MGNREGA inefficiently managed, finds CAG


Issue Date: 

2013-4-23

Government spent Rs. 1,26,961 crore but hardly 30 per cent works are completed

Exactly five years after the employment guarantee programme’s pan-India roll out, the programme seems to have lost favour with the rural poor. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) office submitted its latest audit report on the programme to Parliament on April 23. The audit shows around 20 per cent decline in employment generation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the last two years.

The rural employment programme guarantees 100 days of manual work if a rural household demands it. Government first implemented the programme in 200 districts in 2006. On April 1, 2008, it was extended to all rural districts in the country. This is the second such audit by CAG. The recent audit covered implementation during 2007-12 in 182 districts.

The latest audit report brings out the usual concerns associated with the programme: forgery in job cards, late payment of wages, declining job demand and non-completion of works.

Going by the extracts of the report tabled in Parliament, CAG found that lack of close monitoring of the programme has led to widespread irregularities. Many states have not been able to spend the allocated funds under the programme. Interestingly, states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar having large rural population have spent the least.

Under MGNREGA, around 13 million works were taken up at an expense of Rs 1,26,961 crore, most of them related to water and soil conservation, useful to small and marginal farmers. But, the CAG report finds, only 30 per cent of these works have been completed.

Cover Story Related Articles:

 

#India- Average daily calorie intake in rural India falls 5%: Govt #WTFnews


PTI : New Delhi, Thu Mar 07 2013, 

Poverty

 

The average daily intake of calories of the rural population, as per the NSSO data, dropped by 4.9 per cent or 106 kilocalories from 1993-94 to 2004-05, Parliament was informed today.

“As per NSSO report based on the survey conducted by it in July 2004-June 2005, the average per capita calorie in-take at all India level in rural areas is 2,047 kilo calories as compared to 2,153 kilo calories based on the results of similar survey undertaken during July 1993-June 1994,” Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Kumar Jena told in a written reply to Lok Sabha.

This shows a drop of 106 kilocalories and percentage decrease of 4.9 per cent in per capita calorie intake in rural areas over 2004-05, he said.

Jena said the government has taken a number of steps to increase opportunities for livelihood/wage employment and food security of rural people so as to enable them to have access to availability of food and thus better intake of calories.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Swarnajayanti Gramin Swarojgar Yojana are some of the prominent wage employment generation schemes focussing at rural population in the country, he said.

Targeted Public Distribution System, Annapurna Scheme for Senior Citizens, Mid-Day Meal are amongst the schemes targeted for food security, Jena said.

 

#India- Sainath plans online ‘People’s archive of rural India’


January 14, 2013 01:20 IST | The Hindu

B. S. Satish Kumar

P Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu, at an interaction in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

P Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor, The Hindu, at an interaction in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: G.P. Sampath Kumar

This online platform will have audio, video, print and still photos on rural life and issues

Did you know that there is a community called Khalasi in Kerala, which has specialised in hydraulics for millenniums? This community has traditionally helped in moving newly-constructed ships from the dry docks to the sea without damaging the vessel’s base. Then there is a little known tribe in Assam known as Apathenis, whose members plough the land with their feet as they believe that it is a crime to use implements against Mother Earth. These are just a couple of facts on the diversity and complexity of life in rural India that are set to find a place in the “People’s archive of rural India,”– an online platform being launched by noted development journalist and The HinduRural Affairs Editor P. Sainath. The platform, which is expected to commence operations on an experimental basis from June, is an effort by the Magsaysay award-winning journalist who has reported from the length and breadth of rural India to document for posterity the myriad forms of labour and production in rural India.

Disclosing this at an interaction programme jointly organised in Bangalore on Sunday by Avadhimag.com, Abhinava and Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi, Mr. Sainath said the documentation in the proposed archive would be in four different mediums — audio, video, print and still photos, of which his own extensive collection will form an important part.

