CPM: Govt manipulating poverty data


Prime VIP
New Delhi, June 23

The CPM today accused the Government of manipulating poverty estimates statistically to arrive at the number of beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System.

Lashing out at Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, senior party leader Brinda Karat said the Government’s basis for food security was not scientific assessment of actual poverty but the amount of resources it could allocate to foot the subsidy bill.

“One day, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman says one crore people would be covered. The other day he says 50 lakh would be covered. The estimate keeps changing depending on whether there is money to fund higher subsidy. You can leave Montek Singh Ahluwalia for 365 days and there will be 365 different estimates,” Brinda lashed out at the Plan panel chief, slamming the concept of targeting for PDS at a time when an ever increasing number of people in the unorganised sector are without guaranteed income.

The party Politburo member added that UN’s Millennium Development Goal progress card up to 2010 showed that UPA’s policies were flawed and they needed to be urgently reversed. The report talks grim of India in respect of hunger.

“The UN report card is a red alert for us. We only hope the Government looks at it with the seriousness it deserves. Most disturbing is the issue of food security. We immediately need a food security law for everyone and we also need correct poverty estimates,” said the CPM Rajya Sabha member, accusing the UPA of manipulating official statistics pertaining to poverty.

She asked if the definition of slums had been changed to represent a lower proportion of Indians living in slums; this at a time when data from the National Sample Survey Organisation does not suggest such a decline.

The UN report card released today mentions lower slum population for India than some economists believe there is.