It is unrealistic to expect any person to subsist on Rs 32 per day in these times. That, however, was not the question the apex court asked of the Planning Commission. The commission’s remit was much narrower and its now infamous affidavit on the poverty issue reflected this.
The issue at hand is that moral outrage and policymaking should not be clubbed together.
Two prominent National Advisory Council members, Aruna Royand Harsh Mander, have lashed out at Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on this subject.
The government is, in any case, committed to helping the poor and politically there are no barriers to this goal. But misplaced rage at what are merely technical exercises is clearly out of place. Such estimates are not the last word in what needs to be done, but are important ingredients in the policymaking exercise.