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

Articles By Jean Dreze

From Calorie Fundamentalism to Cereal Accounting

Utsa Patnaik's new critique of our work on food and nutrition is wholly unconvincing. Her analysis of international patterns of "total" cereal consumption, interesting as it may be, does not invalidate anything we wrote, and certainly does not indict us of any "fallacies". And her attempt to demonstrate that the decline of cereal intake in India reflects "severe demand-deflation for the majority of the population" is based on a circular argument.

Nutrition, Poverty and Calorie Fundamentalism: Response to Utsa Patnaik

Utsa Patnaik's critique ("A Critical Look at Some Propositions on Consumption and Poverty", 6 February 2010) of the authors' earlier paper on food and nutrition ("Food and Nutrition in India: Facts and Interpretations", 14 February 2009) does not stand up to scrutiny. She claims that the observed decline in calorie intake at given levels of real per capita expenditure is an illusion due to faulty price indexes, but does not offer any evidence that the consumer price index actually underestimates cost of living increases. Patnaik's "alternative deflator" and "direct poverty lines" are devoid of any convincing rationale. The charge of miscalculations in the original paper is incorrect, and reflects a misunderstanding of what was done.

The BPL Census and a Possible Alternative

This paper explores the possibility of a simple method for the identification of households eligible for social assistance. In exploring alternative approaches for identifying a "social assistance base", of which the bpl list can be seen as a particular case, this note explores possible uses of simple exclusion and inclusion criteria. It first considers the possibility of a quasi-universal approach, whereby all households are eligible unless they meet pre-specified exclusion criteria. It then looks at various inclusion criteria for drawing up a sab list. Finally, it explores four simple ways of combining exclusion and inclusion criteria to construct a sab list. The intention here is to point to possible directions of further enquiry, including experimental applications of the suggested method, rather than to present definite recommendations. Whether any convincing method of selecting sab households actually exists is an open question. Some of the findings here can be read as a reinforcement of the case for a universal approach. Indeed, the search for a "safe" way of excluding privileged households, without significant risk of exclusion for poor households, remains somewhat elusive.

Universalisation with Quality

India has some of the worst indicators of child well-being. About half of all Indian children are undernourished, more than half suffer from anaemia, and a similar proportion escape "full immunisation". There is therefore an urgent need to re-examine what India is doing for the survival, well-being and rights of children under the age of six years. Ultimately, this involves addressing the structural roots of child deprivation. However, there is also an immediate need to protect this age group by integrating it in an effective system of child development services that leaves no child behind. In this context, this paper, along with the collection of articles published in this issue, examines the role of the Integrated Child Development Services programme in protecting the rights of children under six.