Rs 27 per day: India's new rural poverty line

New poverty estimate claims fastest ever decline in poverty during UPA's regime

Published: Tuesday 23 July 2013

there were 326 million poor in 2004-05; in 2011-12 the number fell to 216 million, registering a decline of 110 million, says Planning Commission The Planning Commission has declared the new poverty line for rural and urban areas. It is Rs 27 a day for rural areas and Rs 30 a day for urban areas.

Just a year ago when the Commission suggested a poverty line of Rs 22 a day for rural areas, there was a national outrage over it. Subsequently, government scrapped the poverty estimate based on a survey carried out in 2009. The current estimate is based on survey carried out in 2011-12.

269 million Indians are poor

According to the new estimate, some 216.5 million people in rural areas are poor while 52.8 million in urban areas are poor. This means out of the country's total population, 269 million people survive on Rs 27-30 a day.

Going by the press note released on Tuesday by the Planning Commission, poverty level has shown steepest ever fall in recent history. Since 2004-05, coinciding with the UPA's ascent to power, 138 million people have escaped the poverty trap. In rural areas the dip in poverty is stark: there were 326 million poor in 2004-05; in 2011-12 the number fell to 216 million—a decline of 110 million.

The political message in the new estimate is hard to miss. “It can be concluded that the rate of decline in the poverty ratio during the most recent seven-year period—2004-05 to 2011-12—was about three times of that experienced in the 11-year period between 1993-94 and 2004-05,” says the report. The earlier period of comparison coincides with the Opposition BJP's tenure in government.

Poorest states

Chhattisgarh is the poorest state in the country with close to 40 per cent of its population being below the poverty line.  However, the geography of poverty remains the same. Seven states – Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – account for 61 per cent of India's total poor. These states traditionally host India's poorest.


Poverty estimates for 2011-12

Measuring acute poverty in the Developing World

What do national poverty lines tell us about global poverty?

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