ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Amitabh Kundu

Avoidable Controversy on Multidimensional Poverty

Given three alternate approaches to projecting poverty figures— (i) ignoring the impact of COVID-19, (ii) including it fully, and (iii) excluding only the peak impact—NITI Aayog choosing the data set that excludes the peak months of COVID-19 in 2020, as has been done in the National Family Health Survey-5, seems appropriate. However, any attempt to explain poverty reduction in a year in terms of developments or programmatic interventions in that year is unlikely to go unchallenged.

 

 

Mobility in India

The changing trends in migration in rural and urban India over the past four decades are analysed, considering males and females separately, using the data from both the population census and National Sample Survey. It reviews the migration pattern brought out by the Economic Survey 2017, employing rail traffic data and age cohort-based analysis. The migration trends for socio-economically vulnerable populations comprising the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Muslim population are analysed to bring out how their access to urban and metropolitan space has declined over time. Probing into the COVID-19-induced migration, which resulted in a massive dislocation of population, suggests that it has left no significant mark on the long-term trend of migration. The paper argues that euphemisms such as “India is on the move” or “growing regionalism and the risks of pandemics would subvert mobility” are unwarranted. The migration pattern is unlikely to exhibit sudden long-term shifts as it is determined by disparities in economic and social well-being and will continue to be so in the coming decades.

Multidimensional Poverty as an Instrument of Programmatic Intervention

Conceptual and operational issues for constructing multidimensional poverty indices in India are discussed and the possibilities of its application for strategic interventions are examined in this article. It argues that questions concerning the selection of indicators, data sources, weightages, threshold limits, etc, have to be addressed through a consultative process, keeping it above the short-term politics of the regime.

Atmanirbharta in Statistics and the Thrust on ‘Make in India’

International agencies usually make country comparisons based on statistical indicators founded on globally accepted concepts and definitions. The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has questioned the adoption of international standards in three key sectors and has suggested developing standards that produce statistical indicators in tune with the national narrative. This is unlikely to help the country’s statistical system. 

Data Discrepancies between National Surveys and Official Reporting

The growing discrepancies between the survey and official data have become a serious issue in recent years. This has allowed researchers, administrators, policymakers, and individuals to take opposite positions on policies, programme or even the political regimes. It is in such a context that this article looks at some of the data anomalies in institutionalised surveys and official sources.

Disastrous Decade for Data

In recent years, the Indian official data has been challenged for many reasons, most of them arising out of the perception that the government is reluctant to release unfavourable data. These doubts have been exacerbated by the controversy posed by the debate around Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register, and National Register of Citizens and the weakening of established institutions like the National Statistical Commission. The COVID-19 pandemic has further upset the data collection so that the first phase of the decennial population census and the proposed NPR exercise now stand postponed. Questions on credibility of official data and the pandemic-induced problems have come at a time when technology offers solutions to data collection, processing and dissemination. The initiatives launched by the government to improve the statistical system utilise these possibilities.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act has generated a political churn in the country. Tagging the updating of the National Population Register, a base document to identify “citizens,” to the forthcoming 2021 population and housing census has raised strong objections from several corners, including some state governments, necessitating the home minister to make a statement in Parliament on 14 March 2020. Linking the census and theNPR raises many questions—technical and operational. It is important to go beyond politics to address these concerns.

 

Atal Pension Yojana

The Atal Pension Yojana—an old-age pension scheme for informal sector workers—is a major initiative to ensure fixed monthly pension for the elderly. This is guaranteed by the government through the provisioning of assured rates of interest during the accumulation and distribution period. An analysis of the benefit patterns and recommendations to make the scheme more attractive for the informal sector workers is presented.

Housing for the Urban Poor?

Recent modifications in the credit linked subsidy scheme—an important vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)—have raised the income limits for eligibility of loans, increased the amount of subsidised loans, relaxed norms with regard to built-up area, and importantly, have included the middle-income group, diluting its core agenda of being “pro-poor.” While this would boost the housing sector, there is risk that subsidies will be cornered by real estate developers, private builders, and the urban middle class. The planners must view this development with concern.