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Advocacy Assignment
Submitted to: Ms. Monika
Submitted by: 2009/SW/080
Introduction to Poverty:

Poverty is one of the main issues, attracting the attention of sociologists and economists. It
indicates a condition in which a person fails to maintain a living standard adequate .

Though India boasts of a high economic growth, it is shameful that there is still large scale
poverty in India. Poverty in India can be defined as a situation when a certain section of people
are unable to fulfill their basic needs. India has the world's largest number of poor people living
in a single country. Out of its total population of more than 1 billion, 350 to 400 million people
are living below the poverty line. Nearly 75% of the poor people are in rural areas, most of them
are daily wagers, landless laborers and self employed house holders. There are a number of
reasons for poverty in India. Poverty in India can be classified into two categories namely rural
poverty and urban poverty.Urban poverty poses the problems of housing and shelter, water,
sanitation, health, education, social security and livelihoods along with special needs of
vulnerable groups like women, children and aged people. A large number of states report poverty
figures in urban areas much above that in rural areas.

At the national level, rural poverty is higher than poverty in urban areas but the gap between the
two has decreased over the last couple of decades. The incidence of decline of urban poverty has
not accelerated with GDP growth. As the urban population in the country is growing, so is urban
poverty. Poor people live in slums which are overcrowded, often polluted and lack basic civic
amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation and health facilities. Most of them are involved in
informal sector activities where there is constant threat of eviction, removal, confiscation of
goods and almost non-existent social security cover. A substantial portion of the benefits
provided by public agencies are cornered by middle and upper income households. 54.71 percent
of urban slums have no toilet facility. Most free community toilets built by state government or
local bodies are rendered unusable because of the lack of maintenance.

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The Tendulkar committee report on poverty estimation:

The Tendulkar Committee had been set up after the March 2009 National Development Council
meeting, to look into the methodology for estimating poverty, because there was widespread
criticism that the Planning Commission was producing unrealistically low poverty estimates.
Further the government using the Commission’s estimates has been claiming large reduction in
poverty in both rural and urban India under economic reforms, even though the unemployment
situation was getting worse, food grain consumption and cloth consumption were falling, average
calorie intake as well as protein intake showed decline and there was considerable agrarian

The official reports released by the planning commission mostly criticized on basis of various
facts. For such reasons the Tendulkar committee was set up for the study of poverty estimation in
the country. The expert group has developed new strategies to examine the issue and address the
growing concerns. The reports suggest certain guidelines for the estimation of poverty,
According to the data collected by NSS survey the estimation of poverty will be done, it will be
same for urban as well as rural areas. The team has found the NSS data on the calorie norms for
the estimation of poverty line are not factual and mostly irrelevant because it was calculated on
the bases of consumed quantity of the food in thirty days. The data collected under the NSSO
survey provides factual information for the poverty estimation; The expert group was more
interested in adopting the certain estimates like Mixed Reference Period on the bases for future
poverty lines as against the earlier 30 days recall period. There are certain criteria were given
under the poverty line basket which was sufficient to separate non-poor from poor. The PLB was
the most acceptable element in the present situation. The rural poverty ratio was comparatively
higher than urban poverty ration. The factors for measuring was also includes nutritional,
educational and health outcome. There were two ways to define calorie norms first includes food,
health and education while the another was including normative expenditure consisted with
nutritional, health and education. The private expenditure was easily calculated and available
with newly defined poverty line in urban as well as rural areas. The old poverty line was not
accountable for the newly arrived method of assessing poverty by education and health as well.

