[Answered] Critically analyze the effectiveness of using Below Poverty Line(BPL) censuses for the purpose of poverty alleviation. Suggest some policy measure to bring effectiveness in poverty alleviation.

Below Poverty Line(BPL) criterion has been used since decades in India to identify the population requires special government attention to alleviate poverty from India.

Although this criterion has been successful to some extent, it has been criticized for various reasons,

Criticisms against BPL as measure of poverty

  • There is too much time gap between the surveys for measuring BP lines.
  • Data collected from these surveys are conflicting and unreliable, hence it is not an accurate formula for poverty alleviation.
  • There are many instances of ineligible people taking the benefits meant for poor people due to faulty criterion and mismanagement of these surveys.
  • Measuring correct poverty line is not easy due to dynamic nature of poverty. Poor households may move out of poverty and the non-poor may become poor over a period of time.
  • It does not take into account the people who are marginally above the poverty line and in need of government help for fulfilling daily needs.
  • BPL criterion does not differentiate between the included people, whereas the people at the bottom of poverty line should be subject to special attention of government policies.
  • Poverty line is well below standard poverty line measured by international organisations.

While BPL criterion also has helped 

  • By using BPL criterion our country has been able to reduce the poverty to the figure of 12.5% in 2015 (World Bank’s estimates of 2015) from more than 50%.
  • BPL criterion has provided the country with the tool to target the poverty in the absence of other effective measures.
  • BPL criterion have been used in various schemes and plans like PDS, poverty alleviation schemes, health insurance scheme for unorganised workers, which have helped India a lot in improving the standard of living of it’s poor population.

Way ahead

  • To address the poverty we must focus on providing employment opportunity to most of the population.
  • Dividing social safety net policies into three categories:-

First, provision of back-up manual work at below market wages to those who are able to work

Second, provision of insurance against catastrophic events such as health-care emergencies or crop failure that push people into poverty

Third is provision of cash support to people who are no longer able to work.

  • MGNREGA offers an excellent model for employment programmes in rural areas, which could be expanded to urban areas.
  • Old age and disability pension schemes need to provide a greater level of benefits and offer easier access.
  • Comprehensive and more effective measuring tools like Social Economic and Caste census should be used for identifying poor.
  • Encouraging MSME’s to divert the disguised unemployed population of rural areas to more beneficial and productive works.
  • Encouraging growth of more labour intensive sectors like manufacturing through effective implementation of programs like Make in India, Skill India etc.
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