[Rights Issue] Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011: Purpose, Benefits, Features, Deprivation index

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Mrunal Patel is providing free updates to the Economy current affairs, budget & Economic survey for the upcoming UPSC Prelims and Mains under this Win21 Series. In Pillar4C, he'll cover new developments related to GDP, Inflation, Unemployment including latest budget and economic survey!
  1. SECC-2011: WHY needed?
  2. Census Difference: Regular vs SECC
  3. Confidential?
  4. BPL: SECC vs Planning Commission
  5. Poverty: UN Definition
  6. Poverty Line: India
  7. Tendulkar
  8. SECC-Players involved
  9. Procedure
  10. Data collection
  11. SECC: Methodology
  12. 7 deprivation indicators:
  13. Followup
  14. SECC Advantages?
  15. SECC: Criticism
  16. Mock Questions

SECC-2011: WHY needed?

#1: Beneficiary identification

  • Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011 ranks the households based on their socio-economic status.(=a database is created)
  • State Governments can use this database to prepare the list of families living below poverty line (BPL).
  • (Combined with UID) This database can be utilized for identification of beneficiaries for various socio-economic welfare schemes.

#2: Policy Making

  • SECC census database will provide authentic information to policy makers about caste-wise population breakup in the country (e.g. socio-economic, educational status of a particular caste.)
  • Based on that, Government can evaluate the performance of its past schemes/policies and update them accordingly.

Census Difference: Regular vs SECC

Census= A periodic count of the population.

Regular population census 2011 Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011
Apex organization
  • Census Commissioner (Home Ministry)
  • Rurul Development ministry + Planning Commission.
  • Conducted every 10 year.
  • Last census was done in 2011 and data collection is finished.
  • First time started in 2011 itself.
  • But as of March 2013, Manipur, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Lakshadweep are yet to finish the data collection for SECC census 2011.
Act? carried under census of India act 1948 Not carried under that Act.
Personal Data confidential yes No. (more explained below).
Purpose? Provide general demographic information: age, gender, religion, occupation, migration etc. help preparing BPL list and identifying beneficiaries for welfare schemes.
Motto? Our Census, Our future Our Census, UPSC aspirant’s tension


  • The regular Population Census is Carried out under Census Act, 1948.
  • According to this Act, Government  must keep individual’s personal information confidential.
  • For example religion of Sonia/Rahul Gandhi.
  • Besides aim of regular Population Census = provide overview, it is not concerned with any particular individual / household.
  • In short personal data given in Population census =confidential.
  • Now speaking of Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • All the personal information given in SECC, will be put in public display (in Gram Sabha) except caste/tribe/religion details.
  • State Governments will also use this personal data to identify beneficiaries for food/pension /other welfare schemes and for preparing BPL list.
  • In future Data could be used to update individual’s detail in NPR, UID.
  • In short, the data given in SECC census= NOT confidential. That’s why, Government is not carrying out SECC under Census Act, 1948.

BPL: SECC vs Planning Commission

Planning Commission SECC
How many BPL? (=number) Which individual is BPL? (=name)
for example, the Planning Commission estimate for a State could be that say 55% of the rural population and say 30%of the urban population is living below the poverty line. SECC, 2011 will enable that particular State to identify the households who comprise this 55% and 30% respectively.

Poverty: UN Definition

According to United Nations (UN) poverty means following

  • Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity.
  • It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society.
  • It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit.
  • It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities.
  • It means susceptibility to violence, and
  • it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation

Poverty Line: India

  • Poverty line helps identifying the weaker, vulnerable sections of the society who cannot meet even their minimum food requirement [measured in terms of calorific intake].
  • This line also decides the beneficiaries for  government programs like Targeted PDS, Indira Awas Yojana, food security entitlements etc., which depend on poverty line standards and hence gets huge public attention.
  • But Every time we try to fix this line there is a conflict of interest between the people and state because:
  • Ruling party (@union and State level) would want to show that every year % percentage of population living below poverty is decreasing otherwise opposition parties will start shouting “poverty is increasing under this regime.”
  • Similarly international arena, Government would not want to make India look like a failed state in terms of poverty removal.
  • So Governments always want less people fall Below poverty line)