Pointing out that rural India has both great beauty and extreme ugliness, he said both faces would be presented in the proposed archive. He showed excerpts from documentaries on a potter in Bengal, three different schools of Kalaripayattu from Kerala, a dance form from Kumaon, and the lives of Kutchi potters from Gujarat who have made Dharavi in Mumbai their home. “This is not just documentary, but documentary journalism,” he said. The focus in the documentaries would be on the forms of labour rather than the actual artistic product, and moreover, the artist/artisan/rural producer would speak directly to the video camera. He said 15 small cameras had been given to “video volunteers” to capture whatever they think was interesting. He also announced that any person who had an idea or a subject that suited the proposed archive could contribute by filming/recording it.

“You can shoot even with your cell phones or still cameras that have video option. Only thing is that you have to get in touch with us to know our guidelines. If you do not want to take up filming or writing, you can even share the idea with us and we will do the rest,” he said. Explaining why he zeroed in on the idea of launching such an archive, especially for rural India, he said: “Rural India is the most complex part of the planet as it has 833 million people, 400 living languages besides innumerable number of dialects and occupations.”

Mr. Sainath said he chose the online platform mode instead of a physical archive as the latter was a costly option. The archive will not accept any direct funding by the government or corporate houses.

 

 

Tripura Opposes Direct Cash Transfer #AAdhaar #UID


AGARTALA | DEC 07, 2012, Outlook
Tripura today opposed Centre’s plan for direct cash transfer to the bank accounts of the customers of fair price shop for giving subsidy on the plea that it would cripple the existing Public Distribution System (PDS).

“I have written a letter to the Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister K V Thomas to withdraw the proposal for direct subsidy cash transfer and also clarify in detail how the new system would help the poor,” state Food and Civil Supply minister Manik De said.

The new system would be introduced in 51 districts of the country and the four districts of Tripura were also included among them.

De said the state government has received a communication from the Centre that all the card holders of ration shops should make their bank accounts for transferring the cash subsidy.

“It is difficult to get new bank accounts within January and also include their Aadhar (UID) numbers and send it to the Centre. In rural areas the banks are inadequate in number. The new system would leave us into inconveniences”, he told reporters.

 

#India-Appalling condition of primary healthcare services


R. PRASAD, The Hindu Dec 6,2012

BELIEVE IT OR NOT: In Delhi, the rates of correct diagnosis and correct treatment were 22 per cent, and nearly 46 per cent respectively. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf.
The HinduBELIEVE IT OR NOT: In Delhi, the rates of correct diagnosis and correct treatment were 22 per cent, and nearly 46 per cent respectively. Photo: Mohammed Yousuf.

TOPICS

health

Suffering from unstable angina, asthma or dysentery? The chances of correct diagnosis and treatment in both rural and urban areas by private and public care providers are dismal.

The shocking state of primary healthcare services in both private and public clinics in urban (Delhi) and rural (villages in Madhya Pradesh) areas has been highlighted in a scientifically carried out study published a few days ago in Health Affairs.

What is all the more appalling is that the 305 healthcare providers tested in urban and rural India were presented with nearly uncomplicated conditions — unstable angina, asthma or dysentery — and for which there exist well established medical protocols with clear triage, management and treatment checklists developed by the government’s National Rural Health Mission. These conditions are also common in both urban and rural areas.

In rural Madhya Pradesh, correct treatment protocol was followed only about 30 per cent of the time, and unnecessary or even “harmful” treatment was prescribed about 42 per cent of the time.

That only 14 per cent of care providers “asked about pain radiation” in the case of unstable angina is indeed a cause for grave concern. Pain radiation is a typical and clear indication of unstable angina. Little wonder that some of the incorrect diagnosis for unstable angina included “gastrointestinal or weather-related problems.” Less than a third of other vital sign checks were completed in these “patients.” The results are almost similar in the case of asthma and dysentery.

Of the care providers who accounted for “80 per cent of all primary care visits from households,” only 11 per cent of rural care providers had any medical education and 67 per cent had no medical qualification whatsoever.

But it is no different in the case of Delhi. The rate of correct diagnosis was as low as 22 per cent, and at nearly 46 per cent, the rate of correct treatment was lower than the halfway mark. Even the adherence to the standard and essential care checklist was just about 34 per cent. Although private sector care providers followed the essential care checklist, the likelihood of their prescribing the correct treatment was “significantly lower.”

Dispel the notion that care providers in the private sector in Delhi are better qualified. Only 52 per cent of care providers studied in both private and public sectors had any medical degrees. 41 private providers and 23 public providers were studied.

