India says poverty begins below 50 cents a day

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

NEW DELHI, September 21, 2011 (AFP) – India’s economic planning body has said any villager earning more than 50 cents a day is not poor and should not qualify for government welfare — a figure condemned by experts. Those with a daily income of 25 rupees (50 cents) in villages and 32 rupees (65 cents) in cities should not be eligible for government assistance schemes, the Planning Commission told India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Anyone earning above those levels can afford to pay for “food, education and health,” the commission said in an affidavit.

The planning body filed the submission in response to a Supreme Court request for poverty line figures to be updated in the face of near double-digit inflation. India’s poor have been specially hit hard by soaring food prices.

While India boasts a burgeoning class of urban rich thanks to a fast-growing economy, hundreds of millions of Indians face a lack of food, clean water and proper housing.

The proposed poverty line figure is far higher than the current one set at around 19 rupees per day for people in cities and 15 rupees a day in rural areas.

The World Bank global poverty line is at $1.25 a day.

India’s proposed poverty fig