five seven eight

578 is the maximum you can spend in a month to be considered poor by the Government and benefit from social benefits and subsidies. That is 20 rs a day! and that is if you live in a city. In a village the amount is 15 a day. Thus spoke the Planning Commission. The commission told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that a city dweller cannot be termed poor if his average monthly spends exceed Rs 31 on rent and conveyance, Rs 18 on education, Rs 25 on medicines or Rs 36.5 on vegetables. So if you spend more than 20 Rs day you are not poor! So according to the Government a mere 25.7% of the urban Indians need food, shelter and social benefits. Anyone spending more than this will be denied subsidized food, accommodation, pensions and medical treatment targeted at the Below Poverty Line population.This is shocking and ludicrous.

We work with the urban poor and have been doing so for the past decade. A hovel in a slum cost nothing less then 1000 rs a month. That is a hole with a tin roof and rickety walls. Now according to above stated statistics a family of five to be considered poor can only spend 31x5 or 155 Rs a month on rent. At that price you will not even find a hole in the ground! As for 36.5 rupees a month on vegetable or just over a rupee a day, I wonder what one would eat! Then why such strange and unrealistic figures. For one it helps claim that poverty in India is getting lower it also helps reduce the spending on social programmes.

But how long can we all play the I see no evil game? True we can boast of having some of the richest people in the world, people who can spend zillions on building a house or who flaunt their riches till it becomes galling and vulgar, but can we honestly deny that a child still dies of malnutrition every 8.7 minutes! How can a self respecting Government turn a blind eye to the stark reality that surrounds us all. And how can we, as supposedly self respecting citizens play along.

What is happening? We have an education system where a mere 33% gives you a certificate. This is apparently done to enhance the literacy figures. Now we have a laughable figure to define the poverty line. This is again apparently done to show that we are not so poor. It is all a game of manipulating figures. No one wants to address the problems and solve them. The rich will get richer and the poor poorer and no one seems to care.

When will my country awake!