Last year a big controversy erupted when the planning commission said, “we’ve accepted the Tendulkar Committee report, according to which poverty line is following:

Area Person earning lessthan Rs. ** per day
Urban 32
Rural 26

But due to public uproar later Government  and planning Commission had to clarify that we are is not going to use this line to identify beneficiaries for government programs and only the figures given by SECC to be considered.

SECC-Players involved

  1. Ministry of Rural Development
  2. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
  3. Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India
  4. State Governments
  5. Each Collector/District Magistrate
  6. Enumerators + Data entry operators.


  • For SECC Census, Union Government will provide cash + technical help.
  • State Government machinery will do the data collection.
  • District magistrate/collector will be responsible for overall SECC census in his district.
  • State Government will appoint Enumerators to visit houses and do the survey.
  • The primary school teachers will not be used as Enumerators for this purpose due to the ban imposed by the Right to Education Act, 2009.

Data collection

  • Two men team: 1 Enumerator (to ask questions) + 1 Data Entry operator (to record data in Tablet PC)
  • They visit households.
  • They will also reach out to homeless populations (eg. people living in railway stations, roadsides etc)

SECC: Methodology

It uses separate methodology for surveying rural and urban households.

Area Methodology basedon ** Committee
Rural Saxena
Urban Hashim

now let’s check the methodology adopted for surveying rural households : it is a three part approach

SECC for Rural Households

  1. Automatically Exclude some households (based on income/assets)
  2. Automatically Include some household
  3. For the remaining houses: rank them based on seven deprivation factors.

#1: Automatically Excluded

If a household own any of these items: they’ll be excluded. (list not exhaustive)

  1. Vehicle
  2. Kisan Credit Card with credit limit of Rs. 50k and above
  3. Any member is Government employee
  4. Any member is earning more than Rs.10k per month.
  5. Paying income tax
  6. Paying professional tax
  7. House has pucca walls and roof + Three or more rooms
  8. Own a refrigerator
  9. Own Landline phone
  10. Owns irrigated land above a limit.

#2: Automatically Included

household with any of the following will be included automatically:

  1. Households without shelter
  2. Destitute/ living on alms
  3. Manual scavengers
  4. Legally released bonded labourers
  5. Primitive tribal groups

What is Primitive tribal groups (PTG)?

There are the poorest of poor amongst the Scheduled Tribes (STs).  They’re identified based on three parameters

  1. They use pre-agricultural level of technology for farming.
  2. Very low level of literacy
  3. They population is either Declining or stagnant.

#3: Deprivation indicator

So far we know that

  1. SECC-2011 census aims to rank households.
  2. It automatically includes/excludes certain households (as seen above)
  3. Now for the remaining households (which are not automatically included or excluded) the census will rank them based on 7 Deprivation Indicators.

7 deprivation indicators:

  1. Households with only one room, kucha walls and kucha roof
  2. No adult member between the ages of 16 and 59
  3. Female headed households with no adult male member between 16 and 59
  4. Households with disabled member and no able bodied adult member
  5. SC/ST household
  6. Households with no literate adult above 25 years
  7. Landless households deriving a major part of their income from manual casual labour

Households with the highest deprivation score will

  1. Be first included in the BPL list.
  2. Be first given benefit of Government welfare schemes.

ok so ^this was the methodology for doing SECC census in Rural area. Now speaking of methodology for Urban areas.

SECC urban area

It is a similar a three stage process to identify the urban poor – automatic exclusion, automatic inclusion and a scoring index. A family stands to be automatically excluded if it has either a four room house or possess any one of the asset (four wheeler, AC set, laptop) or any three of the following assets (fridge, landline phone, washing machine or a two wheeler.)


