-The Hindustan Times
The UPA government’s economic policies have resulted in record reduction of poverty over the last two years, with the individual’s monthly expenditure rising by around 18% per annum, the highest since 1987, government data released a week before the Parliament’s monsoon session claimed.
The government’s National Sample Survey Organisation released the provisional data of the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey for 2011-12 on Wednesday. The study is the most crucial input for the Planning Commission to compute the extent of poverty in the country.
Pranob Sen, former chief statistician of India and the panel’s principal advisor, said the increase in per capita expenditure shows that poverty came down by 2 percentage points every year between 2009-10 and 2011-12, the highest since Independence.
The average per-annum poverty reduction from Independence till 2004-05 — when the UPA came to power — was around 0.8%. It fell at the rate of 1.21% per annum between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the plan panel's press note on poverty estimation — released in March 2012 — said.
If one goes by the latest consumer expenditure survey data, around 24% of 1.2 billion Indians should be categorised as poor. The average per capita expenditure — after adjusting the inflation — rose by about 4.5% per annum, especially in rural India, Sen said.
The average per capita expenditure in 2004-05 was R558 for rural India and R1,052 for urban India. It increased to R1,281 for rural India and R2,401 for urban India in 2011-12, the NSSO said on Wednesday.
The increase in rural expenditure can be attributed to the higher selling price of agriculture produce. Although the per capita expenditure has more than doubled in urban India, experts say it could be because of inflationary impact.
On the flip side, NSSO data revealed that the gap between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% Indians had widened. While the difference in monthly expenditure between them was 5.6 times in 2004-05, it rose to 6.9 times in 2011-12 in rural India. In urban areas, it was 9.8 and 10.9 times respectively.