Every day, through scorching summers and chilly winters, Himmat pedals his bicycle rickshaw through New Delhi’s crowded streets, earning barely enough to feed his family. But to India’s government he is not poor — not even close.
The 5,000 rupees ($110) he earns a month pays for a tiny room with a single light bulb and no running water for his family of four. After buying just enough food to keep his family from starving, there is nothing left for medicine, new clothes for his children or savings.
Still, Himmat is way above India’s poverty line.
Earlier this month, India’s Planning Commission, which helps sets economic policy, told the Supreme Court that the poverty line for the nation’s cities was 578 rupees ($12.75) per person a month — or 2,312 rupees ($51.38) for Himmat’s family of four. For rural India, it’s even lower at about 450 rupees ($9.93).
The revelation set off an angry debate in a country with soaring economic growth that has brought Ferrari dealerships and Louis Vuitton stores to cater to the new urban rich but left hundreds of millions of others struggling without access to adequate food and clean water.