04 December, 2020
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The Poverty Of Statistics

Did the previous regime consciously 'edit out' five crore Indians eligible for BPL benefits?

Jitender Gupta
The Poverty Of Statistics
Was there a deliberate attempt by the Vajpayee-led government to scale down the poverty ratio and downsize the number of people who fall under the below poverty line (BPL) category? According to information accessed by the rural development ministry from its own records, there was a well-planned downscaling of those who fitted the BPL criterion, particularly in rural India. The ministry estimates that over 500 lakh poor who should have been on the list were excluded and thus denied access to subsidised rations and development schemes. With the new government's focus on rural India, a revised and more realistic estimate of the poor will soon be drawn up. Rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh confirmed this to Outlook: "We'll get a fresh survey conducted and a new BPL list will be made."

How did the previous government manage to exclude five crore of its poor? Trimming the number of people eligible for BPL benefits began immediately after the NDA government announced in 2000 that national poverty levels had declined significantly—from 37 per cent in...


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