-The Hindustan Times
The government on Thursday put the controversial poverty estimation in a deep freeze by appointing a new expert group to recommend a new estimation methodology aimed at linking government subsidies to poor.
The group to be led by C Rangarajan, head of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council and having three others members is expected to submit its report in nine months, minister of planning Ashwini Kumar told reporters.
However, not even a single member of the group is from the Planning Commission, which is mandated to estimate the number of poor in India.
“It is aimed at undermining the plan panel's expertise,” said a senior plan panel functionary.
The reason for debunking the Tendulkar Committee methodology, which resulted in abysmally low poverty line of R28 per capita daily expenditure in cities, was that aspirations of people was changing fast.
Kumar said : “People’s perspective about poverty has changed…We don’t send a letter through 20 paisa post card these days rather we call from our mobile phones to communicate. Everybody wears Reebok shoe and people ride scooter instead of cycles,” he said.
The minister said the group was being constituted to take note of various points of views and perspectives expressed in public domain with a need to revisit poverty estimates and related methodologies.
Many academicians outside the government had described the plan panel’s poverty estimates as not in sync with present day realities.
Kumar said that the expert group will also recommend how the estimates of poverty should be linked to eligibility and entitlements for government's social sector schemes and programmes.