Sunday, April 18, 2010

372 million : India's poor

372 million Indians will be categorised as poor in the proposed National Food Security Act, the Planning Commission said on Saturday. The new poverty estimate — based on access to food, education and health — will not change the urban poverty figure but for rural India, the number of poor would increase from 28.3 per cent to 41.8 per cent. It would mean that additional 97 million people would get subsidised food grains, once the proposed law is implemented, increasing the government’s food subsidy bill by around Rs 20,000 crore, to Rs 75,000 crore.

The proposed law guarantees 25 kg of food grains only to below poverty line families. As of now, 275 million poor Indians get up to 35 kg in subsidised food grains from the government-run fair price shops. The Right to Food campaign rejected the decision, saying “entitlement to food should not be linked with poverty estimation”. “We insist access to food should be universal,” said campaigner Anuradha Talwar.