There has been almost a consensus that the task of identification of the poor should be transferred from bureaucracy to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). While analyzing pros and cons of this policy, examine if the methods such as Participatory Identification of Poor (PIP) should be extended beyond NRLM.
The 73rd amendment to the constitution was based on Article 40 (DPSP) which states that “the States shall take steps to organise Panchayats and vest them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government”.
This implies that there must be in place effective institutions of self-government at the local level.
Article 243(g) widely empowers these bodies to enjoy devolution of powers and responsibilities with regard to-
(a) preparation of plans for economic development and social justice
(b) implementation of schemes for matters listed in the 11th Schedule.
However, there is a loophole. Most of the functions are performed by the bureaucratic set-up. What is needed is that the functions be withdrawn from them and be handed over to the Panchayats alongwith functional autonomy and adequate resources in discharging those activities.
It is believed that the Community Development Programme failed due to bureaucracy being centre of implementation where it has no understanding of the real problems of the people. Moreover recognition of poor is multidimensional rather than just based on some criteria.
The transfer of identification of poor from bureaucracy to the PRIs has advantages such as- efficient knowledge of the family, socio economic condition as well as identification of false beneficiaries. The cons could be in the nature of negative nexus, administrative training shortage, etc.
With respect to Participatory Identification of the Poor (PIP), the NRLM identifies the target group of poor through PIP and not BPL list as was done in SGSY. This approach ensures that poorest of poor are not ignored.
Whether, the task should be transferred from NRLM would depend on having another effective method in place so that the poorest and the voiceless are not left out from the process of development.