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There are certain calorie norms declared by Food and Agriculture Organization according to
which the urban person minimum should get 1770 calorie per capita while the rural poor should
get 1999 per capita. In the case of the urban calorie norm it was more closed to revised new
norms while in the case of rural calorie norms it was quite more far. In the newly recommended
poverty line there has been given a separate allowances for transport and conveyance. The
consumer expenditure survey conducted by the NSS was more useful and near to reality in terms
of it was also indicating the prices of food, fuel, light, clothing as well as footwear and the actual
price paid by the consumer of rural as well as urban areas. The expert group in its judgment
introduced a new concept of estimating prices without keeping in mind the quality differences in
consumed commodities by the urban as well as rural household. The new poverty line
incorporating all the Indian states to afford the recommended all-India urban PLB. The newly
poverty line was also incorporating north-eastern region states in it. There was no special
recommendation for poverty lines of union territories but they were recommended to use the
poverty line of the neighboring state. The all-India rural headcount ratio using the recommended
procedure was 28.3 percent in comparison to 41.8 percent.

Scope of Poverty:

The scope of poverty can be define with keeping in mind socially perceived deprivation with
special focus on the basic human needs, There are certain fundamental needs like need for good
clothing, need for quite well house, need to tackle with certain chronic diseases apart from this
all the human beings have certain basic human material needs. The report excluded the non-
material dimensions of poverty like gender biases, caste discrimination. The needs are satisfied n
three ways either by individual’s own earning, earning of household from prevailing economic
activities or by the government benefits.

Critics of Existing Poverty lines:

The existing poverty line was defined on the bases of individual consumer expenditure
according to market prices on 1973-74 which was completely irrelevant in current scenario.
There were huge differences in the proportion of poor in urban and rural areas in many states
which was not taken in to consideration. It was assumed that the expenditure on education and

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health will be taken care by the state but the situation was not the same and even the increase in
expenditure proportionately was not taken in to the consideration over a period of time.

Procedure for updating the poverty line for 2009-2010 and further:

The expert group has suggested procedure for updating the poverty line was more demanding
than the present method, therefore they have recommended followings, the planning commission
was set up earlier to collect required information.

Report of the Expert Group to advise the Ministry of Rural development on the
Methodology for Conducting the Below Poverty Line cansus for 11th five year plan by

The large level sample survey was conducted by the NSSO, on the basis of the collected data for
the national as well as state level BPL survey of consumer expenditure for the poverty
estimation. The village wise sample poverty survey was conducted for estimating the number of
BPL families in the rural areas on the basis of which various government schemes like IAY,
SGSY, NSAP etc were provided to the poor. In addition to this various ministries were using this
list for preparing the list of their own beneficiaries for PDS, health insurance, scholarship etc.
Apart from this it was used for the successful delivering certain state specific schemes. The BPL
list is much of importance for the government officials as well as the rural and urban poors.

Estimation of Poverty:

Universal vs Targeted approach:

The issues of the universal vs targeted entitlements came up always, the committee has
recommended the universalisation approach as there was a more scope for the inclusion of the
BPL people. The committee was abide by the fundamental rights of the Indian constitution for
the implementation of the schemes. The inactment of Right Food Law was also announced by the
President of India. There was recommendation for not to give benefits only on the basis of
survey but there must be schemes which were for all. There should be programmes for SCs, STs,
minorities etc.

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Determining the total number of BPL families:

The rural population which was not able to have enough calorie food was higher in the numbers
than the present cut-off. Therefore the committee has recommended to revised the percentage of
the population . The planning commission has recommended certain criteria for re-survey certain
areas on the bases of available information. The disaggregation was needed for the perfect data,
therefore in the first part the poor households were decided by block wise, and for further detail
desegregation it was left on the collector to take further steps.

BPL Census 2002- A Critique:

There were certain criteria which were criticized by the rural people, their NGOs, their leaders
etc. Like Landholding especially with irrigated land weather it was privately irrigated or by
government it was not mentioned. Type of house as since long time the government was
providing them fund under IAY which has converted their houses in puccka houses. Availability
of clothing the number of clothes was questionable here as it was not according to the weather of
the area. Sanitation was the concern of private investment of the family in toilet construction.
Literacy status of highest literate was criticized because of its policy for the further education.
Apart from all this there were certain other criteria like Means of Livelihood, Status of Children,
Type of indebtedness, Reasons for Migration, preference of assistance etc.

