Socio Economic Caste Census – UPSC GS1

In the light of recently released Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), examine how poverty has been defined in India by various committees and commissions. Also critically comment how poverty in India is linked to the caste factor. (200 Words)

So far, Poverty definition has been done by various committees. Name of various committees are – Lakdawala committee, Tendulkar Committee, Rangarajan committee, etc. The different perception of poverty line by these committees lie in their methodology of calculating poverty. For example Lakdawala committee defined poverty line based on calories consumption in rural and urban are. Tendulkar committee defined poverty line based on expenditure in rural and urban areas. While Rangarajan Committee considered expenditure of a family of five person (which benefits economies of scale) to calculate poverty line.
The major lacunae observed in all committees are excessive focus on materialistic deprivation. Non materialistic poverty component like caste based discrimination; availability of less opportunities got no attention. Thus SECC will help us to link the detail census information of various castes and minority religion with poverty .Thus the comparisons with other castes and the well-off communities.
Caste based discrimination is very deeply rooted in India. The denial of social mobility, denial of occupational mobility has led many caste to remain stagnant in their jobs. Thus lack of opportunities to excel in field of education, employment, livelihood has pushed them into vicious cycle of poverty. The landless plight of tribal and poor marginal farmers due to acquisition pushes them into distress migration.
Thus poverty eradication should be multifaceted which provide more humane face against such caste discrimination. Along with multipronged approach of subsidies, food security, emphasis of education, vocational education and livelihood opportunities.
Recently released SECC tried to calculate poverty based on 7 deprivations – such as
  1. households with only one room with no solid walls and roof,
  2. those with no adult member aged 15-59,
  3. female-headed households with no adult male aged 15-59,
  4. those with differently abled members and no able-bodied member,
  5. SC/ST households,
  6. those with no literate member above the age of 25,
  7. landless households deriving a major portion of their income from manual casual labour


Critically comment on the new data revealed by the recent Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) about the socioeconomic status of rural households in India. (200 Words)
The socio economic and caste census (SECC) 2011 data released by the government portrays a dismal picture of the state of rural households in India. The key findings of the census lefts us to introspect the holistic and inclusive development we have made as a nation.
  1. As per the census, nearly half of the rural households are landless and a similar share rely on manual casual labour for their income. This data jeopardizes the effectiveness of land reform policies in India.
  2. Apart from poverty persistent in rural India, in over 90% of rural households, the main earning member makes less than Rs 10000 a month which indicates that there is a dearth of job opportunities in rural areas and the poverty alleviation and employment generation schemes should gain momentum.
  3. 3 % of rural households have a family member who is a graduate, so skilled jobs are going to be hard to get and unable to find jobs that can pull families out of poverty.
  4. The condition of women headed, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes families is also highly deplorable.
  5. The data also reflects the inter-state disparity as states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha are more deprived than southern states such as Tamilnadu and Kerala.
  6. The deprivation level of rural areas compared to the urban areas is also a matter of concern.
  7. Added to these the higher malnutrition level as depicted in recently released UNICEF report reflects the need of women and child development in rural areas.
Thus the SECC data paves the way for reforms like universalization of social welfare schemes, direct benefit transfer, redefinition of poverty line , active participation of states, reformation of reservation policies to make the growth truly inclusive


Socio-Economic and Caste Census can help identify welfare beneficiaries without falling into a binary BPL trap. Critically examine. (200 Words)
Socio-Economic and caste census carried on by Ministry of Rural Development along with Registrar General of India is a statistical exercise to create a socio economic profile of the nation. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it does not divide the entire population into a BPL, non-BPL binary.
SECC recognizes poverty as a multipronged phenomenon in which deprivation differ across the spectrum. Hence it creates three categories namely Excluded, Included and Others. The objective is simple; Excluded do not require state support. Included level of destitution make them rely completely on state. While others are neither well-off nor absolutely destitute. This group requires a selective targeting through welfare schemes.
Creation of “Other” category is a novel approach as it identifies deprivation are not similar across the nation. For example State like Kerala may have an educated destitute while Punjab may have an illiterate well-off. Hence forth it support the idea of selective targeting. This will in the long run check doling out tendency, reduce subsidy burden and will also result in better outcomes and socio-economic upliftment.
On the leeward side the objective criteria chosen to put individual in any of the three category may still miss some indicators of deprivation. Hence to overcome this, flexibility to state to choose some criteria and involvement of NGO is necessary to make it an impeccable exercise.


Critically analyse the important findings of the first socio-economic and caste census in India since 1934, the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC), with reference to education, health, land, water and electricity accessibility. (200 Words)
In the backdrop of Finance Commission‘s recommendation of increase of states shares to 42% and the recent decision of CMs in NITI Aayog meeting to reduce the number of centrally sponsored schemes, it is crucial to have necessary data for efficient policy framing and need based spending. The socio-economic and caste census report released recently serves the exact purpose.
  1. The data shows around 23.5% illiteracy among adults in rural areas and increased expenditure on education. This puts the focus on more adult literacy programmes and also improvement in primary and higher education infrastructure in public sector.
  2. Increased expenditure on health, especially in private hospitals shows the need of higher medical insurance penetration, efficient management of public hospitals and better implementation of women‘s health schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana.
  3. 30% of rural households being landless and depending on casual labour projects the need of skill training programmes and more support for self-employment. Recent initiatives of Skill India and MUDRA bank are highly needed here.
  4. Smart cities programme can be called successful only when all the households in the nearby towns also have access to water and electricity. In power sector and urban infra in nearly 20 lakhs household still don’t have access to electricity and water sealed toilets. This shows that government has an daunting task ahead before the deadline for achieving ‘electricity for all’ policy before 2022 Amrut mahostav.
Also, hereafter these socio-economic criteria should be considered while estimating poverty levels.


Critically analyse the finding of the first national Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC). (200 Words)
  1. 1/3rd of rural households has an uncertain source of income and lives in kutcha houses. Under SECC data, these will now be considered as poor under various schemes such as NFSA, RSBY, JSY etc. It will reducing leakage and also provides clear definition for identifying the poor which were missing in previous committees such as Tendulkar, Rangarajan etc.
  2. 21% of total poor in rural areas belong to SC/ST. This brings out the fact that schemes targeted at these groups have not able to provide the required affects. Renewed attention with necessary changes in guidelines and implementation is need of the hour.
  3. The total percentage of poor under SECC is 31%; this puts an upper limit on the number. This will reduce fraud inclusions. But people who are drawn under the BPL line due to inflation, disaster etc. after the SECC has been conducted will remain out of the purview is a cause of concern.
  4. MP is the poorest state in terms of less than 5k income a month with one kutchha house per household followed by Chhattisgarh and Bihar. There is a greater need to financial and capacity support from the centre to these states.
  5. Data on rural households include three categories: Those that were compulsory excluded, Those that were compulsory included, Those who lie in between. Thus there can be less problems in inclusion-exclusion.
The SECC list holds great significance for proper delivery of benefits under various government schemes. It is placed in public domain and also scrutinize by the GS. The claims raised against some households are re-surveyed. These facts provide credibility to the SECC data. The few concerns are that SECC list available on web is in image format making it difficult to use search option.



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