Socio-Economic and Caste Census can help identify welfare beneficiaries without falling into a binary trap.

ABHIJIT SEN INDIAN EXPRESS JULY 22 2015

Urban poor, BPL, urban Indian households, SECC, Socio Economic and Caste Census, Hashim committee, BPL urban India, Nation news, India news
The last BPL census had been conducted in 2002 and the procedure then adopted was to collect information on 13 indicators for every rural household and assign a mark for each of these. / Picture from Indian Express

Not many know that the SECC grew from an almost routine exercise to perhaps one of the most ambitious of its kind ever conducted anywhere. The original intent was to simply update existing BPL (below poverty line) lists. The last BPL census had been conducted in 2002 and the procedure then adopted was to collect information on 13 indicators for every rural household and assign a mark for each of these. Households were ranked on the basis of their total marks, and the cut-off for BPL selection was the mark at which the total number of BPL households in a state was equal to the Planning Commission’s poverty estimate for that state. Since the latter was based on surveyed per capita consumption, completely different from the BPL census indicators, the result was a conceptual hotchpotch. It also lacked transparency — no one really knew why they had or had not been classified as BPL — and was therefore subject to manipulation. The outcome, as is well known, was…continue reading

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