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| Last Updated:: 03/02/2015

NGC News clippings

State has more urban poor than national average: Study

Deccan Herald, Prashanth G N, Bangalore, 20th July 2014

Karnataka’s urban poor percentage is way higher than the national average and has been the same for nearly 30-odd years now. While the current national urban poor percentage stands at 26, the percentage in State is 32, according to a study by a senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC). 

In 1973, the national urban poor made up for 49 per cent, while in Karnataka it was 52.5 per cent. In Bangalore, the urban poor comprise between 15 per cent and 19 per cent of the current one-crore population. The UN Millennium Development Goals report, which was released here recently, has no good news for the country. 

The report states that India houses 30 per cent of the world’s poorest people. Kala Seetharam Sridhar, Professor and Head of Centre for Research in Urban Affairs (CRUA) at ISEC told Deccan Herald that as per her findings, the number of Karnataka’s urban poor were always higher than other states.

Gujarat has 13 per cent urban poor, Tamil Nadu 22 per cent, Andhra Pradesh 28 per cent, Maharashtra 32.2 per cent and Karnataka 32.6 per cent. “There are several factors behind the higher trend, but a major one is the lower minimum wage in the State compared to,  say, Tamil Nadu. The other factor could be high migration into Karnataka and Bangalore in particular. The State’s urban policy too influences decisions on poverty,” she said.

Bangalore, says Kala, has seen a growth in population and migration. Sometimes heavy supply could affect wages, which would go down, particularly in the construction sector. Bulk of the urban poor work in tertiary sector - construction, cab drivers, hotels and eateries, insurance agents, helping hands in commercial, office and residential spaces, as security personnel, cleaners, mechanics and not to mention street vendors, ragpickers and the like. 

Estimates by scholars indicate that 66 per cent of Bangalore’s urban population is in the tertiary sector and trades.
Day-to-day basis: What does this mean in terms of everyday life? If current prices are considered, the poor wouldn’t be able to afford food at market rates. Kala estimates that surviving on a day-to-day basis in the City would require a minimum of Rs 120, which nullifies Planning Commission’s Rs 32 per day estimate. Politicians have made fun of the Planning Commission’s poverty line saying that one could get a meal for Rs 10 and Rs 12 in Delhi or Mumbai. However, no mention has been made about what kind of food or where it is available, she said.

In Karnataka and in Bangalore, the minimum wage paid sometimes could be in the range of Rs 94 to Rs 98 per day, while it should be Rs 120. In Tamil Nadu,  minimum wage is at Rs 120. But if it costs Rs 120 per day to have decent food in a city-like Bangalore, the minimum wage would not be adequate.

Different income estimates have to be prepared to work out new ranges of minimum wage. The cost of living varies from city to city.