The wrong diagnosis or failure to follow the essential care checklist does not come as a surprise as care providers in the 58 villages in Madhya Pradesh spent just about 3.6 minutes, while it was 5.4 minutes in the case of Delhi.

“In both the rural and urban setting, we found only small differences between trained and untrained doctors in adherence to the checklist and no differences in the likelihood of providers’ making a correct diagnosis or providing the correct treatment,” the paper states. “In fact, the evidence suggests that untrained private-sector providers were better in adhering to the checklist, and no worse in their treatment protocols, than their public-sector counterparts.”

What makes the study unique is that it used 22 standardised patients (recruited from local community) who interacted with 305 healthcare providers in urban and rural India.

These “patients” were trained for 150 hours to present their illness consistently to multiple care providers and to accurately recall interactions with the care providers.

The use of adult standardised patients is considered as the “gold standard in quality measurement.” The use of such “patients” avoids recall bias and does not in any way change the behaviour of doctors “treating” them. It also helps the authors to estimate the case detection rate and make comparisons between doctors.

In all likelihood, the results from the study may hold true for many other common conditions in most parts of the country — both urban and rural areas and private and public care providers.

 

Keywords: primary healthc

 

Delhi High Court tells MCI to Fix rural health care course syllabus in six weeks #goodnews


 

English: National Rural Health Mission of India

English: National Rural Health Mission of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

R. RAMACHANDRAN

 

 

In High Court, Health Ministry puts the blame on Council for delay

The Delhi High Court has given the Medical Council of India (MCI) six weeks to finalise the curriculum for the new 3-1/2 year course, ‘Bachelor of Rural Health Care (BRHC)’. The course was proposed by the Health Ministry to meet the acute shortage of (MBBS) qualified doctors in rural areas due to which rural population was being deprived of basic, primary health care.

The court issued the order on Thursday while hearing a contempt case filed by public health specialist Meenakshi Gautham. In her plea filed on February 27, she sought contempt proceedings against the Union Health Secretary and the MCI Chairperson for not having complied with the court’s November 10, 2010 order, wherein they had been asked to initiate measures to introduce the BRHC course by March 2011.

The court had served contempt notices on the Health Secretary and the MCI and had given four weeks’ time to file their responses (see The Hindu, February 28). The contemnors had filed their affidavits in March/April and Thursday’s hearing was following their submissions.

The November 2010 order was issued following several hearings on a 2009 writ petition by Ms. Gautham and the Garhwal Community and Development Society (GCDS). The plea sought speedy introduction of the short-term course for rural health care as per the resolution of the 9th Conference of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare in November 2007 and the recommendation of the 2007 Task Force on Medical Education Reforms for National Rural Health Mission. The order had directed the MCI to finalise the syllabus by January 2011 and the Ministry to begin the course by March 2011. Their failure to comply with the order had prompted Ms. Gautham to file the contempt petition.

DRAFT CURRICULUM READY

In its affidavit, the Ministry has stated that it was ready with a draft curriculum in October 2010 itself and this had been sent to the MCI on October 28, 2010, for its comments and final approval. But the MCI has not been able to give it a final shape even now.

Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the petitioner, said the MCI had stated in its affidavit that it would finalise the course by April 2012 but it was yet to do so even four months after that. In fact, counsel for the Centre also stated that the Ministry was still waiting for the MCI to finalise the syllabus.

REASON FOR DELAY

At Thursday’s hearing, the MCI said the delay was due to the matter being considered by yet another committee of the Council. The Bench, led by Justice Rajiv Shakdher, rejected this argument and ordered the MCI to finalise the curriculum within six weeks, failing which the MCI Secretary should be personally present. The next hearing is slated for October 18.

 

60% rural India lives on less than Rs 35 a day


May 3, 2012, PTI

Around 60 per cent of India’s rural population lives on less than Rs 35 a day and nearly as many in cities live on Rs 66 a day, reveals a government survey on income and expenditure.

“In terms of average per capita daily expenditure, it comes out to be about Rs 35 in rural and Rs 66 in urban India.

