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The impact of the new economic policy on working class in India


The impact of the new economic policy on working class in India

The poverty lines for the year 1993-94 are Rs 229 and Rs 264 per capita per month for rural and urban areas respectively. However, Rs 228.9 and Rs 264.1 in 1993-94, no longer correspond to the expenditure norms corresponding to 2400 k cal and 2100 k cal as per the definition of poverty line. The price of consumption has been changed significantly. In food items its cost is much higher than that of non-food items. Secondly, due to penetration of urban businessmen or outsiders into the poor locals the price of basic essential items has been increased much more.

Thirdly, because of the crises of availability of money the rural poor either sell themselves partly or fully to their respective dominant persons or sell their livelihood to them to migrate to other parts especially into urban belts for sake of employment as labourers. Fourthly, the relative prices of the basic goods have been increased more than proportionately. For instance, the conditions of housing and transport in urban areas have been deteriorated to the extent of forcing people to live away from their places of work and to spend on transport. Similarly, the rural labour force has to migrate away from their village in order to get work.

In India, poverty is measured only in terms of the calories intake for survival. It does not include other ‘essential expenditures’ of human beings, i.e., clothes, shelter, health and medicine. It doesn’t go to see other ‘necessary expenditures’ of human beings, i.e., education, housing, healthy food, etc. It does not include expenditures on “necessary of efficiency of life”, i.e., recreational, sports, and other miscellaneous expenditure for growing children. Marx was perhaps right when he said that in capitalist world the human being would be equated with machine (Marx, 1844). He would be provided with wages for survival as if the fuel was provided to machine for its survival. Marx’s contention may not be fully true in democratic-industrial nations where the quality of opportunity is granted and where there is much concern about relative deprivation rather than the absolute deprivation, but in India where there is mass poverty and inequality Marx’s viewpoint cannot be ignored. Here in India a man is not even provided with ‘basic necessities of life’ for his survival.

The impact of the new economic policy on working class in India

He cannot think of ‘necessary expenditures’ as his capability is insufficient even to the extent of filling up ‘essential expenditures’ for survival. It is pathetic to note that even though the “essential expenditures” of the existence is not fully covered while measuring the poverty line by the government, millions of people in India are under the clutches of poverty line. According to Planning Commission, people under the BPL were reduced from 25.49 percentage in 1987 to 18.96 per cent in 1993-94 (Government of India, 1995, Economic Survey, 1995-96: 169).

However, as per modified expert group methodology, the Planning Commission in its Ninth Five-Year Plan states the figure of BPL as 38.9 per cent for 1987-88 and 36 per cent for 1993-94 (Government of India, 1999, Ninth Five-Year Plan: 29), Hence, in contrary to its previous claim of reduction of poverty to 19 per cent in 1993- 94, the Planning Commission agreed that the figure was in fact double the previous, that is, 36 per cent in 1993-94. The data indicates that despite non-inclusion of the all ‘essential’, ‘necessary’ and ‘efficiency’ expenditures more than 36 crore Indians are under the BPL. Therefore, if such expenditures were included, perhaps more than 75 crore Indians would have been trapped under the poverty line.

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