Below Poverty Line is an economic benchmark and poverty threshold used by the government of India to indicate economic disadvantage and to identify individuals and households in need of government assistance and aid. It is determined using various parameters which vary from state to state and within states. The present criteria are based on a survey conducted in 2002. Going into a survey due for a decade, India's central government is undecided on criteria to identify families below poverty line[1]

International Benchmarks

Internationally, an income of less than $1.25 per day per head of purchasing power parity is defined as extreme poverty. By this estimate, about 40% percent of Indians are extremely poor. Income-based poverty lines consider the bare minimum income to provide basic food requirements; it does not account for other essentials such as health care and education. That is why some times the poverty lines have been described as starvation lines.

The poverty line in United States is fixed in terms of annual family income. In 1969, the requirements of family in terms of food were worked out with reference to 1963 prices, and it was found that a family of four would require $1,033 annually to meet the food requirement. The study revealed that families in that income spent nearly one-third of their income on food, and therefore the poverty line for a four-person family was fixed as $3,099 annually. The poverty line is revised annually, adjusting for inflation. For the year 2006 it was $20,650 for a four-person family.[2]

Tenth Plan (2002-2007)

In its Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002–2007) survey, BPL for rural areas was based on the degree of deprivation in respect of 13 parameters, with scores from 0-4: landholding, type of house, clothing, food security, sanitation, consumer durables, literacy status, labour force, means of livelihood, status of children, type of indebtedness, reasons for migrations, etc.

The Planning Commission fixed an upper limit of 3.26 lakh for rural BPL families on the basis of simple survey. Accordingly families having less than 15 marks out of maximum 52 marks have been classified as BPL and their number works out to 3.18 lakh. The survey was carried out in 2002 and thereafter but could not be finalised due to a stay issued by the Supreme Court of India. The stay was vacated in February 2006 and this survey was finalised and adopted in September 2006. This survey formed the basis for benefits under government of India schemes. The state governments are free to adopt any criteria/survey for state-level schemes.[2]

In its Tenth Five-Year Plan BPL for urban areas was based on degree of deprivation in respect of seven parameters: roof, floor, water, sanitation, education level, type of employment, and status of children in a house. A total of 1.25 lakh upper families were identified as BPL in urban area in 2004. It has been implemented since then.[2]


The government of Kerala is one of the few state governments which has formulated its own criteria.

In Kerala there are nine parameters. Family which lack access to four or more parameters are classified as BPL.

The nine parameters for urban areas are:

• No land or less than five cents' worth of land

• No house or dilapidated house

• No sanitation latrine

• Family without colour television

• No regular employed person in the family

• No access to safe drinking water

• Women-headed household or presence of widows or divorcee

• Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SC/ST)

• Mentally retarded or disabled member in the family

The nine parameters for rural areas are the same, but the colour television criterion is replaced by "family with an illiterate adult member" criterion

Income based poverty line in India

The poverty line was originally fixed in terms of income/food requirements in 1978. It was stipulated that the calorie standard for a typical individual in rural areas was 2400 calorie and was 2100 calorie in urban areas. Then the cost of the grains (about 650 gms) that fulfil this normative standard was calculated. This cost was the poverty line. In 1978, it was Rs. 61.80 per person per month for rural areas and Rs. 71.30 for urban areas. Since then the Planning Commission calculates the poverty line every year adjusting for inflation. The poverty line in recent years is as follows - (Rs. per month per head)

Year India rural India urban

2000–2001 328 454

2005–2006 368 560

Courtesy : From Wikipedia

Government order

There has been a government order for people below poverty line to open an account in the post office within september to send the money to the beneficiaries directly to their accounts.


According to the rule, the aspirants of the BPL card should have two passport size photographs, photocopy of the BPL card, identity card and filled application form with minimum of Rs 50 submitted in the post office, they can open the account.

Courtesy: Deccan Herald

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