ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Targeting to the 'Poor': Clogged Pipes and Bureaucratic Blinkers

Drawing on a household and village-level community survey of social income, this paper offers a critique of the widespread use of targeting in Indian social policy primarily through the use of the below poverty line card system, to include or exclude groups from access to subsidised goods and sometimes to public works. It argues that targeting is inefficient and inequitable. In India, this situation is largely an outcome of the bureaucratic raj, which has created a vast system of clogged pipes. While successive governments have dismantled state controls and interventions for the private sector, delivery of services, especially to the poor, is still firmly controlled by the same bureaucratic system, with its attendant problems. Given the limitations of targeting, the principle of universalism is worth considering as an alternative.

Tsunami Recovery Grants

Just a month after the tsunami may seem early to think of the post-emergency phase, but unless policies are devised correctly now, piecemeal efforts will come when there should be a strategy in place. Many assistance proposals made so far have been predicated on depicting the disaster in terms of a job crisis. However, it should essentially be seen as one of recreating communities, and communities of networks and livelihoods. With this perspective, a rights-based approach to social protection is necessary, because the revival effort is mainly about recreating societal entitlements.
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