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836 million Indians live on less than Rs 20 a day


Rupashree Nanda,CNN-IBN
Aug 29, 2007 at 12:50pm IST

New Delhi: An overwhelming 836 million people in India live on a per capita consumption of less than Rs 20 a day, according to the findings of the Arjun Sengupta report on the Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihood in the Unorganised Sector. The report is based on government data for the period between 1993-94 and 2004-05.

While the numbers rose by a staggering 100 million, the numbers of the new rich has also grown by 93 million.

"Our survey is very scientific. The other poverty estimates looked at the absolute poor only but we look at different categories of poor,” Chairman, National Commission for Enterprises in Unorganised Sector, Arjun Sengupta said.

So, who are the ones who have actually benefitted from the boom in the economic growth of the country?

The middle class and the rich grew from 162 million to 253 million while the neo rich of 91 million.

The middle class grew from 15.5 per cent to 19.3 per cent but the extreme poor have also benefited (274 to 237 million) – 43 million of them to be precise. Their per capita consumption has gone up from Rs 9 to Rs 12.

“The rich tend to hide their consumption. So if you account for that, they are actually richer than the report reflects. This again reflects the fact that the gap between the rich and poor is even wider,” Sengupta explained.

One is classified as absolutely poor if the per capita consumption is less than Rs 9 a day. However, if the per capita consumption is Rs 13 a day, then the individual is above the poverty line. So, the definitions of poverty are sometimes difficult to understand.

The justification for economic reforms was supposed to be the trickle down effect but for those who live in trying conditions 10 years of economic reforms seems to have made little difference. Is it any wonder that those leaders who are seen to be reformers can never win the popular vote?

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