The state’s decision to appoint five top IAS officers to work for a whole year and come up with a standard definition of ‘family’ appears rather outlandish. Not only for its ill-opportune timing but also for the drain it will make on resources of time, money and manpower.

The state has formed a committee to draft the definition, which it wants to link with the registration of UID cards and execution of public benefit schemes. However, various departments implementing the state’s welfare schemes have never faced any problem while disbursing benefits meant for families. There are also certain guidelines in the law books and different departments under the Central government that direct one as to how to define a family. Even the RBIndia uses the definition of the Hindu undivided family (HUF) for its purposes.

As such, the logic behind asking five senior babus and allied staff to invest precious time to arrive at a definition seems, again, preposterous. It’s particularly so since the state has been witnessing an equally worrisome drought-like situation in 15 districts, which needs serious will and work to be overcome. The services of the chosen officers, who work in the departments of public health, rural development, food & civil supplies, urban development and information technology, could have better been used for dealing with the drought.

Each departmental secretary is in charge of a particular district as district guardian secretary, and the government has asked them to camp in scarcity-hit districts to oversee relief operations. But the members of the committee may not be available for the purpose.

Under any given circumstances, the definition could be framed in a single meeting, rather than 365 days, thereby saving precious funds and man-hours. The logic of such a committee is not convincing when appointment of one committee after another is often seen as an attempt to delay a decision.