People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 19, 2011

BPL CENSUS 2011-06-15


Automatic Inclusion a Must for the Disabled


Below we publish the text of the letter written by Smt Brinda Karat, MP and a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau, to Vilasrao Deshmukh, minister for rural development, on June 14 regarding non-inclusion of disabled persons in the automatic inclusion category for the 2011 BPL census.  


I AM writing to express my strong protest against the non-inclusion of disabled persons in the automatic inclusion category for the 2011 BPL census being conducted by your ministry.


I would like to draw your attention to the Supreme Court order of May 2, 2003 in which the disabled have been listed in the automatic inclusion category for Antyodaya benefits which means the “poorest of the poor.” Instead of implementing the SC order, the BPL census questionnaire has a one-point reference to the disabled but it is framed in such a way as to ensure that families with a disabled member do not get a score.


The question is: “Whether it is a household with any disabled member and no able-bodied adult member?” It is wrong to link the entitlements of a disabled child or adult with whether there is an able-bodied member in the household or not. In most cases there would certainly be an able-bodied member, the most obvious being the mother. In the absence, in most of rural India, of livelihood opportunities for disabled persons or facilities for children with special needs, they are entirely dependent on their families who need to incur additional expenditure for their well being. It is cruel and unjust therefore to deny them BPL cards. In fact disabled persons and the family they live with should be automatically included in the BPL category on the understanding that those middle class families who do not require it will exclude themselves.


In fact most of the questions are an affront to the large majority of our country who comprise the working poor. Although the census design has been simplified compared to 2002, it still retains the ranking system for the majority of the rural population through seven questions on a marking of 0-7, where 7 represents the most poor. As is known, the Planning Commission has given each state a “quota” or “cap” of the numbers of those who are to be officially recognized as being eligible for BPL cards. The ranking system is basically to enable state governments to fix cut-off marks in counting the poor to fit into these highly dubious “caps.” It depends, not on whether a particular family is poor or not but on whether there are families who are worse off, in which case the “less poor” family will not be counted as poor. An easily verifiable small automatic exclusion category, with the rest of the population recognised as being eligible for economic and social entitlements, would be far more just.


I request you as an immediate measure to declare disabled citizens part of the automatic inclusion category.