the undersigned economists do not consider the official
national poverty lines set by the Planning Commission,
at Rs. 32 and Rs. 26 per capita per day for urban and
rural areas respectively, to be acceptable benchmarks
to measure the extent of poverty in India. In any case,
irrespective of the methodology we adopt to measure
poverty, the number of poor and hungry people in the
country remains unacceptably large.
While academic debates can continue on the appropriate
measure of poverty in India, its extent and whether
it is decreasing over time, we strongly believe that
it is unacceptable and counterproductive to link the
official poverty estimates to basic entitlements of
the people, especially access to food. Official surveys
of nutritional intakes and outcomes indicate that undernutrition
is much more widespread than income poverty, however
defined. It is also widely recognised that the targeted
Public Distribution System introduced since 1997 has
done more harm than good by creating divisions even
among the poor and has led to massive errors of exclusion.
Recent evidence clearly establishes that States which
have moved towards near universalisation of the PDS
have performed much better in increasing offtake and
Restoring the universal PDS appears to us as the best
way forward in combating hunger and poverty. This is
not only feasible within the available fiscal space
of the Union government but must be a policy priority
in the backdrop of high and persistent food price inflation.
Mitra, Former Finance Minister, Government of West
Thomas Isaac, Former Finance Minister, Government
Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Director, Institute for Development
S. K. Thorat, Chairman, Indian Council of Social
Science Research, New Delhi and former Vice Chairman
Prabhat Patnaik, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi and former Vice Chairman Kerala State
Atul Sarma, Former Vice Chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi
University and Member, Finance Commission.
G.S. Bhalla, Emeritus Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi and former Member, Planning
Yoginder K. Alagh, Former Minister of Power, Planning
Science and Technology, Government of India and
Chairman of 1977 Task Force on Poverty Estimation.
S. Subramanian, Professor, Madras Institute of Development
Pulin Nayak, Professor Delhi School of Economics,
Ravi Srivastava, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
Mahendra Dev, Director, Indira Gandhi Institute
for Development Research, Mumbai.
Sheila Bhalla, Professor, Institute for Human Development,
R. S. Deshpande, Director, Institute for Social
and Economic Change, Bengaluru.
C.P. Chandrasekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi.
Madhura Swaminathan, Professor, Indian Statistical
Ritu Dewan, Professor, University of Mumbai.
Surjit Singh, Director, Institute of Development
Sunanda Sen, Emeritus Professor, Jamia Millia University,
K. Nagaraj, Professor, Madras Institute of Development
Alakh Sharma, Director, Institute for Human Development,
Nirmal Kumar Chandra, Professor, Indian Institute
of Management, Kolkata.
Venkatesh Athreya, Professor, MSSRF, Chennai.
Sanjay Reddy, Professor, New School University,
New York, USA.
Jeemol Unni, Director, Institute of Rural Management,
K.P. Kannan, former Director and Professor, Centre
for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram.
Ratna Sudarshan, Director, Institute of Social Studies
Trust, New Delhi.
JBG Tilak, Professor, NUEPA University, New Delhi.
Errol díSouza, Professor, Indian Institute of Management
Sucha Singh Gill, Professor, Punjab University Patiala.
Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University,
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