Ramesh attacks MPs questioning plan panel's definition of poor
Hyderabad: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday took a dig at MPs who criticised the methodology adopted by the Tendulkar Committee for redefining the term poor, saying members raising the issue were probably only aware of Sachin Tendulkar, not Suresh Tendulkar.
"Those Members of Parliament may probably have thought it is Sachin Tendulkar. They did not know Suresh Tendulkar," Ramesh told reporters when asked several MPs have criticised the methodology adopted by the Tendulkar Committe set up in the year 2005 by the Planning Commission to suggest criteria for determining poverty line and poverty estimation.
As per the methodology adopted by the Tendulkar Committee for estimation of poverty, besides calorie intake, the spending on health and education is also factored in.
Coming to the rescue of Planning Commission's Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was the target of attack both inside and outside Parliament after the panel put out the poverty numbers, Ramesh claimed the rate of poverty reduction after 2004 has been double the rate of poverty reduction in previous 10 years.
As per the Commission's estimates, the poverty ratio has been pegged at 29.8 percent in 2009-10, down from 37.2 percent in 2004-05.
These are based on the daily per-capita consumption of Rs 28.65 in cities and Rs 22.42 in rural areas in 2009.
Updating this formula by linking it to consumer price index for 2011, the Planning Commission arrived at the estimate that people spending more than Rs 32 a day in urban areas and Rs 26 a day in villages will not be eligible for the benefits of schemes meant for the BPL.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had even demanded Ahluwalia's removal from the post of deputy chairman of the Planning Commission after the new estimate redefining poverty line surfaced.
Taking on the BJP, Left and other MPs on the issue, he asked why they didn’t question the methodology adopted by the Lakadawala Committee, which submitted the report during the United Front Government supported by the Left parties.
"Lakdawala Committee was set up in the early 1990s on the poverty line and gave its report when the United Front was in power with CPM and CPI being part of it. There was no criticism of the Lakdawala Committee report at that point of time," Ramesh who was flanked by Ahluwalia, said.
He said the BJP government also did not make any statement on the Lakdawala Committee report.
"There was not one statement from Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh or any of these people who emerged as champions of poverty issue," he said.
The Lakdawala Committee of 1993 made its recommendation mainly considering the expenditure of people on calorific consumption, which was pegged at 2400 per person per day in rural and 2100 per person per day in urban areas.
Targeting the Left parties, Ramesh said the methodology adopted by Suresh Tendulkar Committee was not questioned by the Left parties when they supported UPA-1.
"Lakdawala and Suresh Tendulkar are two of the most respected economists who are not associated with any political parties. Their reports were accepted when they were submitted. Now suddenly there is a whole questioning of the very nature in which we are measuring poverty," he said.