25 June, 2021

Has Poverty Declined?

Yes, if the statisticians desist from using different sets of figures to argue otherwise

Prashant Panjiar
Has Poverty Declined?
Economic reforms is no longer news. All the finance ministers, and their political patrons, have jumped on the bandwagon. The difference between the men and the boys is in their zeal and implementation—the intentions are unquestioned.

Meanwhile, there are the nattering types. They have raised various objections against the reforms; most importantly, that such reforms have largely bypassed the poor. Bis-mil-muflis, or "I begin in the name of the poor", is their rallying cry and official data, in the form of the National Sample Surveys (nss), is their thinly concealed weapon. Started in the early '50s, the nss surveys have provided useful updates on the status of the poor in India. The 1999 nss data showed that poverty declined by as much as 10 percentage points, from 36 to 26 per cent, during the economic reform period. But they aren't satisfied; there are mumblings about how the methodology was questionable and other reasons best, and only, understood by rarefied statisticians.

The application of first principles leads one to ask the simple question—what is the...

More from Surjit S. Bhalla

Latest Magazine

June 28, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section