Identification of Rural poor Households:

There are three basic approaches were decided to identify. Identification of those who need to be
excluded. It was the duty of the government to ensure that the poorest and the most vulnerable
should get included in any circumstances and Grading all the households so the poor should not
be left out even after the completion of survey they should not left out from any facilities
programme. As per the NSSO report 509, the percentage of household possessing motor cars or
jeeps in 2004-2005 was less than 1 percent.

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Automatic Inclusion:

The chronically poor always pass the legacy to their children for the ages of marginalization and
poverty. It has been proved from past experiences that the chronically poor are always because of
their social, economical and political powerlessness. Such exclusion is directly linked with caste,
gender and other social inequalities. They face social barriers in terms of food and livelihood
security which may include gender and caste as well. Primitive tribal groups are existin they
should be identified on the basis of their pre-agriculture occupation, literacy level etc. This is
also same in the case of the Maha Dalits.

Survey of Remaining Households by Scoring:

There will be survey for excluding for exclusion of the non deserving people. The people who
are not follow in the list according to criteria decided by the government. It will rank families on
the basis of given waitage. The methods used must be more accurate and easily understood by
the government officials and easy to implement. The methods should be verifiable and enough
transparent and easily available to the villagers. The criteria should be relevant for the purpose of
the census, namely to identify household. The criteria should not trouble the poor families who
are sending their children to schools. The criteria should be respectful to the principle of the
affirmative action.

Conclusion of Report:

The report was according to the need of the government as well as society. The report was with
the purpose of the explaining truth. The criterias which should be included in the estimating
poverty are food, shelter, good clothing and health. There was a need to set up certain criteria
where there was a need to address the programme wise problems and issues of the people. The
report was opposes universalisation of the PDS, because of the prosperous people’s welfare
government should not debar from basic rights.

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Report on Conditions of work and promotion of livelihoods in the Promotion of Livelihoods
in Unorganized Sector by Arjun Sengupta:

The report is mainly focuses on the workers of the unorganized or informal sector. The special
focus is given on the workers of the unorganized sector as they are covering major chunk of the
labor force still they are not recognized by the government. For most of them the working
conditions are not favorable. At the macro level economics there has been a wider growth in the
country but it has not lead much impact or benefits at micro level. The foreign exchange is
increased in the country’s economy. According to available data there was 77% of the population
who were living under poverty line who were not able to earn average 20 rs. Per day.

To fulfill the gapes in the unorganized sector the government of India constituted National
Commission for Unorganized Sector. The commission has recommended entitlements for the
social security of the workers in the unorganized sector. The draft bill was submitted for the
worker in the agricultural sector as well as non- agricultural sector. The report claims the
importance of wages for the workers in the unorganized sectors. The size of the unorganized
economy was more than the organized sector economy. Out of that more than a 50% was
accounted by the agricultural workers. The report has also examined the vulnerability of the
workers like self employed workers, Unprotected wage workers in the unorganized sector and
regular unorganized Workers.

The commission has recommended the distinct category of the home workers, they were
classified as self employed workers. They were classified under two categories named
independent workers or sub-contract workers. IN NSS survey of 2000 it was first time included
about the work conditions and nature of contracts. They are in the most vulnerable situation. The
commission has categorized total population of the country in six categories.

There are very few projects which are n nature of entitlements, The report was concentrated in
five core thematic areas to have more clear picture on the unorganized workers. The areas were
issues related to working conditions, Issue related to remuneration at work, Issues related to
social security benefits, issues related to industrial labor relations. Issues related to conditions of
work for the disadvantaged group of the people and issues related to expanding the employment
and employability.

