The Centre plans to use the data generated by the recently issued Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) for rural India to address livelihood of the poor in 56,000 gram panchayats on a priority.
The panchayats, nearly a fourth of the 238,000 in the country, were identified on the basis of the coverage of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), a central programme to promote self-employment.
In these gram panchayats, targeted interventions through more focused implementation of central programmes such as the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Deendayal Gramin Kaushalya Yojana (DGKY), a skill development scheme, and Housing for All will be made.
Beneficiaries will be listed on the basis of their requirements or deprivation shown in the SECC, the first such census in independent India.
For instance, the households in these 56,000 gram panchayats identified by SECC as not having proper housing will be provided dwellings under Housing for All. Similarly, those whose main occupation is manual casual labour will be provided skill training under the DGKY. Those below, who live by begging or rag picking, will be provided jobs under MGNREGS, officials said.
"SECC is a database and provides information on the profile of people in rural India. It is good if it is being used for targeted intervention but it needs to be seen what criteria is adopted for such interventions," Himanshu, associate professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, told Business Standard.
He said beneficiaries of programmes like the Indira Awas Yojana are determined on the basis of the Below Poverty Line norm, itself suspect. So, if information provided by SECC is used for identification of beneficiaries for programmes like Housing for All, it was good.
The SECC data showed 0.67 million households in villages, constituting 0.4 per cent of the 179.1 million rural households, lived through begging and charity in 2011, while another 0.4 million or 0.2 per cent of rural families did it through rag picking. These would be targeted under MGNREGS.
The number of households having the primary occupation of manual casual labour was 91.6 million, constituting 51.1 per cent of the total families in villages. This category was the biggest on the parameters of sources of income in rural India.
Households having unirrigated land were 29.7 per cent of the total families in the 56,000 identified gram panchayats. These would be first covered under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchaee Yojana. The scheme will prepare irrigation plans district-wise, for which the Centre will provide grants. "The idea behind choosing these gram panchayats covered under NRLM on a priority basis is that we have the required manpower to achieve the objectives on the ground," a senior official said.
He said since the programmes would be targeted in the panchayats identified by NRLM, there would not be any problem in later scaling these upwards. The SECC, to identify the rural poor, was done through a door-to-door method. The caste component has not been made public, except for scheduled castes and tribes, though it was collected alongside the main sets of information. The Registrar General of India, under the home ministry, will separately release these.