Around 60 per cent of the population live with these expenditures or less in rural and urban areas,” said Director General of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) J Dash in his preface to the report.

According to the 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010, all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was Rs 1,054 and urban areas Rs 1,984.

The survey also pointed out that 10 per cent of the population at the lowest rung in rural areas lives on Rs 15 a day, while in urban areas the figure is only a shade better at Rs 20 day.

“The poorest 10 per cent of India’s rural population had an average MPCE of Rs 453. The poorest 10 per cent of the urban population had an average MPCE of Rs 599″, it said.

The NSSO survey also revealed that average MPCE in rural areas was lowest in Bihar and Chhattisgarh at around Rs 780 followed by Orissa and Jharkhand at Rs 820.

Among other states, Kerala has the highest rural MPCE at 1,835 followed by Punjab and Haryana at Rs 1,649 and Rs 1,510 respectively. The the highest urban MCPE was in Maharashtra at Rs 2,437 followed by Kerala at Rs 2,413 and Haryana at Rs 2,321. It was lowest in Bihar at Rs 1,238. The median level of MCPE was Rs 895 in rural and Rs 1,502 in urban India, indicating consumption level of majority of population.

According to the study, food was estimated to account about 57 per cent of the value of the average rural Indian household consumption during 2009-10 whereas it was 44 per cent in cities. — PTI

Government survey

n The 66th round of National Sample Survey (NSS) carried out between July 2009 and June 2010

n It says all India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) in rural areas was Rs 1,054 and urban areas Rs 1,984

n The survey also pointed out 10 per cent of the population at the lowest rung in rural areas lives on Rs 15 a day, while in urban areas the figure is only a shade better at Rs 20 day

Doctors signed into rural work, Maharashtra can’t place them


Medical students

Medical students (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anuradha Mascarenhas : Pune, Thu May 03 2012,

The general reluctance shown by doctors to serve in rural areas has all but disappeared. In Maharashtra, so many medical students have agreed that there are now more willing doctors than the state can accommodate. Maharashtra has 1,500 posts of medical officer vacant; for these there are 3,000 applications, says Dr G S Chinde, director of health services.

It is not that the new crop of students has suddenly become more sensitive to the requirement of rural service. It’s just that should they want to skip a year’s stint in villages, the bond money has become unaffordable.

Maharashtra’s 14 medical colleges yield 2,000 MBBS graduates every year, of whom around 700 enrol in a postgraduate course. After MBBS, a medical graduate is required to sign a bond with the government to serve in rural areas for a year. If they opt to skip this, they need to pay Rs 10 lakh. The payment was Rs 1 lakh initially, raised to Rs 5 lakh in 2004 and doubled in 2010.

From students who signed a bond of Rs 5 lakh, the Directorate of Medical Education and Research has collected barely Rs 50 lakh, compared to Rs 3 crore collected in three years from students who had signed for Rs 1 lakh.

Dr Pravin Shingare, state director of medical education and research, said since the hike to Rs 10 lakh, over 4,000 doctors have enrolled for rural service.

The bond is higher for postgraduate and super-specialty doctors, Rs 50 lakh and Rs 2 crore. Now, the authorities are wondering where to place these highly qualified doctors.

“We are scrutinising the applications so that the doctor’s specialisation can be suitably utilised,” an official said. The delay in doing this has led to several students writing to the DMER that they have not got any response to their applications. Shingare said he has got more than 30 such letters and will write to the health department to start filling the vacancies. “The DMER has in fact listed 400 vacancies at Employees State Insurance Corporation hospitals.”

The health department is also trying to fill vacancies under NRHM, which needs 400 school-level health medical officers.

Walking the Corporate Plunder Line- How to Beat Poverty in India


by P. SAINATH in Counterpunch

One Tendulkar makes the big scores. The other wrecks the averages. The Planning Commission clearly prefers Suresh to Sachin. Using Professor Tendulkar’s methodology, it declares that there’s been another massive fall in poverty. Yes, another (‘more dramatic in the rural areas’). “Record Fall in Poverty” reads one headline. The record is in how many times you’ve seen the same headline over the years. And how many times poverty has collapsed, only to bounce back when the math is done differently.

