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Day 46 – Q 5.Identification of beneficiaries for government schemes has always been a tricky issue in India. Comment. Do you think ‘exclusion’ works far better as a criteria for identification than ‘inclusion’? Critically examine.

5. Identification of beneficiaries for government schemes has always been a tricky issue in India. Comment. Do you think ‘exclusion’ works far better as a criteria for identification than ‘inclusion’? Critically examine.

सरकारी योजनाओं के लिए लाभार्थियों की पहचान भारत में हमेशा से एक मुश्किल मुद्दा रहा है। टिप्पणी करें। क्या आपको लगता है किबहिष्करण‘, ‘समावेशनकी तुलना में पहचान के मापदंड के रूप में कहीं बेहतर है? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।


Government schemes aim at welfare of people via distribution of benefits. However, most times the benefits do not reach the intended beneficiaries rendering the schemes ineffective.


Identification of beneficiaries for government schemes is tricky

Most of the government initiatives depend on either land records — which are often patchy — or on a dated database based on 2011 numbers: the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC). he SECC is being used in central schemes such as the Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to identify beneficiaries.

A district-wise comparison with data from the last census conducted in 2011 and numbers from the more recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS 2015-16) suggest that while there are some common patterns in all three databases, there are considerable differences when it comes to identification of the most backward districts.

SECC, in principle, remains a targeted approach for welfare delivery mechanism. There are various problems attached with targeted mechanism, some of which are enlisted as follows:

  • Targeted programs create tensions between those who are excluded—some of whom may be among the poor but “missed” by targeting schemes—and the beneficiaries.
  • Many scholars have pointed out the tendency of politicians to abuse targeted programs by converting them into instruments of patronage.
  • Additionally, most of the benefits meant for end-up being elite captured. As, Amartya Sen points out,” benefits that go only to the poor often end up being poor benefits.”

The other challenge in using the SECC database is that it is already eight years old in an economy which is transforming fast, and where some people have climbed up the income ladder while others have fallen down.

  • This means that a SECC-type exercise needs to be repeated at frequent intervals to ensure that it matches current reality. But the more the database is mined for such use, the greater the chances of reporting biases creeping in, as people learn how to game the database to remain within the ‘right’ cutoff limits.

‘Exclusion’ works far better as a criteria for identification than ‘inclusion’

There is evidence that, because of the burdens placed on state administrations, universal benefits are sometimes cheaper than targeting.

  • Sewa-INBI took up two types of villages in Madhya Pradesh for their pilot, one was a normal Indian village while the second was only inhabited by tribals. 
  • In each case, a set of ‘control’ villages was identified where no UBI was given while the other set got a UBI for 12 to 17 months. Over 6,000 people got the UBI of Rs. 200 per adult and Rs. 100 per child; after a year, this was raised to Rs. 300 and Rs. 150—respectively—in the normal villages. In the tribal villages, the sum was kept at Rs. 300 and Rs. 150 in the 12-month period.
    • In this experiment, it was found that, on many parameters, conditions of inhabitant of UBI controlled villlages improved.
  • However, there are many problems associated with universal targeting, like
    • Conspicuous spending: Households, especially male members, may spend this additional income on wasteful activities.
    • Moral hazard (reduction in labour supply): A minimum guaranteed income might make people lazy and opt out of the labour market.

  • Gender disparity induced by cash: Gender norms may regulate the sharing of UBI within a household – men are likely to exercise control over spending of the UBI. This may not always be the case with other in-kind transfers.


In current times, the last mile delivery of services is being taken up in a vigorous manner through tools like Sevottam Model, Social Audit etc. Need is to further strengthen the existing measures to ensure a smooth delivery of benefits and improve governance in the country.

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