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Below Poverty Line (BPL): What is BPL, Features, Advantages

What is BPL?

BPL, which stands for Below Poverty Line, is a benchmark used by the Indian Government to identify individuals or families who are living below the poverty line and need the most help. The government implements several programs to provide for their basic food, shelter, and clothing requirements.

The Variables that Define BPL

  1. Type of residence 

  2. Status of children

  3. Consumer products

  4. Food safety

  5. Clothing

  6. Literacy

  7. Land ownership

  8. Sanitation, etc.


Features of BPL (Below Poverty Line)

  • Poverty line definition: The concept of Below Poverty Line (BPL) in the Indian context spins around a dynamic poverty threshold, representing the minimum expenditure necessary to acquire a standard basket of goods and services essential for meeting basic human needs. This benchmark is not absolute but varies according to the prevailing price levels, income distribution, and societal norms. To gauge this, the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) periodically conducts comprehensive surveys to capture household consumption patterns, forming the basis for estimating the poverty line.

  • Poverty indicators: The BPL categorization is not confined solely to income or consumption-based poverty, but contains a range of poverty that directly impact the well-being of the impoverished populace. Multiple indicators, including land ownership, housing type, clothing, food security, sanitation, access to consumer durables, literacy status, labor participation, livelihood sources, child welfare, indebtedness profiles, reasons for migration, among others, are assigned differential weights and scores to delineate the extent of deprivation experienced by households.

  • Poverty alleviation schemes: Utilized primarily for the identification of beneficiaries under various anti-poverty initiatives, both at the central and state levels, BPL plays a pivotal role in the implementation of critical welfare schemes. Noteworthy among these are the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

  • Poverty evaluation and monitoring: Moreover, the government depends on BPL data to observe the efficacy and impact of policies and programs aimed at alleviating poverty and improving the standard of living for the sidelined. By offering acuities into the majority and distribution of poverty across diverse regions and social strata, BPL estimates is a essential tool for evaluating the efficiency and impact of anti-poverty interventions, thereby facilitating evidence-based policy formulation and monitoring.


Advantages of BPL Card

To correctly identify these families and provide them with financial and non-financial assistance for their support and upliftment, the government gives BPL cards to families below the poverty line. There are various advantages of having a BPL card:

  • Access to government schemes and benefits: Individuals or families with a BPL card are entitled to various government schemes and benefits, such as subsidised food grains, education and free health care. These schemes can help alleviate poverty and provide essential support to those in need. Children from low-income families can access education through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, people living in rural areas can access healthcare through National Health Rural Mission, and people in economically disadvantaged groups can obtain 100 days of guaranteed employment through National Rural Employment Guarantee. In addition, people living below the poverty level are given access to health insurance through RSBY. 

  • Priority access to social welfare programs: BPL families are given priority access to social welfare programs, such as housing schemes, electricity subsidies, and employment opportunities. This can help improve their living conditions and provide a pathway out of poverty.

  • Access to essential services: The government assists this group of people through specific grants, scholarships, and reservations in government positions and educational institutions. Additionally, it runs several income-generating initiatives to train people in entrepreneurship through financial institutions.