  • Once the survey is complete in all States and union territories, the database will be given to Abhijit Sen Committee.
  • Abhijit Sen Committee will analyse this data and come up with the exclusion criteria for Government welfare schemes. (particularly food security and pension) (e.g. if you earn xx rupees and own xx assets then you are not eligible for xyz welfare schemes.)
  • Earlier Mihir Shah task force has said whoever is covered under food security, should automatically be covered under pension benefit (National Social assistant program)
  • So at the moment, immediate plan of Government is SECC-2011–>> use data to identify beneficiaries for Food + Pension.

SECC Advantages?

#1: Paperless

Polity Census SECC tablet

  • Survey is carried by 2 men team (Enumerator + Data entry operator).
  • Data entry operator is given a tablet PC.
  • When Data entry operator is entering data in the table PC, he’ll also see the scanned form of National Population register (NPR)= it means he can cross check the information provided by given household.This will drastically reduce data entry errors and enumerator discretion.

Polity Census SECC tablet Scanned NPR

#2: Transparent

  • Once data collection is complete, it’ll be given to Gram Sabha and put on public display.
  • This will ensure that there is no misreporting.
  • At the higher stage, data will be cross verified at block and district level officers.

SECC: Criticism

  1. In the Table PC, Under sex column: only male/ female= Transgender not included.
  2. Information of caste details may be misused, for more casteist politics especially when next general election is coming soon.
  3. Basic amenities like a telephone connection, motorized two wheeler possession is considered a luxury.
  4. For Urban area, Any household that has laptop =excluded.
  5. But in Tamilnadu, many poor families are given free laptop, TV etc by State Government. Similarly UP Government is also planning to give free laptops. So poor people are afraid they’ll loose rank in deprivation index/BPL list.  (although now Government is considering dropping laptop from the exclusion list.)
  6. SECC’s deprivation parameters donot consider food consumption/calorie intake. So the whole Malnutrition angle (of women and children) is missing. Similarly expenditure on health is also not considered.

Mock Questions

Q1. Which of the following ministries are involved in Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011?

  1. Ministry of social justice and empowerment
  2. Ministry of Rural development
  3. Ministry of minority affairs
  4. Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation


  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Only 2 and 3
  4. 2 and 4

Q2. Correct statements about Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011?

  1. Motto is “Our Census, Our future”
  2. It is being carried under Census of India act 1948.


  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Only both
  4. None.


  1. True social empowerment cannot be achieved by censuses and schemes. Comment.
  2. Discuss the role of state in Social empowerment.
  1. Write a note on Socio-Economic Caste Census of 2011.


  1. Poverty and Deprivation
  2. Caste Politics


  1. If you were given the task of designing a new poverty line, how will you do it?
  2. What do you understand by the term deprivation?
  3. If we’ve to measure deprivation objectively, what parameters should be looked into? Do you think the 7 parameters adopted in SECC census are sufficient?
  4. Who or what is responsible for large-scale deprivation in India?


  1. Major Inputs from Mr. Manikandan Soundararajan
  2. http://rural.nic.in/sites/BPL-census-2011.asp
  3. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=93133

79 Comments on “[Rights Issue] Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011: Purpose, Benefits, Features, Deprivation index”

  1. mrunal bhai, still not able to understand
    Governments always want poverty line to be higher. (that way less people fall Below poverty line)
    $1.25 per day less no.of people will come under the bracket
    as compared to $2
    please find out my fault

  2. In the Supreme Court, the government had submitted that the updated poverty line was likely to be Rs 26 per day in rural areas and Rs 32 per day in the towns in June 2011.

