Below Poverty Line 

The development planning in India aimed at bringing the weaker section of  the society to the main stream of development. However, the growth models adopted for development in first two decades of planning which were based on 'trickle down' theory, could not provide any relief to the downtrodden people. It is well proved by the recorded population of 75% people living below poverty line in the year 1973-1974. In order to overcome this situation Government of India brought out specific programmes for the poorer section of society since the inception  of Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79). Concerted efforts were made by Government  of India for the eradication of poverty. As a corollary to it, the first official announcement of the Indian Poverty Line was made in the Rajya Sabha on December, 21, 1978 by the then Prime Minister.

            The poverty line, as announced, was based on the rupee value of a specified nutritional requirement. It was stipulated that the calorie standard for a typical individual in rural areas was 2400 calories and 2100 calories in urban areas. Then the cost of the grains that fulfil this normative standard was calculated. This cost was the poverty line. In 1978, it was Rs. 71.30 and Rs. 61.80 per person per month for rural and urban areas respectively. Since then, the Planning Commission recalculates the poverty line every year adjusting it for inflation. In 1999-2000 the poverty line stood at Rs. 454.00 and Rs. 328.00 in rural and urban areas respectively.

            In a society where poverty is so pervasive and visible, the social scientists, particularly economists come forward to understand the nature and magnitude of poverty. In this regard the economists viewed Planning Commission's Poverty Line merely as a 'Starvation Line'. According to them food is not the only requirement of a human being. Even in terms of nutrition, the estimates of the Planning Commission are way off. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition, under the aegis of Indian Council of Medical Research, the chief authority of nutritional standard in India, the typical rural Indian requires 2900 calories and Indian urbanite require 2400 calories per day per head respectively. Furthermore, the Planning Commission did not mention the minimum requirements of protein, mineral or vitamins. Based on these analogies the Economists emphasized upon stipulating the minimum needs that make up the basic standard of living.


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