The poverty line is a commonly used way to identify the poor. It is a measure based on levels on income and consumption by people to identify poor. The concept of poverty line is based on the fact that a person must have a minimum level of income and consumption to satisfy the basic needs of food, clothing, clean water, education and healthcare.
When the income or consumption of a person falls below this minimum level, the person is considered to be poor. The minimum levels of requirement to determine the poverty line are different in different countries. In India, the determination of the poverty line takes into consideration the minimum requirements of food, clothing, footwear, fuel, power, education and healthcare for the subsistence of an individual.
Minimum requirement of food is done by taking the minimum calorie requirement into consideration. In India, the minimum daily requirement is fixed at 2400 calories per person in rural areas and 2100 calories per person in urban areas.
The cost of each item in the minimum requirements of food, clothing, footwear, fuel, power, education and healthcare is added up to find the minimum income required for a person to survive. In the year 2000, the monthly poverty line income was fixed at 328 rupees per person in rural areas, and 454 rupees per person in urban areas.
Though the calorie requirement for the people in rural areas is more, their poverty line income is less than the people in urban areas. Tthe poverty line income is fixed on per person basis. To find the poverty line for a family, this monthly income is multiplied by the number of members in the family.
The poverty line is revised periodically to accommodate rising prices and the changing requirements of people through nationwide surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization. The percentage of population living under poverty line in India has reduced. Percentage of poor in rural areas is higher than in urban areas. Some groups and communities are more vulnerable to poverty than others.
The groups most vulnerable to poverty are people belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes, casual labourers in urban areas and landless farm labourers in rural areas.
Even within a family, some people are more vulnerable and suffer more than the others due to poverty like the elderly, women and children, especially girl children. One of the biggest social evils associated with poverty is negligence towards the girl child.