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Congress terms NITI Aayog report on poverty reduction as ‘jumla’

New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday termed as “jumla” a Niti Aayog report that claimed 24.82 crore people have been moved out of multi-dimensional poverty in nine years to 2022-23, and alleged that the government was hatching a “conspiracy” to exclude these people from the safety net of welfare schemes and free ration.

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The Congress’ attack came a day after the report said as many as 24.82 crore people moved out of multidimensional poverty in nine years to 2022-23, with Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh registering the largest decline.

According to the NITI discussion paper, multidimensional poverty in India declined from 29.17 per cent in 2013-14 to 11.28 per cent in 2022-23, showing a reduction of 17.89 percentage points, with about 24.82 crore people moving out of the bracket during this period.

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Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress spokesperson and social media department head Supriya Shrinate said the claim that 24.84 crore people have been moved out of multidimensional poverty was the “latest jumla in a list of jumlas” that will be seen up until election.

“The truth cannot be further away from this and the reality is how NITI Aayog has arrived at these numbers — it has changed the established criteria of how poverty is calculated and neither the World Bank nor the IMF have cited any third party stories on it,” she said.

“It was a report prepared by the NITI Aayog, a survey done by them and reported by them but the reality on the ground is extremely stark,” she said, adding that the figures were nothing but “blatant lies of the BJP ecosystem”.

The survey essentially establishes there is no unemployment on the ground when the reality is that there are high prices, unemployment, income inequality, lower wages and extreme poverty.

“Reality of these numbers is that there is a conspiracy being hatched against the poor of this country, because very soon close to 25 crore people who have now been declared ‘not poor’ wiil be taken out of the safety net that the government offers to the poor.

“They will no longer get subsidies, no longer get free ration, they will be taken out of the safety net that any welfare sate offers to the poor people that is the conspiracy we are worried about,” Shrinate said.

She said the Modi government has released a “new balloon” and it is being peddled that in the last nine years, 24.82 crore Indians have been freed from poverty, but in reality this is a “huge conspiracy” against the poor.

This claim of the government is contrary to the ground reality with four major problems in it, she claimed.

If the number of poor has decreased, then why is consumption declining, she asked.

“If poverty has fallen to 11.7 per cent, that is, only 15 crore people are poor, then why is the government giving free ration to 80 crore people,” she further asked.

Shrinate also questioned as to why no third party is supporting this claim of NITI Aayog, contending that the World Bank and the IMF would have supported these numbers.

She also said that when NITI Aayog has established standards for measuring poverty then why were such standards chosen which are based on the government’s flagship schemes.

Shrinate said the UPA government brought 27 crore people out of poverty and it was the World Bank that confirmed the third party report on this figure and considered it correct.

“But Modi government is blowing its own trumpet,” she added.

Hitting out at the NITI Aayog report, Shrinate said it is the “biggest proof” of the failures of the Modi government in the last 10 years as instead of finding solutions to poverty, hunger, economic inequalities, unemployment and inflation, the Centre is “resorting to lies”.

According to NITI Aayog, the national multidimensional poverty measures simultaneous deprivations across three equally weighted dimensions of health, education, and standard of living that are represented by 12 sustainable development goals-aligned indicators.

These include nutrition, child and adolescent mortality, maternal health, years of schooling, school attendance, cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets, and bank accounts. The National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) by Niti Aayog uses the Alkire Foster methodology to assess the decline in poverty rates. However, the National MPI covers 12 indicators while global MPI covers 10 indicators.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a post on X had reacted to the report, saying: “Very encouraging, reflecting our commitment towards furthering inclusive growth and focussing on transformative changes to our economy. We will continue to work towards all-round development and to ensure a prosperous future for every Indian.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Siasat staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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