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14 May 2024 : The Hindu Editorial Notes PDF

1. Declining poverty ratio: a continuing trend

Topic: GS2 – Social Justice – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.
Context
  • The article discusses trends in poverty and inequality based on the 2022-23 Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) by the NSSO.
  • It highlights debates among researchers regarding data comparability, measurement complexities, and methodological changes over time.

 Introduction:

  • The release of the Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) for 2022-23 by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) prompted discussions among researchers on poverty and inequality trends.
  • Studies analysed poverty ratios and inequality estimates based on the data, addressing comparability issues and measurement complexities.

Trends in Poverty and Inequality:

  • Poverty estimates based on the HCES fact sheet indicate a significant decline from 29.5% in 2011-12 to 10% in 2022-23, according to the Rangarajan and Tendulkar Committee’s poverty lines.
  • Inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, decreased marginally between 2011-12 and 2022-23, particularly in urban areas.
 Poverty measurement in India:
  • Tendulkar Committee’s Poverty Line: The Tendulkar Committee, formed in 2005, introduced a new methodology to estimate poverty in India. It recommended poverty lines of ₹33 per capita per day in urban areas and ₹27 per capita per day in rural areas for 2011-12, based on the consumption expenditure needed to meet minimum calorie requirements.
  • Rangarajan Committee’s Poverty Line: The Rangarajan Committee, appointed by the Government of India in 2012, revised the poverty line methodology. It recommended a monthly per capita consumption expenditure of ₹972 for urban areas and ₹781 for rural areas as the poverty line for 2011-12, using a uniform consumption basket for both.
  • Gini Coefficient: The Gini coefficient is a measure of income or wealth inequality within a population, with values ranging from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality). It quantifies the extent to which the distribution of income or wealth among individuals or households deviates from a perfectly equal distribution.

Issues with Data Collection and Analysis:

  • Absence of unit-level data in the HCES fact sheet led to provisional estimates, although poverty numbers based on averages from deciles may still provide meaningful insights.
  • Changes in the reference or recall period of data collection over time aimed at improving consumption reporting but pose challenges in comparability.
  • Methodological changes in data collection, such as coverage of more items and multiple visits, enhance estimation accuracy but hinder comparability over time.

Measurement Challenges:

  • The Tendulkar Committee emphasised the inadequacy of a calorie norm-based poverty line, leading to discussions on defining new consumption baskets.
  • The poverty line, based on private consumption expenditure, does not fully capture public expenditure benefits, highlighting the need for better assessment methods.
  • Imputed values for public expenditure items in the HCES 2022-23 data showed only a slight increase in average monthly per capita expenditure, indicating the limitations of current measurement approaches.

Conclusion:

  • Despite the decline in poverty and inequality, challenges persist in accurately measuring and comparing trends over time.
  • The complex interplay of methodological changes, data collection variations, and measurement issues underscores the need for robust evaluation frameworks.
  • Addressing these challenges is crucial for informed policy-making and effective poverty alleviation strategies in India.
 Issues with poverty estimation in India:
Issues with Poverty Estimation in India:

●  Poverty Line Methodology: Controversies surrounding the determination of the poverty line, including debates over consumption patterns, calorie intake, and price indices.

●  Data Accuracy: Reliance on outdated or incomplete data sources, leading to inaccuracies in estimating poverty levels.

●  Regional Disparities: Failure to account for regional variations in living costs, income levels, and socio-economic factors, resulting in disparities in poverty estimates.

●  Multidimensional Poverty: Limited focus on multidimensional aspects of poverty, such as education, health, and access to basic services, leading to incomplete assessments.

●  Urban Poverty: Challenges in capturing the complexity of urban poverty dynamics, including informal employment, housing insecurity, and social exclusion.

Way Forward for Poverty Estimation in India:

Revised Methodology: Adoption of more robust and transparent methodologies for poverty estimation, incorporating multidimensional indicators and regional nuances.

●  Data Improvement: Enhancing data collection methods, quality, and coverage through regular surveys, data integration, and technology-driven approaches.

