Full Form Of BPL

Updated on April 17, 2024
Article byWallstreetmojo Team
Edited byWallstreetmojo Team
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is The Full Form Of BPL – Below Poverty Line

Full Form of BPL is Below Poverty Line. Below Poverty Line is a benchmark used by the Indian government to determine the population with lower means, requiring assistance from the government to survive, generally determined by the minimum daily wages one should earn to be qualified to live below the poverty line.

Full Form of BPL

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India is home to the most poor people in the world. By new standards, approximately 38% of the country is poor. The official definitions fail to incorporate many aspects of the cost of living, which makes lives even costlier in the country. The alarming situation calls for huge government support in all the aspects of poor people’s lives, including food, health, and education. While the government is doing quite a bit, it is more desirable when it comes to eradicating poverty in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • BPL stands for Below Poverty Line, and it is a benchmark used by the Indian government to identify individuals and families with limited means who require government assistance for their livelihood. It is determined based on minimum daily wage criteria.
  • The definition of BPL has evolved over time, initially based on minimum expenditure levels and later refined using criteria such as calorie consumption. It was further customized at the state level to accommodate regional variations.
  • BPL status is determined by factors like household income and per capita spending on essential goods and services, including food, conveyance, clothing, rents, fuel, electricity, and education. 

Full Form Of BPL Explained

The full form of BPL is Below Poverty Line and as the full form suggests, it is an economic term that is used to identify a benchmark that the government can use to differentiate households and individuals based on their income levels.

The poverty line is a level that identifies people who are economically in a more or less advantageous situation. People who are above the poverty line are considered to get at least the minimum requirements to arrange for the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and shelter and may be save some funds for other purpose. People who are below this line are considered to be in a position where it is difficult for them to meet the necessities of life.

Therefore, according to the full form of BPL ration card, people who are below the poverty line need assistance or financial aid for the government in order to survive. There are various criteria which determine this level which are usually fixed by the government of the country.  

However, the minimum requirements do not include the other requirement like educational facility or healthcare arrangements. But the criterias decided by the policymakers are different for rural areas and urban areas of an economy due to differences in income methods and levels.

An economy may have a set of population below the poverty line due to reasons like overdependence on farming as a source of income which may not use upgraded technology, unplanned use of resources, not enough investment in infrastructural development leading to unemployment, illiteracy, political and social problem leading to unstable government, etc. Due to all the above reasons, the people are not able to sufficient income for sustenance leading to poverty.

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  • The working group of the Planning Commission 1962 recommended a minimum level of expenditure required to make a living as Rs. 20 per person in rural areas and Rs. 25 per person in urban areas, excluding health and education because states provided those. According to the full form of BPL ration card, the criterion was further refined that in the 1970s when the below the BPL threshold was defined as the per capita consumption based on the number of calories required to survive in rural and urban areas. Under this definition, the minimum calorie requirement for rural and urban areas was stipulated at 2400 and 2100 per day, requiring daily income of Rs. 49.1 and Rs. 56.7, respectively.
  • In 1993, and the expert group broke the aggregate poverty line definition to a state-level definition, wherein the poverty line for each state was determined separately. The poverty line for states was updated, taking into account the CPI-Agricultural Labor and CPI-Industrial Workers for rural and urban areas, respectively. The aggregated poverty lines for states were aggregated into the all-India poverty ratio.
  • In 2012, the poverty line threshold reached Rs. 972 in rural India and Rs. 1,407 in urban India. In that year, 29.5% of the Indian population was estimated to be living below the poverty line. In 2014, the Rangarajan committee said that around 454 million people in the country, forming 38% of the population, were living below the poverty line.


The World bank defines the below poverty line income threshold to be $1.25 per day. However, India used a sustenance food standard to define the poverty line before changing it to spending per individual over a certain period for a basket of essential goods and services. This basket of goods included food, conveyance, clothing, rents, fuel, electricity, and education.

However, it is important to note that the according to the full form of BPL ration card, parameters will depend on the level of economic performance and the government participation in the upliftment of the citizens. A country having active infrastructural development will have more people who are able to meet the basic requirements and maintain a healthy living standard, and the opposite will be the case for an economy which is facing a turmoil. Therefore the government decides the parameters based on the economic and political landscape of the country.