And so, a mere 29.9 per cent of India’s population is now below the official poverty line (BPL). The figure was 37.2 per cent in 2004-05. The ‘line’ is another story in itself, of course. But on surface, rural poverty has declined by eight percentage points to log in at 33.8 per cent. That’s down from 41.8 per cent in 2004-05. And urban poverty fell by 4.8 percentage points from 25.7  to 20.9 per cent in the same period.  Millions have been dragged above the poverty line, without knowing it.

Media amnesia fogs the  “lowest-ever” figures, though. These are not the ‘lowest-ever.’

“Kill me, I say,” said Prof. Madhu Dandavate  in 1996, chuckling. “I just doubled poverty in your country today.”  What that fine old gentleman had really done, as deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission,  was to jettison the bogus methodology peddled by that body before he came to head it the same year.  Even minor changes in methodology or poverty line can produce dramatically differing estimates.

The fraud he undid was “an exercise” bringing poverty down to 19 per cent in 1993-94. And that, from 25.5 per cent in 1987-88. These were the “preliminary results of a Planning Commission exercise based on National Sample Survey data.” (Economic & Political Weekly, Jan. 27, 1996).  Now if these figures were true, then poverty has risen ever since.  And remember, highlighting that historic fall was an honest Finance Minister. The never-tell-a-lie Dr. Manmohan Singh.

One business daily ran a hilarious ‘exclusive’ on this at the time. Poverty falls to record low of 19 per cent, ‘government officials say.’  This was the best news since independence. But the modest officials remained anonymous, knowing how stupid they’d look. In the present era, they hold press conferences to flaunt their fraud.

The “lowest ever at 19 per cent” fraud was buried  in the ruins of the April ’96 polls. So was the government of the day. The ‘estimate’ was not heard of again. Now we have the 29.9 per cent avatar. Surely that’s a rise of 10.9 percentage points in 16 years? Or just another methodological fiddle.

However, the new Planning Commission numbers have achieved one thing. They’ve  united most of Parliament on the issue. Members from all parties have blasted the ‘estimates’  and called for explanations.

There’s also the Tendulkar report’s own fiddles. As Dr. Madhura Swaminathan points out, the Committee dumped the calorie norms of “2100 kcal per day for urban areas and 2400 kcal for rural areas.” It switched to “a single norm of 1800 kcal per day.” And did so citing an “FAO norm.”  As Dr. Swaminathan observed: “the standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation for energy requirements are for “minimum dietary energy requirements” or MDER. That is,  “the amount of energy needed for light or sedentary activity.” And she cites an FAO example of such  activity. “…a male office worker in urban areas who only occasionally engages in physically demanding activities during or outside working hours.”

As Dr. Swaminathan asks: “Can we assume that a head load worker who carries heavy sacks through the day is engaged in light activity?” (The Hindu Feb. 5, 2010).

The media rarely mention that there are other methodologies for measuring  poverty on offer. Also set in motion by this same government. The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) saw BPL Indians as making up 77 per cent of the population. The N.C. Saxena-headed BPL Expert group placed it at around 50  per cent.  Like the Tendulkar Committee, these two were also set up by government.  While differing wildly, all three pegged rural poverty at a higher level than government did. Meanwhile, we will have many more committees on the same issue until one of them gives this government the report it wants. The one it can get away with. (The many inquiries on farm suicides exemplify this).

That the Planning Commission thought they could slip the present bunkum by sets a new benchmark for –  and marriage of  –  arrogance and incompetence.  First, they sparked outrage with their affidavit in the Supreme Court. There they defended a BPL cut-off line of Rs. 26 a day (rural) and Rs. 32 (urban).  Now they hope to get by with numbers of Rs. 22.42 a day (rural) and Rs. 28.35 a day (urban).

The same year the government and planning commission shot themselves in both feet in 1996, a leading Delhi think tank joined in. It came up with the ‘biggest ever study’ done on poverty in the country. This covered over 30,000 households and queried respondents across more than 300 parameters. So said its famous chief at a meeting in Bhopal.

This stunned the journalists in the audience. Till then, they had been doing what most journalists do at most seminars. Sleeping in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner. The veteran beside me came alive, startled. “Did he mean they asked those households over 300 questions? My God! Thirty years in this line and the biggest interview I ever did had nine. That was with my boss’s best friend. And my last question was ‘may I go now’?”  We did suggest to the famous economist that battered with 300 questions, his respondents were more likely to die of fatigue than of poverty. A senior aide of the think tank chief took the mike to explain why we were wrong. We sent two investigators to each household, he said. Which made sense, of course: one to hold the respondent down physically, twisting his arm, while the other asked him 300 questions.

Now to the queue of BPL, APL, IPL, et al, may I add my own modest contribution? This is the CPL,  or Corporate Plunder Line. This embraces the corporate world and other very well-off or  ‘high net worth individuals.’  We have no money for a universal PDS. Or  even for a shrunken food security bill. We’ve cut millions  from net spending on rural employment.  We lag horribly in human development indicators, hunger indexes and nutritional surveys. Food prices keep rising and decent jobs get fewer.

Yet, BPL numbers keep shrinking. The CPL numbers, however, keep expanding. The CPL concept is anchored in the “Statement of Revenue Foregone”  section of successive union budgets. Since 2005-06, for instance, the union government has written off vast sums  in corporate income tax, including in the present budget. The very one in which it slashes millions  from the MNREGS. Throw in concessions on customs and excise duties and the corporate waivers in this year’s budget soar up.

True, there are things covered in excise and customs that also affect larger sections, like fuel, for instance. But mostly, they benefit the corporate world and the very rich. In just this budget and the last one, we’ve written off millions for diamonds, gold and jewellery in customs duties. That sort of money buys a lot of food security. But CPL trumps BPL every time. The same is true of write-offs on things like machinery. In theory, there’s a lot that should benefit everybody: like the equipment hospitals import. In practice, most Indians will never enter the 5-star hospitals that cash in on these benefits.

The total write-off on these three heads in eight years since 2005-06: Half a trillion US dollars.

P. SAINATH is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, where this piece appears, and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. He can be reached at: psainath@vsnl.com. 

Original Article here

About 70 percent of India is poor: NAC member


New Delhi: Debunking the government’s claim that the number of poor in India has come down, a top adviser has claimed that around 70 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion population is poor, and stressed the need for a multi-dimensional assessment of poverty.

“The government claim that poverty has come down is not valid… there is a need for a multi-dimensional assessment of poverty as around 70 percent of the population is poor,” National Advisory Council member N.C. Saxena said in an interview.

According to Saxena, the various poverty estimates the government relies on to assess the impact of developmental schemes are faulty as they fail to factor in the lack of nutritional diet, sanitation, drinking water, healthcare and educational facilities available to the people.

The former bureaucrat, who now is part of the NAC that reports to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, claimed that not only the National Sample Survey Organisation data is faulty, the ongoing Socio-Economic and Caste Census, which is expected to throw up the latest poverty estimates, is highly flawed.

“The NSSO data is unreliable and the SECC is highly flawed,” said Saxena.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) was set up as an interface with civil society. The NAC provides policy and legislative inputs to the government with special focus on social policy and the rights of disadvantaged groups.

After the government faced flak over its latest poverty estimates, according to which anyone earning over Rs 28 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 per day in rural areas is not poor, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a multi-layered approach is required to assess poverty as the widely accepted Tendulkar committee report “is not all inclusive”.

The government now plans to set up another expert panel to devise a new methodology to assess poverty levels in the country, said the prime minister.

The government recently revised its poverty estimates from earlier Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs.26 per day in rural areas based on 2011 prices, to the current estimate which is based on 2009 prices.

Using the Tendulkar panel report, the Planning Commission pegged poverty at 37.5 percent of the population.

Saxena said in reality out of about 200 centrally sponsored schemes, only 5 or 6 are linked to the poverty estimates, pegged at 37.5 percent by the Planning Commission.

Having a realistic assessment of poverty in not only crucial for the government to ensure that around Rs 80,000 crore that it spends on various welfare schemes annually reaches only the genuinely poor, it is also important for the United Progressive Alliance which hopes to roll out the ambitious National Food Security Bill, which aims to provide subsidised rations to around 65 percent of the 1.2 billion population some time next year.

IANS