Poverty debates and NAC revisited
As news of National Advisory committee members critique that Rs 20 per day (urban areas) and Rs 15 per day (rural areas) per capita is not enough rightly hits the headlines and Supreme court backing them, it is time to visit poverty line debates and underpinning strategies (www.hindustantimes.com/NAC-members...poverty.../Article1-701079.asp), and deepen this useful critique.
UN statistics shows that 42% of India lives below $1 PPP, poorest quintile share in national consumption is a mere 8% , 48% of children under 5 are severely or moderately underweight in 2005 (latest year for which stats are available-http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Data.aspx). Yes re-looking at poverty line is necessary, keeping in mind that the poor should get basic services- food, nutrition, child care, education- of same quality as rich. Any differential access has to stop.
In addition, it has to be kept in mind that specific barriers exist for POOR dalit, (whatever religion), adivasi, women, Muslims, women headed households, slum dwellers, migrant laborers, domestic and other unorganised workers, differently abled, people of diverse sexual and gender identities etc to access basic needs and be free of discrimination. For them not only poverty line needs to be higher, but issues of discrimination need to be addressed.
Further, 51.4% of employed people are living below $1 per day (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/Data.aspx). MNREGS and SGSY (self employment) and SGSRY (SGSY equivalent in urban areas) even if well implemented and without discrimination are not going to solve the problems, unless adequate agriculture land, forest and, coast is left for sustainable livelihood and food/nutritional security, destructive development projects are stopped, MREGS is linked to provision for land for above groups (and land reform is implemented) and there is an income/asset ceiling till poverty and malnutrition is eliminated. PDS should distribute not only rice, wheat and pulses, but also ragi, barely, bajra, maize and millets, which are more nutritious and will support dry land agriculture. Majority of India is under dry land agriculture
With due respect to existing NAC members,
HALF OF THE NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS SHOULD BE PEOPLE FROM MARGINALISED GROUPS LISTED ABOVE, BUT BELOW THE POVERTY LINE. They may be less "educated" and air a few "non politically correct views" (example, how will I marry my daughter) but they are also wise. For over the last one year listening to them and people who work closely with them I have corrected my views.
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