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Swaminathan defends India's poverty line benchmark

March 20, 2012 - New Delhi

Eminent agriculture scientist M. S. Swaminathan on Tuesday said comprehensive revision of the poverty line was the 'need of the hour'.

Swaminathan said that the current methodology of determining the poverty line was flawed, as it was the most austerely defined poverty line in the world.

"It has to be comprehensively revised. As I said we can't have the stigma of having the most austerely defined poverty line. We are also human beings, part of humanity," he said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that the poverty line bracket was not the only yardstick to determine the level of poverty in the country, but he complimented the planning commission for not excluding the entitlements under government schemes from this bracket.

"To understand it as the only poverty line would be wrong and that's why I am happy that they (planning commission) have clarified, wherever the poverty line has been implemented, it would not effect the entitlements of people," he said.

Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister K. V. Thomas said the steps taken to help the poor would be based on the data provided by the planning commission.

"This data has to be used for all our steps taken to help the poor people, including the food security bill. So, that angle we will take care of, when all the social security measures are being taken," he said.

The Planning Commission released the latest poverty estimates on Monday, saying that poverty in the country has declined by 7.3 percent from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 29.8 percent in 2009-10.

According to the report, the total number of poor in the country has been estimated at 34.47 crore in 2009-10, as against 40.72 crore in 2004-05.


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