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One of the very important issue was the issue of minimum wages, there is larger debate going
around the world, the labor market sets the floor for the minimum wages. There was a demand
for answering the question at which level the minimum wages were set. The minimum wages
have impact on the wages at large scale. There was one more rising issue of working conditions
of the labors at working plae which also focuses on overtime, holidays, safety conditions etc. The
working condition regulation was also to ensure the dignity of work.

The discrimination and disadvantaged conditions were harming the dignity of The labor market
discrimination across sectors and occupation, the situation becomes further debilitating when
gender disadvantage is superimposed on other disadvantages such as low social status, low
education and rural location. In this regard the role of the state is the most important as this the
era of globalization driven by the ideology of economic liberalization, the role of the state has
been changed time to time but the basic responsibility of the state to provide certain basic
facilities like health, education till primary level etc. The commission has given certain criteria
which are suitable for the working conditions for the workers of unorganized labors. The
minimum working conditions for the Industrial workers were for their betterment and security.
After the report was completed there were few suggestions and recommendations were given on
the draft bill. The commission also requested the state governments for specific information on
on number of issues The comments and responses were received on the formed the basis of
perception for the bill.

There were certain protective measures define for Unorganized workers are as follows:
Minimum Conditions of Work was ensured both internationally and in India. There has been
regulation on the working conditions, labor welfare and social security. The commission has
given two separate bills for aricultur and non agriculture workers. The minimum working
condition includes eight hour working days with at least half hour working break, a national
minimum wage, a weekly paid day for rest, piece- rate wages to equal time –rated wages,
employment specific done by women, no deduction of wages in terms of fine, no discrimination
on the basis of gender, caste, class and religion, incidence of HIV/AIDS or places of origin;
provision of adequate safety equipment.

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Minimum level of Social Security which was including life insurance, health insurance. Old age
security. The national social security scheme was developed for the next five year phase. The
scheme was implies the financial cost of Rs 1905 per worker per year which implies the total
cost for the both kind of labors.

The special programme was recommended for the marginalized and small farmers, apart from
large public investments and large scale programmes the government has shown interest in the
welfare of the small farmers by providing them subsidies to support their initiatives. The
government has launched certain schemes named Marginal Farmers and Agricultural laborers
Scheme, The Small Farmers Development Agency and the million Wells Scheme. In the later
part the programmes were loosing their sectoral focus and integrated in the other local schemes.
The objectives of the government was to promote the area specific interventions for the
marginalized and poor sections of the farmers. It was the task of government to take
responsibility of the specific irrigation, crop procurement, measures for reductions of risks,
formation of procurement groups.

The emphasize was given on the accelerated land and water management as it was recognized as
the key for the sustained growth in rural livelihoods. The solution of the land and water
management related problems were lied in the policy recommended by the commission.

The provision of the credit for the marginalized and small farmers was reviewed by the
commission and is found. The commission has suggested certain measures for the marginalized
and small farmers. The reserve bank should separate credit flow of this marginalized section, the
outreach of the banking sector should be increased, the farmers who are excluded due to lack of
patta or land titles should be given the credit on the basis of basic certificates issued by the
panchayat. The farmers’ debt relief commission was analyzed .

The commission report has encouraged SHGs for livelihood promotion as it is one of the most
important tool for the people’s realization, empowerment along with making them independent.
The micro-credits were given to the SHGs and loans were also given along with certain

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Methods of Poverty Estimations on the basis of Targeted Interventions:
There are certain methods of poverty measurement which are useful in evaluation of the success
of the growth performance in the terms of welfare characteristics captured by the per capita
consumption expenditure of the people. The classification of the people were done on the basis
of the per capita income in categories like extremely poor, poor, marginal, vulnerable, middle
income, high income, extremely poor and poor, marginal and vulnerable, middle and high
income group and all to find average per capita expenditure of the people. The majority of the
group was divided in the major four groups who were covering 77% of the total population. The
evaluation was also done on the basis of caste by keeping in mind other social factors.

