New Delhi. After Planning Commission’s benchmarks for identifying poor people based on economic criteria drew flak, the government has come up with new set up benchmarks that will identify poor people based on “social” criteria. The government has claimed that critics should hold their horses for now, as the definition of “socially poor” would include those who were left out by Planning Commission as being “economically poor” and help those in need.
“It’s same as ‘economic backwardness’ versus ‘social backwardness’; a mixture of both goes a long way in making policies that are hallmark of a welfare state,” Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment told Faking News.
However, for the first time in the history of independent India, government has used “social” in a context that doesn’t include considerations exclusively based on one’s caste, religion, tribe, or other ethnic identities. Instead, it’s actually “social” i.e. the way a person’s relationships are made with the rest of the society.
“We are willing to consider even online relationships, as that’s where the word ‘social’ is mostly used these days,” Mr. Wasnik said.
The union minister revealed that under the new set of benchmarks, a person with less than 32 friends on Facebook will be considered for being classified as “socially poor” if each one of his or her friends is having more than 32 friends.
Similarly, someone who is following more than 1000 accounts on Twitter but having less than 32 followers even after publishing at least 5000 public tweets will be considered socially poor.
“Poor status on social networking sites will increase the chances of a person to get the BPL (Below Poverty Line) card, but the final decision will be taken based on his or her status in the real world,” Mr. Wasnik clarified.
The criteria for being socially poor in the real world are quite complex but mostly revolves around quantity and quality of one’s relationships and “contacts”.
For example, a person, who fails to get even a single person to become his or her guarantor for opening a bank account, will be classified as “socially poor”, as it proves utter lack of “quantity” in relationships and contacts in urban India.
“This should cover all those people who are spending more than 32 rupees a day but are still poor for all practical purposes,” the union minister claimed.
When pointed out by Faking News that even Suresh Kalmadi could meet the same fate if he tried to open a new bank account today, the minister refused to comment if Kalmadi could be classified as “poor”. Interestingly, Kalmadi is spending less than 32 rupees right now as he is in Tihar Jail.
Not only Kalmadi, Faking News found out that some of the criteria for identifying “socially poor” were throwing up other errors especially in cases where “quality” of relationships were being considered.
For instance, Indian cricketer Munaf Patel could be declared socially poor as the only relationship he had was with Bobby Darling, while other cricketers in his social circle were having affairs with well-to-do models and Bollywood actresses.
“Even Manmohan Singh and L K Advani are turning out to be poor based on the ‘quality’ of their political relationships,” an expert pointed out the drawbacks in the criteria to identify socially poor people.
“However, Sharad Pawar is rich even here!” the expert added.