A year later, govt fails to define family

Jun 04, 2013, 06:24 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

Attempt at a standard definition of 'family' to replace different versions being used by the state depts proved futile, as the sub-committee set up for the purpose didn't take any decision

After one year, the government’s endeavour to settle on the definition of ‘family’ one that can be used by all departments of the state government has fallen flat. A five-member sub-committee appointed for the purpose, comprising secretary-level officials, did not meet even once during the one-year time allotted to it to work out the definition.

The sub-committee was headed by additional chief secretary (public health), and had principal secretaries of the food and civil supplies and the urban development departments, and secretary of the rural development department as its members. The member secretary was the secretary of the information technology department.

The state order on the panel’s appointment was issued on April 29 last year, with a 12-month time period to create a comprehensive definition, which was to be used by all state departments. But the panel did not meet formally even once, said sources, adding that the committee lost its purpose when no order was issued on extending the one-year tenure.

MiD DAY had reported last year (‘These five babus will take one year to define a family’, May 16, 2012) about how the defining exercise had been necessitated because of lack of unanimity among state departments over what constitutes a family. The decision to appoint the sub-committee was taken during a meeting of the apex committee on UID, the Centre’s unique identification or Aadhaar scheme, headed by chief secretary JK Banthia.

The mandate given to the sub-committee was to construct a certified definition of a family and link it with the UID. The panel was expected to submit its report and recommendations to the apex committee on UID. IT secretary Rajesh Agarwal, also the panel’s member secretary, said the sub-committee met on three or four occasions informally, and decided to use the concept of family being used in the public distribution system (PDS). “We are linking it with the information hub on families under the UID,” he said.

An official from the food and civil supplies department that controls the PDS said there was no concrete definition of family. “To avail of benefits under the PDS, a ration card is mandatory and it can have names of joint family members as well. It’s only after the direct cash transfer for LPG cylinders that families have become conscious, and attempts are being made to split ration cards to show different members,” he said. Effectively, as of now, there is no clear definition that the state can use for all the purposes.

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