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The storm over the Planning Commission's definition of the poverty line at Rs 32 (or Rs 26 for rural India) seems to have calmed down — for now. At a press conference on 3 October, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh assured all that beneficiaries of social schemes and subsidies for the poor would not be decided using that number as a cut-off for eligibility.

One good outcome is the attention it has brought to the morass of statistics that have attempted to define the poverty line; the plan panel's 1970s nutritional line (2,400 calories per person per day); the World Bank's poverty line is $1.25 a day (in 2005 dollars, the purchasing power parity equivalent for India is Rs 21.60 for urban and Rs 14.70 for rural areas), that puts 42 per cent of Indians below the poverty line (BPL); and the Arjun Sengupta committee identified 77 per cent as BPL.

A new approach may not lessen passions, but will at least bring greater clarity to the debate.


Microsoft is pulling out its digital media player, Zune. Launched in 2006 as a challenger to Apple's iPod, Zune failed to tune into the market. "Windows Phone will be the focus of our mobile music and video strategy," the company said.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 17-10-2011)