The divide between poor and non-poor was also an important factor such as social examination,.
There was an inclusion of the certain groups of the people like SCs. STs, OBCs, Muslims and
other religious minorities.

The Saxena committee has given the report has given though to the universal vs targeted
entitlements. There was a dilemma in the committee as few members were recommending the
social and economic entitlements , it might would have blocked or restricted the poor who are
officially declared as BPLs. Many states has pointed out that the present poverty line cut-off has
created large level dissatisfaction in the rural areas. According to field realities the BPL survey
conducts under the influence of various factors operating in the villages. There are dynamics like
caste, class, religion, gender which play a major role in deciding the beneficiaries for the BPL
survey. In many villages according to field work experiences of Student Social Worker it has
been observed that the villagers who are much nearer to sarpanch will get all the benefits which
should be reach to the poor. There is a massive corruption in estimation and allotment of the BPL
cards at government level and even in the implementation of the government schemes there has
been discrimination to poor as they cannot raise their voices against the ruling powers either due
to their inability or lack of awareness.

The study of the nutritional requirement is also one the major tool for estimating the poverty for
effectively testing the needs and effective consumption demand according to national calorie

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norms. The figure was derived by using the age, sex, occupation and specific nutritional norms
for all India demographical data. During the baseline year 1973-74 as monthly per capita
expenditure was 49rs for rural areas while 57 rs. For urban areas. While deciding the same it was
kept in mind about the daily expenditure for consumption basket.

The national poverty line was decided at 356 rs. Per capita per month in rural areas while 539 rs.
For urban areas which was very less, to cover the national calorie norms there was requirement
of the 700 rs. In rural areas and 1000 rs. in urban areas. But the current limit was excluding large
chunk of the people ad even it was covering only 1820 calories which were less than decided
national calorie norms.

The poor need more calorie due to the hard work they does but the calorie norms were same for
all the people while the poor are the once who got less colorized food. In certain cases there has
been a decline in the calorie consumption due to more sedentary life style of the people or as a
result of increased in diversification in the food intake. But this cannot be interpreted as the sign
of prosperity because still they have to do hard work to earn their livelihood.

By the proper assessment of data it has been found out that There has been successful decline in
the number of people under BPL line since 1973-74 to 2004-05 but there has not been any
decline on number of people consuming less calorie food. So there is need to re-estimating
poverty for having proper data.

Similar distributing trends is observed for cereal consumption also as the most vulnerable 10%
population consumes 10 kg per month while the top 305 who are well off consumes 12 kg per
month infact the poor are in need of more calorie thus in need of more food. As India develops
the cereal consumption ahs been increased and the rich have moved towards the more expensive
food like pulses, vegetables, fruits but the poor are still here where they were since long ago.
Thus it is dilemma for the people as the society progresses there are new thing which came up
and quite expensive in nature for which one has to prepared himself/ herself.

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For determining the total number of BPL families indicates that there are plenty of poor who are
not able to reach who are not able to meet the minimum calorie norms and they are not even able
to meet the cereal required for the healthy living. Therefore the committee has recommended to
revised the current BPL status. The planning commission has included certain indicators such as
malnutrition, BMI and per capita NSDP. It is differing from state to state.

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Rao, V. (1977). “Nutritional Norms by Calorie Intake and Measurement of Poverty”, Bulletin.
Of Tuternational Statistical Institute, Proceedings 41 session.

Sen, A. (1999). Poverty and Famines. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Dandekar, V. M. (1981). Kali Memorial Lecture: On Measurement of Poverty. Economic and

Political Weekly, 16 (30),1241-1250.

Drèze, J. (2010). India: Poverty estimates vs. food entitlements. The Hindu, as printed on
25th February, 2010.

Parsuraman, S.; Raj, G.K., & Fernandez, B. (2003). Listening to People Living in
Poverty. Books for Change: Banglore.

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