, Below Poverty Line, Infant Mortality Rate, Literacy Rate,and Women's Empowerment. The life expectancy at birth for males is 65.2 years and forfemales it is 67.6 years. However, it has a number of challenges, significantly, thepoverty is high, especially in the rural areas. As of 2004-2005, the poverty line was set atRs. 351.86 / month for rural areas and Rs. 547.42 / month for urban areas. Poverty in thestate had dropped from 51.7% in 1983 to 21.1% in 2001. For the period 2004-2005, theTrend in Incidence of Poverty in the state was 22.5% as against the national figure of 27.5%.Over one-half of these people live in slums or are homeless; they live intenements and huts, on pavements, along railway tracks, under bridges and in otherspaces available to them. The conditions of life under which the homeless and slumdwellers of Chennai live are conditions of terrible poverty, squalor and deprivation.Poverty is symptomatic of inadequate economic development.Poverty in India is still rampant despite an impressive economic growth. An estimated250 million people are below the poverty line and approximately 75 per cent of them arein the rural areasThe estimation of poverty in India is based on two critical components. First, informationon the consumption expenditures and its distribution across households is provided by theNSS consumption expenditure surveys. Second, these expenditures by households areevaluated with reference to a given poverty line. Households with consumptionexpenditures below the poverty line are deemed poor.Poverty in India can be defined as a situation only when a section of peoples are unableto satisfy the basic needs of life. The definition and methods of measuring poverty differsfrom country to country. The Planning Commission estimates the proportion and numberof poor separately for rural and urban India at the national and State levels based on therecommendations of the Task Force on ‘Projections of Minimum Needs and EffectiveConsumption Demands’ (1979). The Task Force had defined the poverty line (BPL) asthe cost of an all India average consumption basket at which calorie norms were met. Thenorms were 2400 calories per capita per day for rural areas and 2100 calories for urban
 
areas. These calorie norms have been expressed in monetary terms as Rs. 49.09 and Rs.56.64 per capita per month for rural and urban areas respectively at 1973-74 prices. If theperson is unable to get that minimum level of calories is considered as being belowpoverty line.The
poverty in India
can be defined on the basis of 
rural poverty
as well as
urbanpoverty.Rural Poverty in India
India is a more rural based country highly dependent on agricultural sector. There ishigher concentration of poverty in the rural India as to the given statistics. Government'splans and procedures have failed in many times. The important reasons for country'spoverty are as follows:1) Alarming population Growth2) Lack of Investment3) Lower Literacy Rate4) Regional inequalities5) Failure of PDS system
Urban Poverty in India
India is stepping forward for becoming a country with more urbanized. The recentexperiences tell that the urban areas are facing the same problem of poverty as of therural areas. The reasons behind urban poverty are as follows:1) Improper Training2) Growing population3) Slower job Growth4) Failure of PDS SystemEstimates of incidence of Poverty in India
Poverty Ratio (Per cent)Number Of Poor (Millions)YearRural UrbanCombined RuralUrban Combined
1977-78 53.1 45.2 51.3 264.3 64.4 328.91983 45.7 40.8 44.5 252.0 70.9 322.91987-88 39.1 38.238.9 231.9 75.2 307.11993-94 37.3 32.4 36.0 244.0 76.3 320.31999-00 27.1 23.6 26.1 193.2 67.1 260.32007*21.1 15.1 19.3 170.5 49.6 220.1
 
* Poverty projections for 2007Source: Tenth Five Year Plan, Volume I, Planning CommissionThe biggest cities are growing faster than smaller towns. India’s mega-cities have thehighest percentage of slum-dwellers in the country. This indicates that as big cities groweven larger, their slums will swell. While slums have become an important place to reachthe urban poor, even though the urban poor do not all live in slums. The urban poorpopulation in India is estimated to be nearly 8 crores currently, while the slum populationis only 4 crores.Establishing an appropriate poverty line to monitor changes in income poverty is alsodifficult. A poverty line should be set which reflects the income needed to avoiddeprivation within each local context. For urban poverty, at the very least it should reflectthe income needed not only to purchase sufficient food but also to obtain a secure shelterwith adequate quality water, sanitation and garbage collection, to pay for transport andfor keeping children at school, and to afford health care and medicines when needed. The‘non-food’ monetary costs of avoiding poverty are generally higher in urban areas than inrural areas, as access to housing, resources and services are monetized – and usuallyparticularly expensive in larger or more prosperous cities. But very few nations haveincome-based poverty lines that vary from place to place, reflecting differences in theincome needed to avoid poverty. Where there is provision for this, it usually focuses onvariations in the cost of food or variations in what the poorest 20 per cent of householdsspend on non-food items, which is not the same as the income level they need to avoiddeprivation.
The multi-dimensional nature of poverty
Urban poverty is usually characterised by:1.
Inadequate household income
(resulting in inadequate consumption of basicnecessities), sometimes exacerbated by an uneven distribution of consumptionwithin households, between men and women and between adult men and children.2.
Limited asset base
for individuals, households or communities (including bothmaterial assets such as housing and capital goods, and non-material assets such associal and family networks and ‘safety nets’).3.
Inadequate provision of ‘public’ infrastructure and services
(piped water,sanitation, drainage, health care, schools, emergency services, etc.)4.
Inadequate protection by the law
– for instance, regarding civil and politicalrights, health and safety in the workplace, environmental legislation andprotection from violence.5.
‘Voicelessness’ and powerlessness
within the political system – no possibility orright to receive entitlements, make demands within political systems or get a fairresponse.6.
Exploitation and discrimination
(often on the basis of gender, caste, age,ethnicity, etc.)

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