Cabinet clears caste, BLP census
statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 19 MAY: A head count to identify the poor, including their caste and religion, was today approved by the government which aims at ensuring that the benefits of targeted subsidy programme reach them. A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its nod for conducting a census in rural and urban areas to identify those living below poverty line (BPL).
The enumeration on the basis of caste and religion would be part of the census that would begin in June and end by December this year, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ms Ambika Soni said after the Cabinet meeting.
The previous BPL surveys were conducted in 1992, 1997 and 2002. The last one was supposed to have been conducted in 2007, but it could not be done because of a court stay, which was vacated only in 2006.
The caste and religion based census for BPL families is, however, different from the ‘general census’. This is the first time that the mammoth head count is being carried out to identify the poor along with their caste and religion. This is also the first effort to carry out a caste census in independent India ~ the last such exercise was held in 1931.
The paper-less exercise would be carried out by state governments through low-cost hand-held devices to be manufactured by state-run Bharat Electronics Limited. It would help identify the proportion of every religion and caste among the BPL category. While the BPL data for urban and rural poor would be utilised for the 12th Plan, the targeted subsidy schemes as well as the Unique Identification programme (UID), the data on caste and religion would remain confidential. The ministries of rural development, housing and urban poverty alleviation and the registrar general of India would jointly conduct the census. The identification of urban poor is being carried out for the first time as earlier only the rural population was enumerated to help them avail targeted BPL benefits, a senior rural development ministry official said.
The rural population would be divided into three categories, including exclusion of those above poverty line and automatic inclusion of those in the BPL category. The last category would enable identification of the targeted population by using seven parameters and ranked accordingly. The parameters include households with only one room, those without any adult member between 16-59 years of age and no literate adult above 25 years. pti