What is it they say? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics? Well this is taking it to the proverbial next level.
India's Planning Commission, the powerful cabal of wonks responsible for shaping the government's five year expenditure plans, has took it on their wise heads to define what it means to be poor in this destitute country. And from their veritable mansions in central Delhi, they've come up with some stupendous figures.
In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the panel quoting the Tendulkar Committee's recommendations said the urban poverty line is fixed at an expenditure of Rs 4,284 per month while it is Rs 3,905 a month in rural areas, according to the Hindustan Times. That means a family of five has to pay less than $100 a month for health care, food and education to be considered poor. Those spending more would be classified as "above the poverty line" (APL).
So what does that mean? A tank of gas costs about half of that princely sum, to give you a rough idea. A Big Mac would knock out a whole day's allotted spending. But to put it in terms less relevant to those of us in the TFPLTU category (too far above the poverty line to understand) and more relevant to those in the ICFBPL category (I can't flipping believe the poverty line), here's a bit more from the HT.
Jean Dreze, a member of the National Advisory Council, said the Planning Commission's allowance for health expenditure is less than one rupee a day — barely enough to buy an aspirin.
Another NAC member, Aruna Roy, said the ridiculous limit for the poverty level demonstrated the government's lack of empathy for the poor.
“It is obvious that this extremely low estimated expenditure is a threshold aimed only at artificially reducing the number of persons “below poverty line” so as to reduce government expenditure on the poor,” she said in a signed statement.