The latest numbers on poverty levels are dramatic; they show that the number of people below the poverty line (as defined by the late economist Suresh Tendulkar) has shrunk from 37 per cent of the population to 22 per cent, in the seven years to 2011-12. This is an unprecedented rate of fall in poverty levels; some 40 per cent of those who were poor in 2004-05 were no longer poor seven years later.

Compare that with any other previous seven-year period, and 2005-12 would stand out; the rate of drop used to range from infinitesimal to barely half a percentage point in a year, compared to four times that rate in the latest seven years. Raise a cheer - but for what and whom? Read More