Angus Deaton
British-born economist Angus Deaton of Princeton University and the Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences in 2015.Reuters

Professor Angus Deaton, who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences this year, believes India's poverty rate might be higher than what the surveys suggest. 

The survey conducted by the Planning Commission of India's Suresh Tendulkar Committee in 2012 shows that 21.9 per cent of the total population in India is poor.

However, a committee led by economist C Rangarajan dismissed the Tendulkar Committee's poverty rate claiming that 29.5 per cent of the population was under the poverty line in 2012.

Deaton, however, believes that the poverty rates could be even higher. There is surely some omission in the surveys, which would mean that poverty is understated", Deaton told Hindustan Times in an interview.

He also said that the economic growth in India is not as high as the government presents it to be. India is said to be world's fastest-growing economy at 7 per cent growth rate.

"Everyone's data can be improved. I think it is widely recognized that the national accounts in India are relatively weak. So what I am most worried about is that growth is not as high as the accounts show. Revisions that increase growth are more readily accepted than revisions that reduce growth. So I am more worried about growth being overstated than poverty being understated," he added.

According to Deaton, the Indian government needs to invest more in nutrition, health and education of the young generation of the nation if it wants to overcome the growing poverty rate.

"Yes, though there are organizational and capacity problems that need to be overcome. In places where services don't work, for example, because of absenteeism, putting in more money is unlikely to help. But if other states can emulate the better services in the south, with more people demanding health and education, then we can make progress, and to do that, we will eventually need more money," he said.

Deaton, the Princeton University Professor, has done a thorough analysis of consumption and poverty in India. He contributed majorly to estimating India's poverty rate in 1990s with his work on India's malnutrition.

Also read