Nutritional norms for poverty: issues and implications

Since Independence, an era marked largely by limited income and growth, the Government of India has been pursuing its policies for economic welfare with reference to a nutrition-based
subsistence norm. The concept and method of estimating poverty has come in for criticism in recent years in the context of economic policy reforms based on targeted policy interventions;
and the findings on economic growth involving a decline in poverty along with an increase in calorie deprivation. The debate seems to have overlooked issues concerned with both method
and norm. This study therefore examines the following questions: What is the status of real consumer expenditures of the poorer decile groups during the past three decades? What do estimates of cereal quantities consumed for different population groups suggest? How far they tally with such estimates for the total population? What have been the temporal changes in calorie intake across different decile groups? How valid are the exogenous norms for threshold levels of calorie intake worked out in the 1960s and 1970s since when the economy has experienced structural and technological changes and improvements? How far the selfperception of the population with reference to adequacy of food consumption corroborates
such findings? How far these measures and interpretations are validated by estimates of final health outcome parameters?