Reality Check India

Below poverty level is not ‘Below poverty level’

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on August 28, 2009

In a fake socialist state like ours, nothing is free.  Within weeks of Amartya Sen holding out his theory that poverty is not just being poor, the Congress government has announced this gem.

Currently, BPL families are identified on the basis of scores (0 to 4) on 13 socio-economic parameters. But an expert committee, formed by the rural development ministry, has recommended additional marks for scheduled castes and tribes (SC/STs), Most Backward Castes, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Muslims. If a household has members with tuberculosis, leprosy, disability, mental illness or AIDS, it will also be awarded points.

Source : BS (Panel recommends caste as new BPL criteria)

Every instrument of dispensation of public goods are now being made to serve the grand interest.  The Indian state will divide people even for completely secular purposes such as identification of the poor.  The actual benefits that accrue to the BPL families from such divisions are not important.

What is important is to demonstrate :

  1. the power of the elected to determine your position in society in a completely ad hoc way
  2. the width of this regime. It is not just about college seats.
  3. the plight of those who are not covered. (we get nothing, but my neighbour gets shafted, so this must be good for me, let me vote for my group)
  4. the irrationality of it all (for example : why are christians not given 1 point for being a minority? ) By intentionally leaving irrationality on the table, they will put it out of sane discussion.

If there are any international* students of political science who want to study India. Start from here. This is the where it starts and ends. There are very few free agent voters. The number is getting compacted every election cycle.

* (Indian political science students, please do not explore this angle in your thesis. Lets just say…)

11 Responses

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  1. Barbarindian said, on August 28, 2009 at 9:35 am

    From exclusion list:

    “Owns double the district average of agri-land per agri-household if partially or wholly irrigated (3 times if completely unirrigated)”

    The earlier criteria excluded anyone with more than 2 hectares. This will not only increase the net number of BPL households, but also enable relatively bigger land holders from richer states to get into the list.

    The key change is of course the following line:

    “Muslim/OBC; household where no adult studied up to class 5; any member of the house with TB, leprosy, disability, mental illness or AIDS; household headed by a person of age 60 yrs and above or by a single woman with major son(s)”

    In other words, Shah Rukh Khan will actually have a positive score on the BPL (although he might get excluded owing to the ceiling fan/auto/pucca house factor).

    The new scoring system makes it even worse. A lot of families will subject their relatives to inhuman cruelty (disability clause). A lot of folks will pretend to be nuts (mental illness).

  2. rc said, on August 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

    >> A lot of folks will pretend to be nuts (mental illness).

    Reminds me of a Paulo Coelho book I read recently , ‘veronica must die’ 🙂

    Seriously tho, this has such huge repercussions on the democratic process that it is anything but funny.

    The ‘BPL card’ will be a coveted possession and the elections will only be whether or not your group alone would like to be examined for eligibility.

    The 3x district average rule is an example. How can a person holding 2x above average land get ‘points’ ?

    This is not about helping the poor, just as quotas are not about helping the backward.

  3. reason said, on August 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    will Nandan Nilekani run a ID card project that is used to drive policies like this? would anyone in the media question him on that and get his response when they get some cycles off from Shourie/Jaswant etc?

    Specifically the question is how does the same level of poverty work differently for a OBC versus a non-OBC. Does 10 rupees in the hand of a OBC work differently than 10 rupees in the hand of a non-OBC.

  4. reason said, on August 28, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    thinking about that question, if anyone has Nandan’s email id I would like to shoot an email to him.

  5. poverty & caste « Kite in the Wind said, on August 28, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    […] August 28, 2009 saika Leave a comment Go to comments Got to know about this from Reality Check India. The Saxena Committee has recommended caste and religion as a criteria for determining whether a […]

  6. Barbarindian said, on August 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm


    Here is a link for the ID card project:

  7. Rut said, on September 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Below the line in terms of governance, below the line in terms of transparency and rule of law.

    Let the whole of India be declared BPL on that account.

  8. […] the clock to devise devious ways to subvert even the definition of poor.  Real staging units like religion and caste will be given points for identifying BPL (Below Poverty Level) families. The idea is, in the future, judgments like this can be easily implemented while keeping a straight […]

  9. Yanira Maccarone said, on October 21, 2010 at 5:32 am

    This is a pretty decent blog. I’ve been back several times within the last week and wish to register for your feed by using Google but find it difficult to work out the right way to do it accurately. Would you know of any tutorials?

  10. […] more than the act of not having economic means. I have warned about this in the past in “Below poverty level“.  So we have another quota  : In view of the targeted nature of the scheme, 75% girls from […]

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