Earning $1,613 per month and poor? Only if you are Parsi

June 13, 2012

How poor do you have to be in India to get the government to say you’re poor? The Indian government used to say that 28.6 rupees (51 cents) a day or less for urban Indians — about 858 rupees or $15.30 a month was about right. Activists for the poor said that it was unrealistic to think that people who were making more than that amount a day were well off.

As a government-appointed commission works on defining a new poverty line, it might want to consult India’s Parsis, descendants of Zoroastrians who migrated to India from Persia (present-day Iran) several centuries ago.

On Monday, the Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), an administrative body for the Parsi community in India, said it will define Parsis as poor if their monthly income is less than 90,000 rupees ($1,613). This translates to an annual income of 1.08 million rupees, way above India’s 2011 annual per capita income of about 85,000 rupees. You’re a poor Parsi if you’re ‘slightly’ richer than the average Indian, in other words.

The punchayet‘s reason for the “poor” label, revealed during a court case in Mumbai, is to ensure that Parsis are eligible for apartments in subsidised city housing.

The Parsis, a close-knit and wealthy community struggling with a dwindling population, have always been known for their enterprising spirit. Some of India’s most successful businesses, including the omnipresent Tata Group, are part of the Parsi tradition.

Perhaps it’s time for the Indian government, reeling as it is under an economic growth slump and an inability to set healthy growth policies, to turn to the Parsis for inspiration.

Maybe the punchayet has a few more flats lying vacant that they could fill up with some deserving cases. There’s nothing like a bit of subsidised housing to help people get to the point where they’re raising the nation’s per capita income.

($1 = 55.8 rupees)

One comment

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I agree. When the cost of most of the food items like milk, bread, Fruits, vegetables or cost of vehicles, gasoline or transportation, electricity, education, medicine or medical treatment etc. is the same in INDIA as any developed country, and the Cost of Living in INDIA is also same as any where else. Why should not the minimum wages be same as anywhere else and less than that should be considered Below Poverty Line? Specially when the products of Indian Worker (Agriculture or Industrial) are sold in the International Market at the same International Rates. As far as the performance is concerned, Indian Labor or workers are no less than other developed countries.
Since independence, the gap of income between the Poverty Line or minimum wages and the income of Govt. Employees, Officers or Public Representatives (Elected Members) is increasing. And that is at cost of poorest of the poor. If we compare the performance of the former, which is so disappointing it seems that they are the parasite of the democratic systems and they are surviving at the cost of people below poverty line.
Why only Parsis? I recommend that level of poverty line should be applied to all Indians.

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