Abject Poverty and Multiple Deprivations in Rural India Based on SECC 2011 in Comparison with NSSO and NFHS: Summary Findings Analyzed

Joseph Abraham


This paper analyzes latest findings from the recently completed Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011(SECC2011), by focusing on rural abject poverty and multi-dimensionality of it by the pre-set seven deprivation parameters across rural India .As per schema of SECC2011 for analyzing the various facets of multi-dimensional poverty, firstly one set of households will be excluded on the basis of 13 automatic exclusion parameters, and subsequently another set of households will be automatically included on the basis of five parameters and finally the remaining set would be subjected to verifications by seven deprivations.  Thereby, the SECC 2011 had set in motion an effort to capture some specifics of multidimensional poverty as desired by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) in the Government of India.  It is surmised here that the union of automatically included and deprived households will provide a base line of the number of poor through a multi-dimensional mode. The intersection of automatically included households with the seven deprivations variables will also identify the socio economic characteristics of the   abjectly poor. Besides presenting the above analysis of SECC data, an attempt is made to compare these findings with those based on the unidimensional National Sample Survey (NSSO) poverty ratios ( by S.Tendulker 2009, C Rangarajan 2012) and multi-dimensional (R. Radhakrishna et al 2010) NFHS data based studies.  A separate set of multi-dimensional poverty numbers were arrived at in the past  for three Five Year Plans (1992-97, 1997- 02, 2002-07) through the Below Poverty Line (BPL) Censuses that were under taken by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) to identify the poor households through  the State/UT Governments. These later estimates of poor households were never permitted to exceed the official poverty ratio worked out by the Planning Commission for respective State/UT governments. The concepts used to arrive at these poor households will be briefly reviewed here as a prelude to explaining the modes operandi of identifying multi dimensional poverty via SECC 2011. A committee was set in up in February  2013 under the Chairmanship of Abhijit Sen , then Planning Commission Member, to examine the SECC indicators for data analysis, to recommend appropriate methodologies for determining classes of beneficiaries for different rural development programmes. Some of the recommendations of the committee would also be put to scrutiny. 


Abject Poverty; Poverty Alleviation; Social welfare

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