Events of ADRI (Patna - Ranchi)

Lord Meghnad Desai Delivers ADRI Foundation Lecture
05 Sep 2014

We may try and study actual lives of the ordinary families poor as well as not so poor and see how they cope with shocks. Poor families are as different from each other as the rest of us. Reducing all to a number may be convenient for bureaucracy to publish statistics, but lives can be bettered only by understanding in detail how those lives are lived. We do not know enough about how the poor cope with and survive despite many vicissitudes. These views were given by Lord Meghnad Desai, an eminent economist and writer, while delivering the ADRI Foundation Lecture today on 'Can Poverty Ever Be Abolished ?'.

Lord Desai said that we have had many debates about how to define poverty. India has had an ongoing National Sample Survey of family expenditure wherein there is a poverty level based on a calorific count standard (later augmented by Suresh Tendulkar) which gives us the head count of poverty. Estimates of the poverty rate in India can range from 22 up to 80 percent depending on whether you take Tendulkar, World Bank or Arjun Sengupta as your measuring rod.

Lord Desai further reiterated two more salient facts. One is that the poverty rate seems to go up as countries get richer in terms of total as well as per capita income. There is also the disturbing fact that among the most developed countries there is still a sizable head count of people below the poverty line. He therefore asserted that in any society, where the poverty line is income elastic, it would be difficult to reduce the poverty count, much less abolish poverty altogether.

He opined that any economy that claims to have abolished poverty is failing due to lack of ambition. An alternative strategy would be to stay within modest limits and have several milestones along the way.

At the outset Dr. Shaibal Gupta, Member-Secretary, ADRI welcomed the guests and Professor Anjan Mukherji introduced the speaker. Shri Nitish Kumar, former Chief Minister of Bihar presided over the function and delivered the presidential address and Professor Prabhat P. Ghosh, Director, ADRI, proposed a vote of thanks.

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