At the launch of food security scheme ‘Dilli Anna Shri Yojna’ in Delhi recently, chief minister Sheila Dikshit commented that `20 a day (`600/month) is sufficient to provide for basic needs of a poor family of five. Reacting strongly, the BJP said that the launch of the food security scheme has been introduced to lure voters, a brazen ‘cash for vote’ formula. However, are the figures suggested realistic, keeping in mind the rising cost of living? Speak Up finds out...
Suggesting `20/day figure makes a mockery of poor people
First of all, the Rs32 per day figure that the Planning Commission earlier came up with as sufficient enough for sustenance in an urban area is itself absurd. Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s figure of Rs20/day is all the more ridiculous.
Given the state of rising prices nowadays, it is important that even a poor person should get enough to live a life of dignity. Suggesting such a figure is nothing but making mockery of poor people. If the same government, for example, is prescribing wages over Rs100/day under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA), how can it suggest Rs20 per day sufficient enough for a family of five? How do they expect a family of five to live on Rs600 per month? I am surprised on what basis they have come up with this figure.
The whole cash transfer scheme announced by the government is a big question in itself. How will the subsidies that are guaranteed today take care of the rising prices in the future?
Activist, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat
In Delhi, per capita consumption expenses is `980/person/day
I think Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and her few friends must first try living with the same amount on an experimental basis in order to prove to the country that it is possible for a family of five to sustain on Rs20/day. As per the statistics provided by National Sample Survey Organisation, Department of Statistics, on consumption data for an urban city like New Delhi, the per capita consumption expenses for poor people comes to around Rs980 per person, per month, which is around Rs33 per day, per person.
I don’t think even the people living below poverty line are so silly to accept the Rs20 per day figure for a family of five through any government scheme. When you come out with a figure for any scheme to tackle poverty, you are dealing with reality and not populist interest. If Sheila Dikshit has really given this comment, it is really irresponsible and outrageous.
—Aneeta Gokhale Beninger, Professor, Sustainable Development and Planning & Executive Director, Centre for Development Studies Activities
Rising above poverty must be an individual’s responsibility
The government’s version is based on figures given by Suresh Tendulkar Committee Report on poverty, which I see as appropriate. I don’t doubt the basic minimum figure suggested by Sheila Dikshit, which is based on the report. You have to understand the rational reasoning behind it.
The Rs600 per month or Rs20 per day, for a family of five is the lowest benchmark below which if anyone’s income falls, the government will give all the subsidies. This benchmark figure can be compared with dole (a grant of government funds to the unemployed or poor), which is given in the western countries. Though it is not expected for anyone to survive on the prescribed figure, it is just considered as the basic survival line for the government to decide on who falls under or is above the line and eligible for the subsidies.
If the government starts giving subsidies to everybody, it will be an incentive for people, an indulgence where the government will be encouraging people not to work. Everyone is supposed to work and earn a living. Rising above poverty must be an individual’s responsibility.
—Bhanu Kale, Writer & Editor, Antarnaad
Govt has not considered the rising cost of living
I don’t think any family of five can live a quality life on Rs20 per day as commented by Sheila Dikshit during the launch of food security scheme recently in Delhi. How can Rs600/month be sufficient for a five-member family? Even if you take the bare minimum cost of living, I don’t agree that Rs600/month is sufficient for sustenance for a family of five. I am surprised that such a comment was even made. Even a basic two-time meal per person today costs minimum Rs50. I don’t think the government has taken into consideration the rising cost of living. I don’t know what logic was used to come up with the mentioned figure.
—Deepak Walokar, Director, Karve Institute of Social Service
Around 23 lakh people in Delhi failed to cross poverty line
Defining poverty is always a contentious issue. As economy grows, while general prosperity increases, the level of bare sustenance defined by the government will seem absurd to everybody reading this paper. However, note that under the Tendulkar Committee estimates, the poverty line monthly per capita expenditure for all items was fixed at Rs1040.3 for urban Delhi as per 2009-10 prices. Around 14% i.e. 23 lakh people in Delhi failed to clear even this minimum level. This in itself is shocking statistics that the government should be addressing.
—Sumita Kale, Chief Economist, Indicus Analytics