Will Congress’ Nyay help tackle poverty?

New Delhi: The Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay) promised by the Congress ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections could make a difference to its fortunes in most of what have been identified as aspirational districts. The party claims it to be the “ultimate cure” for poverty in the country.

Nyay – the minimum income guarantee scheme announced by Congress President Rahul Gandhi – promises an income support of Rs 6,000 a month to every family among the poorest 20 per cent.

The poverty line has been defined differently over the years and a large section of the poor live in 115 aspirational districts of the country

Identification of poor is done by the state governments based on information from Below Poverty Line (BPL) censuses, of which the latest is the Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (SECC 2011).

The government has been following various formulae to track poverty. After observers criticised measures of poverty based on Tendulkar Poverty Line as being too low, the Rangarajan Committee was appointed which recommended higher rural and urban poverty lines.

As per Rangarajan report, poverty line is estimated as monthly per capita income of Rs. 1407 in urban areas and Rs. 972 in rural areas.

Based on Suresh Tendulkar panel’s recommendations in 2011-12, poverty line figure was Rs 27 per day for rural India and Rs 33 per day for urban India.

The promised income support under Nyay is much more than the official definitions of poverty line.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, had come under fire of opposition parties in 2012 for the new poverty line figures he had announced. The new definition categorised people living on less than Rs 28 per day in urban and Rs 22.50 in rural areas as poor.

Ahluwalia had defended the Planning Commission definition.

He said the Supreme Court had asked it how they calculate the poverty line and they had given factual explanation.