Government study fixes poverty line at Rs 66 for cities and Rs 35 for villages

NEW DELHI: Here is a new set of official statistics that can escalate the politically contentious debate on what constitutes the poverty line. 

If average monthly consumption expenditure is taken as the benchmark of what an individual needs to survive, the poverty line would be Rs 66.10 for urban areas and Rs 35.10 for rural regions, while about 65% of the population will be below this cut-off.

The figures, based on the 66th round of the National Sample Survey for 2009-10, provide a more realistic marker for estimating both the poverty line and the population below it than the Planning Commission's calculation of Rs 28.65 per capita per day for cities and 22.42 for rural areas.

The rural and urban all-India averages for monthly expenditure are Rs 1,054 and Rs 1,984 per person, respectively, and if these are projected on the expenditure-population curve, the population below this works out to 64.47% (rural) and 66.70% (urban).

Official sources said the exercise was carried out as part of a study and is based on NSSO data largely available in the public domain. While the government is revising its parameters, the monthly averages might be a useful means of estimating where to draw the poverty line.

With almost all states showing more than 60% of populations below the monthly expenditure averages, the oft-repeated claim that 70% of India lives on less than $2 a day has a ring of truth in it.


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