Dreze calls BPL census 'Kaun Banega Scorepati' | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Dreze calls BPL census 'Kaun Banega Scorepati'

Uddi Gujjar is a widow, has two sons below 17 years of age, owns just one bigha of unirrigated land and lives in a two room house with a cement roof. She is poor and entitled to government benefits. But, she may not have enough deprivations to earn the poverty tag in the ongoing Social Economic Caste Census (SECC).

delhi Updated: Nov 28, 2011 23:47 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

Uddi Gujjar from Rajasthan is a widow with two minor sons. She owns a bigha of unirrigated land and lives in a two-room house with a cement roof.

So far, she is considered deprived, and is entitled to government benefits. But under the Social Economic Caste Census (SECC), she will not make the cut.

Cases like hers - which would include many of the country's 30 crore poor - have prompted development economist Jean Dreze to term SECC 'Kaun Banega Scorepati'.

The census, started about four months ago, is being conducted by the rural development ministry.

The idea is to identify the poor who would be eligible for different schemes, including subsidised ration.

The census aims to rank households on a scale of 0 to 7 depending on deprivation. For each deprivation, the household gets one point. But qualifying for the points is no mean task.

Consider the following conditions:

Anyone with a living in a one-room house, with tin roof and brick walls will not be poor. A household should not have adult members between the age of 16 and 59 (very rare) to be considered poor.

During a Right To Food campaign, a month ago a group of NGOs, tested the census methodology in a village in Rajasthan. Only three families met the criteria for poverty though as many as 27 families have BPL cards.

Manas Ranjan, a member of the campaign, said "If a household lives in a room whose dimensions are enough for a person to sleep or stand, they will not get a deprivation point ...," he said.

Dreze said the government had put the cart before the horse by deciding to introduce the proposed food security law in the winter session before SECC is completed. Describing the proposed law as "ill-devised" with a "straightjacket approach", he said.