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Aims & Objectives National Centre for Theoretical and Applied Economic Research
  Discussion Papers
 
 

Interactive Session on Status of Poverty level among Scheduled Castes occupational groups, 21st May, 2007.

 

I . Concepts of Poverty Line and BPL Census

To estimate the poverty, the first step is to define a poverty line. A poverty line divides the poor from the non-poor. In India, the estimation of poverty is done by the Planning Commission based on the Quinquennial Consumer Expenditure Surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO). The Planning Commission has been estimating the incidence of poverty (since the 6th Five Year Plan) and estimates of poverty have been made at National and State levels for the years 1973-74,1977-78,1983-84, 1987-88, 1993-94 and 1999-2000. The latest available data from such surveys is from NSS 55th Round, which was conducted in 1999-2000. The next estimates of poverty will be based on the 61st round of NSSO, (July 2004 to June 2005), the results of which are likely to be released.

The national poverty lines are worked out from the national level expenditure distribution obtained from the NSS data on consumer expenditure and the national level poverty ratio. The national level poverty ratio, on the other hand, is estimated as a weighted average of state-specific poverty ratios. For 1999-2000, the Poverty Line is defined in terms of Monthly per capita income of Rs.327.56 for Rural areas and Rs.454.11 for Urban areas.

The present method used by the Planning Commission for estimation of poverty is based on the methodology recommended by the Expert Group on ‘Estimation of Proportion and Number of Poor’(Lakdawala Committee). The expert group, which was constituted in September, 1989 submitted its report to the Planning Commission in July, 1993. A full Planning Commission meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in March, 1997 accepted the recommendations of the Expert Group with minor modifications. Since then the estimates of poverty at National and State level are being made using the Expert Group methodology. After the Expert Group submitted its Report in July 1993, the poverty line defined by the Task Force at National level was retained. However, as recommended by the Expert Group, the disaggregation of the national poverty line into State-specific poverty lines was done in order to reflect the state-wise price differential. Accordingly, the poverty lines and the incidence of poverty were re-computed for the previous years. The important points of departure between the Expert Group methodology and the Task Force methodology are the following:

  • In the new method, the NSS consumption expenditure data are not adjusted in any way and it is used as it is.
  • The new method uses state-specific poverty lines as against a national level poverty line for rural and urban areas.
  • The new method suggested use of state-specific cost of living indices for updating the poverty line separately in rural and urban areas. The old method used only one National Index, which was also used for rural and urban areas.

However, the assumption of the same consumption basket and the same calorie norm for all the States, while estimating poverty is retained. The details of the Expert Group Methodology are given below.

  • Rural Poverty Lines

The Expert Group disaggregated the national rural poverty line of Task Force, which is monthly per capita consumption expenditure of Rs.49.09 in 1973-74, into state-specific poverty lines on the basis of state-specific Consumer Price Indices for Agricultural Labourers(CPIAL), adjusted by interstate price differential. These state-specific poverty lines in 1973-74 are updated for later years using state-specific price indices constructed by averaging the CPIAL for (a) food, (b) fuel and light, (c) clothing and foot wear, and (miscellaneous items with their respective weights in the consumption basket in 1973-74.

  • Urban Poverty Lines

The Expert Group disaggregated the national urban poverty line of Rs.56.64 as was estimated by Task Force in 1973-74, into state-specific poverty lines on the basis of state-specific Consumer Price Indices for Industrial Workers (CPIIW), adjusted for interstate price differential. These state-specific poverty lines of 1973-74 are updated for later years using especially constructed state-specific price indices by averaging the CPIIW for (a) food; (b) fuel and light; (c) housing (d)clothing, bedding and footwear and (e)miscellaneous with their respective weights in the consumption basket at national level in 1973-74.
 

 

 

  • National Poverty Lines

The national poverty lines are worked out from the national level expenditure distribution obtained from the NSS data on consumer expenditure and the national level poverty ratio. The national level poverty ratio, on the other hand, is estimated as a weighted average of state-specific poverty ratios. These are given below in the table.
Table:1.   Poverty Line   (Rs. Monthly per capita)

 

All India

Andhra Pradesh

Year

Rural

Urban

Rural

Urban

1973-74

49.63

56.76

41.71

53.96

1977-78

56.84

70.33

50.88

69.05

1983

89.50

115.65

72.66

106.43

1987-88

115.20

162.16

91.94

151.88

1993-94

205.84

281.35

163.02

278.14

1999-2000

327.56

454.11

262.94

457.4

                                The state-specific poverty lines for Rural and Urban areas.

Using these poverty lines as the cut off level, the Planning Commission estimates poverty at national and state level from the large sample surveys on household consumption expenditure conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) at an interval of approximately five years
 
 

Incidence of Poverty in India

The percentage of people living below the poverty line using data from the quinquennial rounds of National Sample Survey Organization on household consumption expenditure are given below in the table:
Percentage of people living Below Poverty Line


Year

Rural

Urban

Combined

1973-74

56.4

49.0

54.9

1977-78

53.1

45.2

51.3

1983

45.7

40.8

44.5

1987-88

39.1

38.2

38.9

1993-94

37.3

32.4

36.0

1999-2000

27.1

23.6

26.1

 

Methodology of Planning Commission
Planning Commission estimates poverty at national and state level from the large sample survey on household consumer expenditure conducted by the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) at an interval of approximately five years. The latest such survey was conducted in 1999-2000(NSS 55th Round). The Planning Commission follows a uniform methodology for estimation of poverty across all the states. The present method used by the Planning Commission for estimation of poverty is based on the methodology recommended by the Expert Group on ‘Estimation of Proportion and Number of Poor’(Lakdawala Committee). The Expert Group, which was constituted in September, 1989 submitted its Report to the Planning Commission in July, 1993. A full Planning Commission meeting chaired by the Prime Minister in March 1977 accepted the recommendations of the Expert group with minor modifications. Since then the estimates of poverty at national and state level are being made using the Expert Group methodology. The per capita consumption expenditure norm has been fixed at Rs. 49.09 per month in rural areas and Rs.56.64 per month in urban areas at 1973-74 prices at national level corresponding to a basket of goods and services anchored on a norm of per capital/ daily calorie requirement of 2400 kcal in rural areas and 2100 kcal in urban areas. The state-specific poverty lines are derived from the national level poverty lines, using inter-state price differentials, according to the Expert Group Methodology. The state-specific poverty lines are updated using state-specific consumer price indices.

Poverty Estimates for 2004-05
On the basis of consumer expenditure data of 61st Round of the National Sample Survey(NSS), as reported in the Approach to the Eleventh Plan, the poverty ratio in 2004-05 is estimated as 27.8 percent using Uniform Recall Period(URP) in which the consumer expenditure data for  all the items are collected from 30-day recall period) and about 22 percent using Mixed Recall Period(MRP, in which the consumer expenditure data for five non-food items, namely, clothing, footwear, durable goods, education and institutional medical expenses are collected from 365 –day recall period). The poverty estimates in 2004-05 based on URP consumption (27.8percent) is comparable with the poverty estimates of 1993-94, which was 36 percent. The poverty estimates in 2004-05 based on MRP consumption (22 percent) is roughly (but not strictly) comparable with the poverty estimates of 1999-2000, which is 26.1 percent.

 
     
 

BPL Census by the Ministry of Rural Development
 
In beginning of every Five Year Plan, the Ministry of Rural Development conducts the BPL Census to identify the rural poor families who could be assisted under various programmes of the Ministry. First BPL Survey was conducted in 1992 for the 8th Five Year Plan and BPL Census were conducted in 1997 and 2002 with methodologies different from each other.

BPL Survey/Census for 8th Plan (1992-1997)
It was only for the 8th Plan that a detailed procedure was prescribed to identify the BPL families in the rural areas. The need for the systematic survey of BPL families was felt because of the feed back received through the concurrent evaluation of programmes such as IRDP, had shown that a significant part of the benefits of the programme had gone to either ineligible categories or to the non-poor. In addition to that the distribution of beneficiaries at the village level was uneven and sometimes the most eligible families were left out from the list of BPL families. Therefore, for conducting the BPL survey the detailed guidelines were issued where the annual income of the family was primarily the criteria to decide the poverty status of the rural household.

 

BPL Survey/ Census for the 9th Plan (1997-2002)

While issuing the guidelines for the BPL Survey (which was renamed as BPL Census) for the 9th Five Year Plan, it was observed that the BPL Survey conducted for the 8th Plan revealed large scales discrepancies between the survey results and official State-wise Poverty Estimates made by the Planning Commission based on the Consumer Expenditure Survey of NSSO. With a view to improve the methodology to conduct the BPL Census, a meeting of Expert Group was convened by the Ministry and the following major recommendations were made by the Expert Group: -

    1. It would not be proper to classify families below the poverty line based on a single criteria i.e the annual family income. A multiple criteria for classification of BPL families should be used to include qualitative parameters like household occupation, housing condition, number of earners, asset position (land operated/owned, number of livestock owned, consumer durables used, etc)
    2. An exclusion criterion could be used for weeding out those families for the Census which are prima facie not poor.
    3. Greater emphasis should be given to training locally available staff (village level functionaries like VLWs, School Teachers etc.)Who are not professionally qualified or experienced to carry out such a Census. It would be desirable to associate the Directorate of Economic and Statistics as also the field officials of NSSO to provide technical support for training and supervision of village functionaries conducting the BPL Census.
    4. A departure should be made from the earlier methodology of income estimation by the more acceptable method of arriving at household income through household consumer expenditure as is done by the NSSO. The reason being, there is always an inherent bias among the rural population to under-estimate income so as to be covered under the target group.

The above recommendations of the Expert Group relating to the methodology of BPL Census 1997 were broadly endorsed by the State Secretaries in a meeting. In order to prevent a situation of ineligible households getting the benefits of the programmes of this Ministry exclusive criteria was incorporated. The household schedule prescribed by the BPL Census 1997 had two parts i.e. Part (a) and (b).  Part (a) of the schedule listed certain items including land, pucca house and certain consumer durables. Any rural household possessing these items was excluded and Part (b) was not filled up in respect of such families.

BPL Census for the 10th Plan (2002-07)

While the BPL Census 1992 had adopted Rs.11,000 as the income level of the rural household, the 1997 BPL Census adopted Rs.20,000 per annum as the limit for exclusion of a family from the BPL list. For the 9th Plan Consumption Expenditure was included as one of the main parameters for identification of BPL families in the rural areas.

Both the income and expenditure criteria adopted during the BPL survey of 1992 and 1997 had their won limitations in the sense both the approaches suffered from the criticism of having subjectivity. In a situation when the rural household and the enumerator know the limit of income or expenditure to qualify as a BPL family, there is a temptation to hide the information. Secondly, the 1992 and 1997 BPL Survey results were inconsistent with the official Poverty Estimates made by the Planning Commission. The exclusion criteria adopted for the BPL Census 1997 was also subject to a lot of criticism as sometimes it may be a misleading to decide the poverty status of the rural household. Another criticism of earlier BPL Survey was Governments to prepare the BPL list by taking into account the local factors and incidence of poverty in a particular area.

In the above background, the Ministry of Rural Development decided to set up an Expert Group under the chairmanship of Dr. P. L. Sanjeeva Reddy former Secretary, Department of Rural Development, Government of India to look into the issues relating to identification of BPL families in the rural areas and to suggest a more appropriate methodology for the BPL Census 2002. The Expert group comprised of professionals, academicians and bureaucrats. The Expert Group had a wide range of discussions with the stakeholders and also sought the views of the State Governments. After a wide range of discussions, the Expert Group recommended the methodology of Score Based Ranking of each household indicating their quality of life. For this purpose, 13 socio-economic parameters which included size of land holding, type of houses, food security, sanitation, ownership of consumer durables, literacy status, means of livelihood, indebtedness and migration etc. were adopted besides, collecting information under some non-scorable parameters.

One of the important features of the guidelines issued for BPL Census 2002 was to put a ceiling on the number of BPL households to be identified in conformity with the poverty estimates of Planning Commission. Originally, the States were asked to identify the number of BPL families in such a manner that it should be equal to the Poverty Estimates of 1999-2000 of Planning Commission. However, subsequently the States were given the option of deciding the total number of BPL households equal to the Poverty Estimates of 1999-2000 or the Adjusted Share as worked out by the Planning Commission whichever is higher. In addition to this, the States were also given the flexibility of another 10 percent to account for the transient poor. This option was given to the states because the poverty estimates of 1999-2000 of Planning Commission were disputed by a number of states moreover for inter-state allocation of resources the Adjusted Share was being used as the basis.

While finalizing the methodology for BPL Census2002, it was acknowledged that identification of poor is a much more complex and sensitive process as compared to poverty estimation. There are many factors such as geographical position, climatic conditions, and cultures etc., which influence the poverty level and quality of life of the people. Broadly, the methodology suggested for the BPL Census 2002 was appreciated and was considered to be an improvement over the methodologies followed and was considered to be an improve over the methodologies followed during the previous BPL Surveys mainly on account of the fact that it was more objective, transparent and provided flexibility to the States to decide the number of BPL households after taking into account the local factors. However, the States had some reservations on adoption of uniform criteria through out the country and also on the idea of fixing a ceiling on the number of poor to be identified. The methodology adopted for BPL Census 2002 has been certainly an improvement over the previous methodologies, however, there is always a scope for further improvement survey methodology in any socio-economic survey.

The results of the BPL Census 2002 have been delayed because the matter was pending before the Supreme Court in the context of Writ Petition (Civil) 196/2001 in which a stay order was passed on 5-5-2003. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has now vacated the stay on 14.2.2006 after persuasion of the matter by the Ministry. The new BPL lists on the basis of results of BPL Census 2002 have been finalized by some States and UTs.
It may also be stated that the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order has mentioned as under:
“….. The survey methodology for the next BPL Census will be designed by the Ministry of Rural Development in consultation with the Supreme Court Commissioners in the right to food matter Case No. 196/2001 along with other sections of the society latest by the beginning of the XI Five Year Plan”.

 
     
 

II. IMPROVEMENT IN ECONOMIC STATUS AND INCOME LEVELS OF  S.CS
IN ANDHRA PRADESH

 
Government of Andhra Pradesh had, as part of its macro economic vision of development, identified that the specific needs of development of Scheduled Castes in A.P are,
a) Reducing the poverty levels among SCs,
b) Improving the literacy levels of SCs
c) Improving the health standards of SCs,
d) Improving the living conditions in SC localities and removing social disparities 
 
It may be useful to asses as to how far the implementation of SCP have addressed  the identified needs of the SCs – reducing the poverty level, improving literacy levels, health standards and living conditions of the SCs and whether they have been improvement in the social status, and economic strength reflected in asset ownership and health standards of the SCs.     
Poverty level
Poverty has been defined by Planning Commission “As inability to secure a minimum level of economic welfare” and poverty line defined in terms of income required to buy nutritional food packet with a total caloric value of 2300 in rural areas and 2120 in urban areas. The Rupee equivalent was computed at specific prices to determine the Poverty Line from time to time. The Task Force on Minimum Needs and Effective Consumption Demand constituted by the Planning Commission in 1979 calculated the monetary equivalent for calories intake taking into account the data thrown up by the National Sample Survey 27th Round and estimated poverty line on the basis of per capita, per month consumption expenditure. An Expert Group which was constituted in Sept. 1989 to review the methodology adopted by the Task Force came up with its report, in July 1993 suggesting an alternate methodology and providing estimates of poverty at the national and State level using states specific poverty line data. Estimates of people below poverty line have been made for 1973-74, 1977-78, 1983-84, 1987-88, 1993-94 and 1999-2000.
Table shows that the percentage of population living below poverty line has declined both for AP and All India.


Table : 3.  Population Below Poverty Line

 

All India

AP

Year

Pop. BPL

Percentage

Pop. BPL

Percentage

1973-74

3213.36

54.88

225.69

48.86

1977-78

3288.95

51.32

197.54

39.31

1983-84

3228.97

44.48

164.58

28.81

1987-88

3070.49

38.85

160.43

25.60

1993-94

3203.68

35.97

153.96

22.19

1999-2000

2602.50

26.10

119.01

15.77

         (Source : Planning Commission)  Pop: in lakhs
Between 1993-94 and 1999-2000, the percentage of SC population, below poverty line has shown a decline, with the rate of decline marginally higher than the rate of decline of poverty in total population. The incidence of poverty among the SCs continuously higher than amongst the general population both in urban and rural areas.

Table - 4.: Population (%) Below Poverty Line - All Social Groups &SCs - All India &A.P

 

1993-94

1999-2000

Group

Rural

Urban

Total

Rural

Urban

Total

All India

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCs

48.1

49.48

48.37

36.25

38.47

 

All Social Groups

37.27

32.28

35.97

27.09

23.62

26.10

Andhra Pradesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

SCs

26

--

--

16.5

--

--

All Social Groups

15.92

38.83

26.10

11.05

26.33

15.17

 
     
 

BPL Census
 For purposes of implementation of poverty alleviation schemes the Ministry of Rural Development commenced a separate survey of Rural Families below poverty line, to identify beneficiaries for RD Schemes to be implemented during the 8th Five Year Plan (1992-97). In April 1997 the Ministry of Rural Development indicated that the data thrown by the BPL survey of 1992 had “revealed large scale discrepancy between the survey results and the official sate-wise estimates of poverty made by the Planning Commission based on National Sample Survey Organization’s, Consumer Expenditure Survey” and appointed an Expert Group which in its report revised the methodology and devised a fresh schedule for the conduct of BPL Census. The BPL Census 1997-98 showed that there was a total of 13,53,60,074 rural families in the country of which 5,55,70,998 rural families (41.05%) were below the poverty line in the country and that out of 1,04,84,028 rural families in A.P, 41,84,628 families (39.91%)were below poverty line and of these 11,17,657 SC families (26.70%) were below the poverty line. There were differences in the methodology in the survey conducted in 1992 which use income route and the 1997 census which used the expenditure route. In view of this the results were not comparable.

 In Nov 2002 the Ministry of Rural Development appointed another Expert Group to review the methodologies adopted in 1992 and 1997. This group felt that the 1997 census did not allow for inter state variations and suggested the adoption of a new schedule in two parts. Part A providing the profile of the House hold and Part B providing 13 indicators with a range scores between 0 -5 points for each indicator. (a) Size group of land holding, (b) Housing status, (c) Clothing, (d) Food Security, (e) Sanitation (f) Ownership of consumer durables, (g) Literacy status, (h) Existence of casual labourers, (i) Main occupation, (j) Type of indebtedness, (k) Migration, (l) Preference for development assistance and (m) Status of children

BPL Survey in Andhra Pradesh


So far as AP is concerned field level surveys have indicated varying levels of adherence to the guidelines for the various Centrally Sponsored Schemes and in the recent past, the requirement of approval by the Gram Sabha, appears to have been diluted in favour of what has been indicated as Janma Bhoomi approach. The guideline of the APSCCFC, that a list of constituency wise, uncovered and least covered mandal to be prepared seems to lead to the political element of influence. It may be more desirable to keep the unit for implementation of the scheme corresponding to the administrative units of a mandal or a panchayat samiti
The schedule prescribed for the census which covers 5 parameters to draw the profile of the household (Educational Status, Average monthly income, types of operational holding, drinking water facility and social groups) and following 13 parameters for score based ranking of each household.

 

 

 

  1. Size group of land holding
  2. Housing status
  3. Clothing
  4. Food Security
  5. Sanitation
  6. Ownership of consumer durables
  7. Literacy status
  8. Existence of casual labourers
  9. Main occupation
  10. Type of indebtedness
  11. Migration
  12. Preference for development assistance
  13. Status of children

As per the schedule the total score for Household can vary between 0 and 52. It is open to the authorities to decide the cut off point on the relative positioning of each household in the village on the basis of the scores. The states were also been allowed the flexibility to decide the cut off score for sub categorizing the households into very poor, poor, not so poor and non poor. The score could be uniform or vary from district to district. This methodology was expected to place the states in a position to reconcile the difference emerging out of identification of BPL households for RD schemes and the number of persons living below poverty line in that state by the Planning Commission with a margin of 10% variation.

As far as Andhra Pradesh is concerned the Department of Panchayati Raj and Rural Development have completed the BPL census and results have been finalized-According to this census covering 30,399 villages, the total number of rural households are placed at 1,24,33,000.

The Survey also indicates the social group to which the house hold belongs. According to this classification 22,20,358 house holds belong to the SCs and 15,91,297 belong to STs. As per this survey, of the 1,24,33,000 households, SCs account for 17.86%. The percentage of SC Households which will fall in category of those securing below 25 marks in the survey is to be ascertained.  The survey classified households in terms of their income range in five classification, operational holding in four categories, food security in five categories means of livelihood in five categories, Consumer durables in five categories. Reasons for migration in five categories. The survey also indicates the preference of the households for various types of assistance.(Tables 5.1 - 5.5)

 
     
 

Table – 5.1 : Income Range Classification and % ages

1

Below 250

23,01,850

18.82

2

250-499

33,03,391

27.01

3

500-1499

40,40,265

33.02

4

1500-2500

17,40,040

14.22

5

2500 & above

   8,46,691

                      6.93

 

Total

1,22,32,237

100

 
     
 

Table – 5.2 : Preference of Assistance and % ages

1

Wage employment

38,70,537

31.62

2

Self Employment

36,59,237

29.91

3

Training & Skill up gradation

12,01,601

9.82

4

Housing

19,16,590

15.66

5

Loan or Subsidy

15,89,672

12.99

 

Total

1,22,37,637

     100

Table – 5.3 :HHs having Operational Holding and % ages

<ha.un-irr./0.5 ha.irr.

28,89,820

43.09

1-2 ha.un-irr./0.5-1 ha.irr

21,79,726

32.49

2-5 ha.un-irr./1-2.5 ha.irr.

10,77,846

16.07

>5 ha.un-irr./2.5 ha.irr.

  5,59,872

8.35

Total

67,07,264

100

 
     
 

Table – 5. 4 : HHs with Food Security per day in the entire year and % ages

1

< 1 Square meal

 5,52,896

4.43

2

1 square meal but < 1 square meal occasionally

 8,47,178

6.81

3

1 Square meal

15,04,850

12.08

4

2 Square meal with rare storage

50,46,195

40.52

5

Enough food

45,05,518

36.16

 

Total

1,24,56,637

100

 

Table – 5.5 : HHs with Consumer Durables  and        % ages

1

Nil

34,63,705

27.88

2

One

31,56,341

25.43

3

Two

20,22,244

16.28

4

Three

  7,51,176

6.05

5

Others

30,25,990

24.36

 

Total

1,24,19,456

100

 
     
 

The district-wise data of BPL Census 2002, presented in Table.6  shown below may enable the SC Corporation to sharpen the focus of its coverage.
Table 6.-District Wise BPL Census 2002 of Andhra Pradesh


SL.

District

No.of HHs in the category of

Total

STs

SCs

OBCs

Others

1

Srikakulam

41,813

55,916

424,383

56,147

578,259

2

Vizianagaram

52,805

45,158

307,936

40,925

446,824

3

Visakhapatnam

107,403

113,289

307,489

154,305

682,486

4

East Godavari

12,024

69,333

148,211

120,187

349,755

5

West Godavari

182,703

31,234

301,279

263,195

778,411

6

Krishna

203,597

42,457

242,139

249,499

737,692

7

Guntur

56,273

209,649

196,738

328,718

791,378

8

Prakasam

42,845

205,244

193,867

255,972

697,928

9

Nellore

76,150

154,893

207,111

130,639

568,793

10

Chittoor

27,680

115,677

212,677

178,105

534,139

11

Cuddapah

30,222

21,523

158,376

222,188

432,309

12

Anantapur

39,588

164,914

214,383

153,887

572,772

13

Kurnool

20,640

99,459

304,107

106,866

531,072

14

Mahbubnagar

130,323

59,009

248,329

87,028

524,689

15

Ranga Reddy

28,388

77,646

165,849

68,305

340,188

16

Medak

28,211

89,920

218,440

139,010

475,581

17

Nizamabad

38,666

83,286

241,634

81,651

445,237

18

Adilabad

97,298

127,496

168,256

47,832

440,882

19

Karimnagar

28,960

144,954

441,067

83,814

698,795

20

Warangal

38,105

125,132

172,590

297,393

633,220

21

Khammam

167,986

106,751

179,684

96,952

551,373

22

Nalgonda

139,617

77,418

315,760

88,422

621,217

 

Grand totals

1,591,297

2,220,358

5,370,305

3,251,040

12,433,000

 
     
 

While the 1997 BPL Census indicated that out of the identified BPL families 26.70% belonged to the SC Community, 2002 BPL Census has shown that out of the identified BPL families, 17.86% belonged to S.C community.  The criteria adopted for the two Censuses no doubt differ significantly but the fact is that out of identified BPL families the SCs account for relatively lower percentage in 2002. However inter-district variations in the number of BPL S.C households continues as before. The district-wise and community wise break up of BPL households shown in the above Table should be a guide for allocation of funds for different schemes of poverty alleviation.  There appears to be a concentration of BPL SCs in the adjacent districts of Khammam, Warangal, Karimnagar, and Adilabad. In Telangana Region and Anantapur, chitoor, Nellore, Ongole and Krishna in the Andhra Region. The challenge of poverty remains, even after all that has been done in the last 60 years, with a deepening caste competition in claiming developmental funds.     
It may be remembered that the BPL survey was designed and prescribed for implementing RD Schemes and these schemes have as part of their coverage prescribed specific shares for SC household.
It should be open to APSCCFC  district societies to decide whether the schemes to be taken up with APSCCFC funds should be integrated with  the Rural Development schemes or implemented separately. Impact studies conducted by the IIE in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and by other organization in several other states indicate that during the Ninth Five Year Plan period, the coverage of Rural Development Schemes got some what slightly distorted by the attempts of State Governments to adjust the results of BPL survey 1997 to either the funds available or to the estimate of BPL population indicated by the Planning Commission. This adjustment done in various offices meant at the field level exclusion of genuine SC and other beneficiaries who belonged to the eligible categories. BPL 2002 survey provides a scoring system and flexibility in determining the cut off point, from district to district. This in a way facilitates the identification of beneficiaries and linkages to various schemes depending on the resource endowment and other factors relevant to schemes for income generation.
For states like AP which is marked by serious differences in resource endowment such as the chronically drought prone districts of Rayalaseema some of the backward districts of Telengana and the relatively better off Coastal Andhra, it should be open to the APSCCFC to choose appropriate district specific schemes and strategies of development .
Since the BPL 2002 survey also brings out the nature of assistance preferred by the various categories of  households, it may be useful if a preliminary district wise exercise is conducted by  APSCCFC  before schemes are finalized and funds are allotted for various schemes.

There is a need to shift the APSCCFC schemes from allocation based to need based approach and some of the steps suggested and the preference emerging from Table 5.2 above may help the Corporation more in that direction. Over a period both the Planning and implementation capability of APSCCFC and its district units will improve.
 
     
 

III .  EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORT OF THE XI PLAN
WORKING GROUP ON POVERTY ELIMINATION PROGRAMMES

 

Leads /Strategies for Poverty Alleviation

Government has been adopting several poverty alleviation strategies over the last five decades.  These could be classified into four broad groups:  Institutional Reforms, Empowerment of the poor, Development of Resource Deficient Areas, Special Employment Programmes and Safety Nets. The non-government organizations (NGOs) have also been evolving several different innovative schemes with the participation of the poor to address some of the specific disadvantages/ deprivations of the poor. Some of the projects undertaken under the public- public and public- private partnerships hold promise for scaling up and replication. Some of these development initiatives have been assessed and lessons learnt have been detailed else where in the report.

It is well recognized that SHGs are appropriate grass-root level institutions for attacking multiple deprivation.  The number of SHGs which is about 4 million – is increasing at an encouraging pace drawing support from the central and state governments, NABARD, banks and NGOs.   The groups can be supported for taking up income generating activities.  A series of confidence building measures should precede their integration with the markets.  There should be regular and steady training in banking and marketing. Promotion of federations around industrial / commodity clusters is a promising approach for involving the SHGs in productive income generating activities.

Identification of the Poor

The objective of poverty elimination makes it imperative to identify the poor by their priority needs rather than only counting the number of poor and treating them as a homogeneous group. For the hardcore poor, the priority need is for safety nets to remove their deprivations. In fact, this part of the poverty programmes needs top priority in the Eleventh Five Year Plan as the safety nets are in a very poor state weakening the very foundations of the strategy for elimination of poverty. The poor who are better off than the hardcore poor but are not yet economically productive and viable would have to be provided new livelihoods and supported with measures for credit, extension, marketing
and insurance. The new livelihoods would need carefully designed training and capacity
building programmes and adequate protective measures during the period required for their stabilisation. The poor who have assimilated these inputs would need information, guidance and expert advice to effectively participate in the mainstream processes and institutions.  It is important to note that the identification of poor at the ground level needs to be by categories distinguished by the priority requirements of each category.  It is  obvious that identification by poverty line and categorisation by purely statistical norm
would not be adequate for this purpose. Further the deprivations of the hardcore poor and
the initial support needed by the new livelihoods would have to be assessed by yardsticks
appropriate to the locality/community/region. Uniform norms for the entire nation (e.g. the calorie norm used to draw the poverty line) would not work and the identification exercise would have to involve the ground level organisations like PRIs and SHGs.

The BPL survey conducted in 2002 according to the methodology and procedures suggested by The Expert Group on Identification of Households Below Poverty Line (BPL Census 2002), substantially meets the requirements of identification noted above. It provides data for all the households on deprivations suffered by them. Not only are these data useful for formulating programmes and priorities at the ground level but also through aggregation they can generate data bases needed at the higher levels including states and centre to monitor the performance of safety nets and to prepare annual plans and medium-term targets. Attention may be drawn to the innovative use of BPL survey data and their computerisation and presentation on the web in Gujarat to make the data available to all those interested in them, particularly the stakeholders in programmes for the poor (see Boxes 1.2 and 1.3).  Since the BPL survey data cover all the households and the deprivations selected for the survey, there is no need for prior identification of the poor for formulating the programmes to improve the safety nets. They do permit categorisation of the poor allowing considerable flexibility in defining the categories according to the purpose for which categorisation is being done. For example, a combination of BPL survey data and data on present and past occupations, skills possessed and preferences of the household could be of considerable help in formulating programmes for self-employment, formation of SHGs and promotion in the village of occupations and professions having good links with the mainstream. Gujarat and Kerala have used BPL survey data for categorisation of the poor.  This working group considers it important to bring such uses to the notice of all states and PRIs/SHGs. The states should be encouraged to modify the methodology and procedures for the BPL survey to improve their content and usefulness. The Ministry of Rural Development should keep itself informed of these modifications and ensure that the data permit aggregation across states and comparability over time.

To judge from a recent press release of the Ministry of Rural Development, the initial experiences with the new methodology for the BPL survey seem to be encouraging: “The new BPL survey in 2007 will be taken up in consultation with the state governments…The Ministry has issued guidelines for placing the draft BPL list before the gram sabha. A two-stage appeal mechanism has been introduced. States have been advised that the final BPL list should be displayed on their website (and) also printed and kept in the form of a booklet at the Panchayat headquarters….  a provision has also been made to allow new names to be added and ineligible names deleted on a continuous basis during the period to which the list applies… for bringing more transparency, a permanent waitlist (prepared) on the basis of ranking of the BPL families is to be painted on the wall of the Panchayat Headquarters”

Since there is a separate Expert Group dealing with the issues relating to measurement of poverty, we only make here three points about measurement of poverty. First, if the focus in the Eleventh Five Year Plan shifts to multiple-deprivation concept of poverty and categorisation of the poor rather than the familiar Head Count Ratio, the measurement of poverty at the level of NSS zones, states and all-India would have to be compatible with the changed focus though the measures now in vogue could also remain in use. Second, time has come to seriously ponder the adequacy of linking the measurement of poverty with the calorie norm or with an income norm related to it. If the growth has picked up and the Planning Commission is serious about pursuing the objective of poverty elimination, the measurement of poverty at the aggregate level would have to reflect the growing concern felt in the country regarding persistence of deprivations and the serious lag in employment growth. Third, The Expert Group on BPL Survey has pointed out the possibility of conflict between the magnitude of poverty as revealed by the BPL surveys and as estimated on the basis of NSS surveys. This need not be a major issue if the prioritisation and allocation of funds is done not on the basis of a single measure of poverty but on the basis of targets fixed for removal of deprivations and generation of wage and self-employment. It also needs to be remembered that the present methodology of BPL surveys would insulate to a large extent the measurement of poverty from the politician’s itch to inflate poverty numbers for reasons not difficult to guess. The best course in future would be to rely increasingly on the aggregation of BPL survey data for the policy decisions at the state and central level and for monitoring the progress of poverty elimination. Measures like HCR based on NSS surveys could be used as cross checks and for validation of policy implications suggested by the BPL data.

 

IV.  Issues for discussion

  1. There are vast differences in the poverty levels among different districts of Andhra Pradesh Poverty is concentrated in a few geographical locations and among specific socially disadvantaged groups. Sample socio-economic survey has to adopt a suitable methodology for proper identification of eligible beneficiaries. Attempts such as the one made after 2002 BPL Census, to adjust target orientation to available funds need to be avoided. Better methods need to be considered.

 

  1. Instructions have been issued by GOI to earmark 50 percent of allocations for coverage of SC families among the total BPL families assisted under poverty alleviation programmes. This is not fully observed in all the programmes. Programme specific guidelines and earmarking of funds could be considered for enhancing flow of benefits to SCs.
  1. There are noticeable differences in the levels of resource endowment, social technical and credit infrastructure in the districts and among the socio-economic parameters like literacy levels and technical skills among S.C, Occupational groups. Programme coverage and targeting as also allocations of funds moved be preceded by a policy decision on the priority to be assigned by the relative backwardness and degree of concentration of SCs. Can this be done? 

 

  1. Programme implementations which were earlier marked by identification of eligible individual beneficiaries have been supported by the group approach. This has definite and different implications for rural and urban areas. Should there be flexibility in approach to ensure that eligible individual beneficiaries are not denied, opportunities to avail credit and other assistance to improve themselves.
  1. Suggestions if any for selection of districts for sample survey.

 

Other issues that may be raised by participants.
 
 
 
 
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