Ramesh attacks MPs questioning definition of poor

Rural Development minister took a dig at MPs who criticized the methodology adopted by the Tendulkar Committee for redefining the term poor.

Hyderabad: Rural Development Minister Jairam
Ramesh on Saturday took a dig at MPs who criticized 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 spend
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 per cent in 2009-10, down from 37.2 per
cent 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 didn`t they 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.