●  Stakeholder Consultation: Engaging stakeholders, including experts, policymakers, and civil society, in the process of defining poverty measures and thresholds.

●  Dynamic Monitoring: Implementing real-time monitoring systems to track changes in poverty levels and respond effectively with targeted interventions.

Inclusive Policies: Designing and implementing poverty alleviation programs that address multidimensional aspects of poverty and target vulnerable populations effectively.

●  International Best Practices: Learning from and adapting international best practices in poverty estimation and measurement to improve accuracy and relevance in the Indian context.

PYQ:

Q.1 Though there have been several different estimates of poverty in India, all indicate reduction in poverty levels over time. Do you agree? Critically examine with reference to urban and rural poverty indicators. (200 words/12.5m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2015)

Q.2 “The incidence and intensity of poverty are more important in determining poverty based on income alone”. In this context analyse the latest United Nations Multidimensional Poverty Index Report. (250 words/15m) (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2020)

Practice Question:  Discuss the challenges and implications of analysing poverty and inequality trends based on the 2022-23 Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) data. (150 Words /10 marks)

2. Stabilising India-Nepal ties in changing times

Topic: GS2 – International Relations – Bilateral Relations
Context
  • The article delves into Nepal’s current political and economic turbulence, reflecting on its transition to democracy and the resurgence of pro-China sentiments.
  • It highlights India’s strategic concerns amidst these changes, emphasising the need for nuanced diplomacy and developmental engagement to navigate the complexities of the India-Nepal relationship and uphold regional stability.

 

Political and Economic Uncertainty in Nepal

  • Nepal currently grapples with a sense of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and uncertainty, primarily due to the political and economic environment.
  • The transition to a full-fledged democracy with credible political institutions seems never-ending, raising questions about the direction of the nation.
  • Concerns arise regarding the rushed implementation of a secular federal democratic republic through the Constitution, lacking thorough debate and amidst ongoing challenges.
  • Debates emerge about reverting to Nepal’s Hindu identity, lost during negotiations with Maoists, and the potential restoration of the monarchy to safeguard democracy.

Attention on Nepal in Indian Foreign Policy

  • Nepal’s political landscape garners attention from the incoming government in India, especially in the context of managing foreign policy priorities, particularly with China.
  • Recent changes in Nepal’s coalition partners, particularly the shift towards pro-China leadership, attract scrutiny and speculation about India’s response.
  • China’s overt influence in Nepal, highlighted by diplomatic visits and agreements like the Belt and Road Initiative, raises concerns about India’s diminishing sway.
  • The revival of far-left and far-right forces in Nepal, both perceived as pro-China and anti-India, complicates regional dynamics.

Historical Context and Security Implications

  • Nepal’s history, including its transition from a Hindu kingdom to a secular republic post-Maoist insurgency, influences its current political landscape.
  • Past instability facilitated cross-border activities detrimental to India’s security, prompting discreet cooperation between the two nations.
  • Unlike before, China now actively opposes Indian interests in Nepal, potentially supporting cross-border terrorism against India.

India’s Approach and Potential Responses

  • India maintains a cautious approach, avoiding interference in Nepal’s internal affairs despite pressure and temptations to intervene.
  • Anticipating calls for a return to Hindu identity or the restoration of monarchy, India faces challenges in providing careful responses without causing confusion.
  • Proposing a holistic development roadmap for Nepal could offer an alternative to Chinese influence, focusing on sustainable development and cross-party consensus.
  • High-level Indian attention and investment could foster optimism, stability, and mutually beneficial projects while addressing Nepal’s developmental needs.
  • Diplomatic style and substance play crucial roles in shaping India-Nepal relations, with India bearing responsibility in overcoming historical power dynamics.
Practice Question:  In light of recent political shifts in Nepal and its implications for regional dynamics, critically analyse the challenges and opportunities for India’s foreign policy in the Himalayan region. Discuss potential strategies for India to maintain influence and address security concerns amidst Nepal’s evolving political landscape. (250 Words /15 marks)

 

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