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Poverty Line Drops in India

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
September 2013
Poverty Line Drops in India

How much does it cost to eat a cheap meal in an Indian city? If we didn’t know the answer before, we certainly have a better idea now, thanks to all the journalists who eagerly debunked claims by Congress Party leaders that meals could be purchased for a paltry amount. Defending the government’s definition of poverty, in which only those spending fewer than 33 rupees a day on all their needs in urban areas are considered poor, Congress leader Rasheed Masood claimed that Rs. 5 could get you a meal in Delhi, while Raj Babbar put the figure a little higher in Mumbai.

“In Mumbai, even today I can eat a full meal for 12 rupees. No, not vada pav, but rice, lentils, vegetables and sambar curry,” Babbar said at a news conference in Mumbai.

The Wall Street Journal blog, India Real Time, found a canteen next to St. Xaviers College in Mumbai that sells a full meal for Rs. 35. Can you get anything there for Rs. 12? Yes, a samosa pav.

The government’s definition of poverty allows them to claim that only 22 percent of India’s population lives below the poverty line. That’s 269 million people who spend less than Rs. 33 a day (Rs. 27 in rural areas) for meals, clothing, and shelter. Anyone spending a higher amount, say Rs. 35 a day, should be glad to know that they’re not considered poor. After all, they can afford a samosa pav for lunch and a sandwich for dinner. As for shelter … well, Rasheed Masood might be able to find them a spot on the street for Rs. 1.


Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more.]



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