Why do we really want to know who is poor?

In the shrill rhetoric surrounding the “counting of the poor” in India, the question that is not being asked is – Why count the poor? or more specifically Why do we want to know who is poor? What is anybody doing with this information? There are several answers to these questions – politicians, Governments, the World Bank want to know how many poor are there so that they can show that their policies or programmes have reduced the number of poor (nobody really wants to show how their programmes have increased the number of poor!). There is clearly a certain kind of politics at play here in how “poor” are defined. Another reason to define the poor is (one hopes) to allocate resources (read finances) in a just manner so that inequity can be reduced. Again, the smaller the number less competition for the limited resources. In this counting game nothing changes for people on the ground who are deprived of basic “roti, kapda aur makaan”. In fact in today’s economic climate, things are getting worse and poverty is degenerating into severe deprivation.  Isn’t it time therefore to move away from this numbers game? Politicians and international agencies are not going to move away from the numbers game – it is too inconvenient. In this situation, what is the alternative?

The second part of the question and in my mind the REAL question is – Why do we need to know who is poor? or how many are poor? Related to this is an even more important question – How do we define “poor”? What are the criteria? The multidimensionality of being poor has been addressed for the first time by the MPI developed by Alkirie et al (http://www.ophi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/OPHI-MPI-Brief.pdf) based on Sen’s ideas on the multidimensionality of poverty. The next step to build on this “more multifaceted
and more accurate tool for measuring poverty” is to qualify the quantitative values of the health indicators. If poverty is to be eradicated and people are to move from deprivation to a life of dignity and well being in India one of the first things that needs to be addressed is the idea of nutritional adequacy in the measurement of malnutrition. Knowing that somebody is anaemic, or has low body weight, or is stunted is not enough. We need to know why and understand the role of environmental, social and cultural factors in defining nutritional adequacy and how these factors can be used in creating an enabling environment to ensure nutritional adequacy.    

Closer home the effective use of multidimensionality of poverty has been done through the Kudumbasree Model in Kerala and this was fully conceptualised and implemented in Kerala as early as 1998 (indiagovernance.gov.in/files/kudumbashree-casestudy.doc). For some reason the economists and planners at the Planning Commission and others working in the area of “poverty alleviation” have not included it in the ongoing debate on poverty indices and lines. The HDI performance of Kerala State should be proof enough of the effectiveness of this Model.

Unless the politics of counting is replaced by the real work of defining poverty, deprivation and well being in a multidimensional, linked and realistic manner AND we are able to answer the question WHY? Why are we trying to count the poor? this meaningless exercise will go nowhere and we will continue to drive more and more people deeper and deeper into an abysmal existence while we argue over the theoretical inconsequentialities.

Advertisements

17 responses to “Why do we really want to know who is poor?

  • Manie

    What’s up to every single one, it’s actually a good for me to visit this web
    site, it includes important Information.

  • Leanna

    Heya! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems with
    hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a few months of hard
    work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  • http://lesfaubourgsdesmeandres.com

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching
    for low-maintenance garden

  • Waldo

    Hi, I want to subscribe for this weblog to take latest updates, so
    where can i do it please assist.

    • rayalseemadiaries

      Go to the tab that says +Follow at the bottom right corner of the blog post, click on it and put your email id in. You will get an email everytime I post.

  • Sherryl

    Hi there! I realize this is sort of off-topic however I needed to ask.

    Does operating a well-established blog such as yours require a massive
    amount work? I am brand new to blogging but I do write in my journal on a daily
    basis. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience and feelings online.

    Please let me know if you have any recommendations or tips
    for brand new aspiring bloggers. Appreciate it!

    • rayalseemadiaries

      Well I write when I feel strongly about something and therefore don’t see it as “work”. I find it cathartic. You could quite easily use your journal entries and write about issues that you feel need to be discussed. Just go with the flow. Good luck!

  • Jana

    Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go
    for a paid option? There are so many options out there that
    I’m totally confused .. Any ideas? Thanks a lot!

    • rayalseemadiaries

      I am a novice myself so my only tip is write with passion and keep it simple. I find wordpress easy to navigate and reasonably intuitive. So start with it and then think about a paid option if you find this limiting for your needs. Good luck!

  • sagfe13.com

    Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my web site thus i got
    here to go back the favor?.I am trying to to find issues to enhance my web site!I assume its
    adequate to use some of your concepts!!

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/115230267828466608461/posts/2acdfv2Wigr

    If some one needs to be updated with latest technologies
    after that he must be visit this site and be up to date everyday.

  • thehumanrevolution.net

    Thanks for the marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed
    reading it, you can be a great author. I will make
    certain to bookmark your blog and will often come
    back someday. I want to encourage one to continue your great work, have a nice afternoon!

  • Garnet

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot.
    I’m hoping to give one thing again and help others such
    as you aided me.

  • Zack

    Good information. Lucky me I found your website by chance (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: