Topic of the Day – Socio Economic Caste Census

In this article, you will read about the socio-economic caste census in India, for the UPSC exam.

In June 2011, the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) was conducted through a comprehensive door to door survey across India for generating data on a large number of social and economic indicators relating to households in both rural and urban areas. It was the first ever caste census post-Independence in India, the results of which were released by the government in 2015. SECC-2011 was also the first paperless census in the country conducted by handheld electronic devices in 640 districts in the country. SECC was conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, The Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner and the State Governments. The SECC 2011 was not conducted under the Census Act of 1948 and hence, the information was collected on ‘self-declaration by the respondents’ model.

Dr N C Saxena committee (for rural areas) and S R Hashim committee (for urban areas) was constituted to suggest the design of the new BPL census. They recommended a three-fold classification of households.

  1. Excluded Households: these would be identified by assets owned and income and would not be eligible for welfare benefits of the government.
  2. Automatically included Households: these would be the households facing extreme social destitution and would automatically be included for the welfare benefits of the government.
  3. Other Households: these households would be eligible for graded benefits decided on the basis of multiple deprivation indicators.

However, both the committees used different parameters for classification of the households in rural and urban areas.

The decision was taken by the Ministry of Rural development to use the data generated for identification of beneficiaries under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through JAM trinity (Jandhan-Adhaar-Mobile) and implementation of programmes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY). The SECC is a better method of identifying the beneficiaries for effective implementation of various schemes as it is targeted and precise. While the BPL approach focused on income and expenditures only, SECC gave a complete and holistic picture. Binary approach of BPL method either included the households in all schemes or excluded them from all, however, SECC will be used to map each household on various deprivation factors and if found deprived they will be eligible for that specific scheme.

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