News / Asia

    India Rethinks Poverty Benchmark

    Children play at a slum in Allahabad, India, Oct. 3, 2011.
    Children play at a slum in Allahabad, India, Oct. 3, 2011.
    Anjana Pasricha

    The Indian government will not limit social benefits only to those who make less than 50 cents a day in villages and 66 cents a day in cities, which many had feared would be the result of a controversial poverty benchmark proposed last month. The new poverty line triggered an outcry and raised concerns that millions of poor people would be excluded from government welfare programs.    

    Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Monday that beneficiaries of federal welfare programs targeted at the poor will not be restricted by the poverty line set by the planning commission. He called it a significant development.   

    “The Planning Commission and the Ministry of Rural Development will now work out an agreed methodology with which the states are also comfortable, which will ensure that once the households are ranked according to deprivation, the selection takes place in a manner that no poor and deprived household is excluded from the purview of central government programs," said Ramesh. "This is a major step forward.”  

    The announcement was made following a massive outcry over the norms on poverty set by the planning commission. The commission had said that people who spend more than half a dollar a day on food, education and health in rural areas and 66 cents a day in urban areas are not poor. That is about half the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.25 a day.  

    Activists, several economists and opposition members cried foul. They said that the threshold set was not even at subsistence level and left out millions who should be counted among the poor.

    The norms embarrassed the government, and were even criticized by some members of the ruling Congress Party. Activists accused the government of trying to reduce the number of beneficiaries of the ambitious social welfare programs it has announced.

    Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia agreed that the norms were set at a low level.  

    “It is clearly a rock bottom level of existence and we know very well that everybody at that level of existence is under significant stress. In fact, we know that even above that level, households are vulnerable,” said Ahluwalia.

    Ahluwalia clarified that the norms had been based on the assumption that health and education would be provided free of cost to the poor. He said that has not happened in many states across the country.

    “In my view, it is a shame that the public service system for health and education has not delivered these services. In my view, the solution is spend more money on health, spend more money on education,” said Ahluwalia.

    The Planning Commission says poverty levels in the country have fallen over the past decade as the economy expands. But the numbers are still huge: About one third of India’s population - or roughly 400 million people - are estimated to be poor.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora