India activists in ‘half a dollar a day’ dare

Millions of Indians live below the poverty line

Indian activists have dared the head of the country’s planning body to live on half a dollar a day to test his claim that it is an adequate sum to survive.

Last week the Planning Commission said the amount is “adequate” for a villager to spend on food, education and health.

But prominent campaigners Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander asked the panel chief, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and members to either withdraw the figure or resign.

Officially, 37% of India’s 1.21bn people live below the poverty line.

But there are various estimates of the exact number of poor in India and one suggests the true figure could be as high as 77%.

But the Planning Commission recently told India’s Supreme Court that an individual income of 25 rupees (52 cents) a day would help provide for adequate “private expenditure on food, education and health” in the villages. In the cities, it said, individual earnings of 32 rupees a day (65 cents) were adequate.

Critics say this amount is extremely low and aimed at “artificially” reducing the number of poor. They argue that this will deprive millions of state benefits they would otherwise be entitled to.

Estimate ridiculed

“The right to food campaign challenges you and all the members of the Planning Commission to live on 25 rupees or 32 rupees a day till such time that you are able to explain to the public in simple words the basis of the statement that this amount is ‘normatively adequate’,” an open letter to the commission signed by Ms Roy, Mr Mander and various other activists said.

“If it cannot be explained then the affidavit [filed by the commission stating the figures] should be withdrawn or else you should resign.”

Source: BBC News Read more


As with India, it is with Brazil. The politicians are so out of touch with reality that they need to accept that it can’t be done.

In Brazil the salário minimo (minimum wage) is about $R600 (USD350) per month. This is so out of touch with reality, but there are people who have to survive on this; or less in the case of many rural self employed.

Politicians should be made to live for three months at this level without access to their bank accounts. Then see if they could survive.

Give each member of the Indian Planning Commission 32 rupees (65 cents) a day for a week, and then ask them if they are hungry. The people have to support a family on this, not just one person.

I am sure this happens in many other parts of the world too, all politicians are tarred with the same brush.

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