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September 1, 2007

Arjun Sengupta report: 836 million Indians live on less than Rs 20 a day

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?

77% Bharat ke log Rs 20 per day par jeete hain… 

One of the major highlights of this Report is the existence and quantification of unorganised or
informal workers, defined as those who do not have employment security, work security and social
security. These workers are engaged not only in the unorganised sector but in the organised sector
as well. This universe of informal workers now constitutes 92 percent of the total workforce. We
have also highlighted, based on an empirical measurement, the high congruence between this
segment of the workforce and 77 percent of the population with a per capita daily consumption of up
to Rs. 20 (in 2004-05) whom we have called “Poor and Vulnerable”. The number of persons belonging
to this group increased from 811 million in 1999-00 to 836 million in 2004-05.

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