South Asia

India 'redefines' poverty for new survey

Beggars in the Indian city of Allahabad in January 2010
Image caption Millions of Indians live below the poverty line

India's cabinet has approved a proposal for a survey to identify people living below the poverty line, which also redefines what constitutes poverty.

It will classify the rural poor into "destitutes, manual scavengers and primitive tribal groups".

Urban poor will be defined as those in vulnerable shelters, low-paid jobs and homes headed by women or children.

The survey, to be conducted alongside a caste census later this year, will help identify those who need state aid.

There are various estimates on the exact number of poor in India.

Officially, 37% of India's 1.21bn people live below the poverty line. But one estimate suggests this figure could be as high as 77%.

The last poverty survey was conducted in 2002, but this is the first time that details about caste and religion will be included. The last caste census in India was in 1931.

Under the new system, in rural areas, families owning fixed-line telephones, refrigerators and farmers who have a credit limit of 50,000 rupees ($1,112; £688) will not be counted among India's poorest.

Government staff or those earning 10,000 rupees ($222; £137) a month will also be excluded. Home-owners with three or more rooms will also not be classified as poor.

Officials say the census to identify the people living below the poverty line is "a mammoth task", but it will help them to support those in the greatest need.

On Wednesday, a World Bank report said attempts by the Indian government to combat poverty were not working.

It said aid programmes were beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.

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