Target: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Goal: Raise the minimum standards for poverty in India to allow a larger number of India’s impoverished to receive assistance
Efforts to raise the minimum standards for poverty among India’s sprawling lower class have been met with opposition, creating an unrealistic model of economic prosperity and limiting prospects for financial aid from organizations such as the World Bank. Urge the government to adjust the minimum poverty standards to give greater numbers of India’s poor access to subsidized health and food programs.
Currently, as defined by the Indian government, citizens are classified as below the poverty line when they earn less than 27 rupees (45 cents) in rural areas, or 33 rupees (55 cents) in urban areas, per day. This figure is substantially less than the already-low cutoff of the $1.25 a day used by the World Bank. These arbitrary and shockingly meager standards hamstring economists charged with developing policies that could lift India’s poorest citizens from grinding poverty.
Former chairman of the prime minister’s economic council, Chakravarthi Rangarajan, has proposed a new standard that would classify nearly 100 million more Indians as living in poverty. Rangarajan wants to increase the minimums to 37 rupees (73 cents) per day in cities and 47 rupees (78 cents) in rural areas. The new standard would raise the incidence of poverty from 21.9 percent to 29.5 percent.
Tell the Indian government to establish realistic poverty standards that can be used to accurately gauge the country’s level of poverty and establish productive policies to help India’s poorest citizens.
Dear Prime Minister Modi,
Though India’s overall poverty rate has decreased steadily over the past several years, much progress remains to be seen. Included in any workable forecast of a nation’s economy is an accurate estimate of that country’s population living in poverty. In India, this estimate has traditionally been undervalued in an effort to project a more “optimistic” estimate of economic growth. However, this undervaluation hampers the formulation of effective policies.
A proposal by Chakravarthi Rangarajan would lower the minimum bar for poverty by almost 40 percent. Currently, an Indian citizen living in a city and making less than 45 cents a day is considered below the poverty line. Rangarajan’s proposal would raise that figure to almost 78 cents. Such a reformulation would allow greater numbers of India’s poor to have access to subsidized health and food programs.
The traditionally low standards have been due, in part, to local legislators wanting to show positive economic growth despite a lack of upward mobility among the lowest class. Such policies are effective on paper, but do nothing to develop the dignity of India’s poor.
I urge you to advocate on behalf of Rangarajan’s proposal to more accurately estimate the number of India’s poverty-stricken population.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Paulrudd via Wikimedia Commons