Benefits Of BPL Card

  • The government issues full form of BPL card to families living below the poverty line for appropriate identification and provision of monetary and non-monetary benefits to these families for their support and upliftment.
  • The government helps this section of society through reservations in educational institutes and government jobs, special grants, and scholarships. It also undertakes various income generation programs to provide entrepreneurial skills through financial institutions.
  • There are a number of other programs like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the National Rural Health Mission, National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREGA), Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY). Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan brings education to children belonging to the poor families, National Health Rural Mission provides healthcare access to below poverty line population, and National Rural Employment Guarantee provides 100 days of guaranteed employment to economically weaker sections of the society. RSBY provides health insurance coverage to the below poverty line population. The government also provides food items at subsidized rates to BPL families.


The two terms given above are two different approaches to estimate the level of living standards of people living within a country. However, there are important differences between the two concepts which has been explained below along with examples. Let us understand the same in details.

Differences between BPL and APL

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The government defines the full form of BPL category families as the ones who earn less than Rs. 15,000 in household income. At the same time, those Above Poverty Line (APL) are families earning more than Rs. 15,000 but less than Rs. 1 Lakh in household income. This is one, but significant, of many more criteria for eligibility to get a BPL or APL card. APL cardholders get subsidized food grains and fuel on the basis of availability and at a higher rate than BPL cardholders, who get food grains and fuel on a priority basis and at lower rates.

What Benefit Of The BPL Ration Card?

The criterion to decide the eligibility of the full form of BPL card has been set at families having annual income up to Rs. 15,000 having been included in the IRDP List of 1997-98. The cardholders are eligible to get 25-35 kilograms for food grains at subsidized rates.

Benefit of the BPL Ration Card

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#1 – Medical Relief

BPL cardholders also get medical assistance at the central government-owned super specialty hospital for critical illness under its Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) initiative. The coverage under the plan was Rs. 2 Lakhs per BPL card and was later increased to Rs. 5 lakhs.

#2 – Education

The full form of BPL category benefits are extended significantly to students from poor backgrounds. These benefits include reservation for admission in private schools at reduced fees, scholarships, skill enhancement programs, reservations in renowned universities and colleges, and financial assistance for higher studies and vocational studies.

The benefits in education vary from state to state and institution to institution. Due to a lack of awareness amongst the people in extreme poverty, these benefits do not always go to the needy.

#3 – Bank Loan

India has gone on a financial inclusion drive to bring almost everybody in the country under the banking net to formalize the economy and direct transfer of benefits to plug the leaks. To help the families under BPL, the government has also initiated loan schemes like Swarna Jayanthi Shahri Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) and Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY).

Under SJSRY, a loan up to Rs. 50,000 can be taken by urban BPL cardholders to set-upset up self-employment opportunities. A subsidy of 15% is provided subject to maximum limits. SGSY provides loans for self-employment opportunities in rural India. Applicants can get a loan of up to Rs. 50,000 individually and up to Rs. 6.25 lakhs in a group. There is a margin requirement of 20% for loans above Rs. 50,000. A subsidy of 30% of project cost (maximum Rs. 7,500 for general and Rs. 10,000 for SC/ST) is provided for individuals, and 50% is provided to groups subjected to a maximum of Rs. 1.25 lakhs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the difference between BPL and the poverty line?

BPL (Below Poverty Line) is a categorization used in some countries to identify individuals or households living in extreme poverty. It’s determined based on specific criteria. In contrast, the “poverty line” is a threshold used to measure and define a country’s poverty level. It represents the minimum income or resources required to meet basic needs.

2. What are the limitations of the BPL ration card?

BPL ration cards have limitations like incomplete coverage, potential for fraud and misuse, irregular updating, and social stigmatization. These cards may not cover all eligible individuals or households, leading to exclusion errors, and they can be obtained fraudulently or misused. Irregular updates and the stigma associated with being labeled “below the poverty line” also pose challenges.

3. What happens if a state has the highest BPL?

A state with the highest percentage of people classified as BPL signifies a significant poverty issue. This can lead to increased demand for welfare programs, economic challenges, and the need for targeted poverty alleviation policies. The focus may shift toward improving living conditions, data-driven policy planning, and social welfare initiatives to address the root causes of poverty and disparities within the state.

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This has been a guide to what is Full Form Of BPL (Below Poverty Line). We explain its history, parameters, benefits of BPL Card, differences with APL. You may refer to the following articles to learn more about finance –

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