One of the “achievements” often touted post- liberalization by any of the ruling parties has been the reduction of poverty levels to a “mere” 26%- Mohan Guruswamy and Ronald Abraham question the fundamentals and conclude that the current definition of poverty line is based on insufficient parameters and should more realistically be termed as starvation line.
In addition to the poverty line, a proper definition of who is poor should also include ‘access parameters’ that measure access to drinking water, shelter etc. To sum of, listed below are basic needs and the percentage of households that do not have access to them:37.7% of Indian households do not have access to a nearby water source
49% do not have a proper shelter
69.5% do not have access to suitable toilets
85.2 of Indian villages do not have a secondary school
43% of Indian villages do not have an all- weather road connecting them
The realistic poverty line that we propose along with these access parameters will provide a more real, more inclusive and more clear picture of poverty in India…. A person is poor in India if he or she has a monthly per capita expenditure lesser than Rs. 840 OR does not have access to either drinking water; proper shelter; sanitation; quality secondary education; or an all – weather road with public transport.
In recent years, one of the stark contrasts that one observes are the impressive, majestic building of multi nationals and Indian companies in the cities and the cracked, yellowed buildings for public good like schools that are almost falling apart- one just has to travel a few kilometers on the outskirts of any city from Gurgaon to Chennai to see that.
To me, the proposed definition of poverty line accounts better for the visible poverty that one sees all around in India- in the decaying filth of the cities and villages.