Suresh Tendulkar: Developmental Economist crunching the Indian Poverty Numbers

PMEAC Member who Worked on Developmental Economist

Economist behind the Rs 32 Poverty Line Estimate

Did you ever wished to be an economist? While you might be aware of popular career opportunities for economics enthusiasts, we thought of sharing an inspiring career story with you.

Backbone of Welfare Schemes: Poverty Estimates

You would agree that welfare schemes in any developing economy aim at alleviating poverty. Work of economists in such a country thus acquires prominence. Developmental economics work still remains much sought after even in the developed world but it is the developing countries that form the experimental setup to understand the results of implementation of these policies. Suresh Tendulkar is one such economist associated with policy work that can make immense difference to people’s life. His  well-known piece of work is his report on the estimation of poverty in India. This is what forms the basis of schemes such as MNREGA, Antyodaya Anna Yojana, etc.

Academic Career

Suresh Tendulkar’s academic profile includes national and international universities. He is an alumnus of Pune University, Delhi School of Economics and Harvard University. This gives him an understanding of systems abroad as well as the problems associated with owing to abject poverty. Ms. Sonia Gandhi, the UPA Chairperson, constituted the Economic Advisory Council during the second term of Congress’s rule starting 2004. He was handpicked as a member who could be associated with socialist policies that form the foundation of the edifice of Congress’s policy structure. His association with the Reserve Bank of India was as a member of the Central Board of Directors.

In an economy, privatization of inefficient units, categorized as disinvestment, is a much studied and discussed topic both on and off media. India even had a Disinvestment Minister in Mr. Arun Shourie at one point in time but that happened during the NDA rule. He was a member of the first Disinvestment Commission, Fifth  Pay Commission and National Statistical Commission.

His worked on poverty estimation as a member of the PMEAC. Poverty line estimates set at Rs. 27 and Rs. 32 by a committee headed by Mr. Tendulkar were thought of to be ludicrous to sustain a healthy living but it was generally accepted that these are estimates meant to set the poverty line but will not be used to decide on the percentage of people in a state getting access to welfare schemes such as low priced grains under the Food Security Act.

Privatization and Lending in a Developing Country

Credit and Privatization policy is the main realm of work done by him. Its importance in a country like India is of immense significance as credit for industry and consumers is sought. Credit through retail and other forms of banking is made possible through research initiatives that build the basis on which credit allocation could reach the maximum number of credit seekers. Priority lending by existing banks or new banks incorporated with a specific purpose are both made part of policy initiatives and this is where the extensive work done by Mr. Suresh Tendulkar finds use.

Suresh Tendulkar’s work has thus been instrumental in reducing the poverty percentage from its previous levels to where it stands today. This is what growth is focused on in developing countries. In the Non-Aligned or South Asian countries it is important for poverty-stricken people to get a sense of having been cared for and the policies being such that these people are the focal point of the population to be brought out of a situation that makes it difficult to make ends meet.

Therefore, the economists form a clique that is well-respected and the ones meant to advise and form the base for policy-making. His body of work has been particularly instrumental in shaping poverty-alleviation related policy and criticism and revision is only expected when the work is being done to support an exercise that would be life changing.