    By the lowered benchmarks, poverty across the country declined by 7.3 percentage points from 37.2% in 2004-05 to 29.8% in 2009-10. In absolute terms, there were 35.5 crore poor people in 2009-10 against 40.7 crore five years earlier.

    a host of centrally sponsored social security schemes for the poor exclude those above these poverty lines from availing of the benefits under the schemes

  3. India’s opposition politicians accused the government on Tuesday of seeking to conceal widespread poverty after it declared that any Indian who spent 44 cents a day was not poor.

    “It is beyond the imagination of the prime minister and the Planning Commission to know how a person can survive on such a low income,”
    The deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters Tuesday that the poverty line was meant to reflect conditions of “absolute poverty” in the country.
    The Planning Commission’s Ahluwalia said that poverty levels in the country had fallen faster between 2004 and 2009

  4. Mrunal Sir n Others followers,
    As i am aware that we are taking aid/grants from various institutions…so there is no available solution/case study/consultant at international level who can ratify/assist our policy formulations…how long we go through this seasoned(Every Bugget Year) RAT-RACE of device policy-revise policy….CAN’T WE COME TO A SOLUTION?
    Can u please suggest international body who also act as a watchdog for this sort of policy framing

    1. Shailendra, aids/grants constitute not much of money and where it does, the organization DOES have stringent checks and take part in every stage of planning and implementation. JICA or something like that (attention span is too less to remember everything :-) ) is a Japanese aid agency which is helping in many issues one of which is clearing of sedimentation in lakes in Hyderabad.

      Most of the foreign money comes as loans or ECB’s which are given only if credit ratings, history of payments etc are proper.

  5. Hi Mrunal,

    im get rid of what to read for GS papers,can you please suggest me daily news paper(which are the daily papers i need to cover) magazins and etc which also most of the people are talking hindu paper,im reading hindu online daily i didnt get more matter related to GS paper but eveeryone are saying that questions whihc are asked in MAIns GS covered from Hindu paper..please let me know on this clearly

    also tell me some time you r saying that GS manuval, does this book available in the market

    Vijay S

  6. mrunal sir this site is really helpful in my prepration………plz share some more notes/knowledge on burning n
    current issues…thank u.

  7. The government seems to be in a dilemma now. One one hand it has to show it’s success in addressing the problem of poverty which is possible only if it deflates the number of BPL families. On the other hand in view of the impending elections it can’t afford to exclude a large chunk of families outside the ambit of poor households. In an election people are hardly interested in the past achievements of the government. Particularly in India where we have a populist democracy, elections are contested and won by distributing freebies and declaring populist schemes and policies. In such a scenario, the only option left with the government is to delay the reports till elections take place so that any anti-populist decision doesn’t reinforce the anti-incumbency factor.

  8. How SECC, 2011 is different from ‘Economic Census, 2012-13’, done under collection of data act,1948?
    Isn’t caste is recorded in ‘Economic Census’?
    Can’t be data from one be used into another?

  9. i have a query mrunal
    our state govts are giving laptops 2 various school n college goin group under various schemes so can it means tht they possess laptop so they will not be included in bpl acc to above article as they possess laptop?????

  10. No one is responsible for data uploading. I have completed 2 blocks but no one is asking for data. please show me the right path.

    Praveen Kumar Mishra
    Bhawanathpur, Garhwa, Jharkhand

  11. कई महीने गुजर गए डाटा कम्प्लीट हुए पर न कोई सैलरी के लिए पूछ रहा है और न ही डाटा लेने आ रहा है. ओपरेटर का सैलरी कैसे मिलेगा?

  12. Bhai is SECC 2011 ka legal tor par kaisa dam hai or kitna lav hoga is se kay Corruption ko ham ghata paayenge ?

  13. SECC provided for automatic exclusion on the basis of 14 parameters, automatic inclusion on the basis of 5 parameters and grading of deprivation on the basis of seven criteria.

    1) is above criteria is for rural only or applicable to urban also
    2) if not what about automatic exclusion & inclusion criteria ( parameters) of urban ??

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