Date of Submission


Date of Award


Institute Name (Publisher)

Indian Statistical Institute

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Subject Name

Quantitative Economics


Economics and Planning Unit (EPU-Delhi)


Dutta, Bhaskar (EPU-Delhi; ISI)

Abstract (Summary of the Work)

Problems of economic development have received a great deal of attention in the last four decades. This has led to the evolution of several development goals like growth, redistribution, poverty alleviation and basic needs satiafac- tion. Initially, development atrategies e eared to were achieve maximum feasible growth rates. It was generally felt that the benefits of growth would spread widely to different sections of the population and in particular would percolate to the lower income groups. Judged by growth in national income, the development efforts have been successful, though to varying ext ent in different countries. But the percola- tion hypothesis either did not work or worked slowly. Even in the early years scepticism about percolation was expressed in some quarters. International comparison of time gerieg and cross section data showed that inequality tended to grow wi rising per capita income upto a point in the early stages of development (Kuznets, 1955). This meant that the poor might have to tighten their belt in the first phase of growth.Despite decades of continued growth, poverty prevailed substantially in underdeveloped countries. 71 was then thought that a minimum desirable standard of llving should be provided to all people as a first priority. Development economists thus turned their attention to an absolute concept of poverty. While poverty in the relative s ense is measur ed against the level of living of a ref erence person or group, poverty in the absolute approach refers to a level of living low that it prevents the normal development of human physical well-being. For operational purpose, absolute an poverty 1ine (PL) is defined as the per capita income level that is just suffici ent to enable a person to be f ed a nutri - tionally adequate diet. Persons whose income fall below the PL ar e id entified as poor. Improvement in income of the poor at least upto. the PL forms the poverty eradication objective in a development plan.The basic needs approach to development is further a evolution of poverty eradication policy. In a section of the literature the objective of satisfaction of basic needs and that of poverty alleviation are regarded as synonymous. Some authors, however, prefer to maintain a distinction between the two objectives. It has been pointed out that a distinc- tive feature of the basic needs approach lles in its emphasis fulfilling the needs o f particular goods and services at on minimum levels. The focus in the basic needs approach some is shifted from provision of 1ncome to that of specific commodities (Street en, 1981, ch. 1).This study analyses some of the issues related to planning for basic needs in India. The problems investigated here essentially arise when a plan aims at provision of a bundle of consumer goods at some minimum levels. In order to appreciate the nature of the specific aspects examined in the present work, it wi11 be useful to briefly discuss the basic needs strategies followed in various Five Year Plans in India.


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