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Socio-economic census highlights plight of poor

Team Inclusion
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The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), the first of its kind survey since Independence, has highlighted the plight of poor in India. As per the survey conducted between 2011 and 2013, the main earning member in over 90 per cent of households makes less than Rs 10,000 a month. What’s worse, the highest earning member in 74 per cent households makes less than Rs 5,000 a month.

The total number of households in the country is 24.39 crore, of which 17.91 crore or 73.49 per cent are rural households. There are hardly any job opportunities in the rural India. Majority of the rural households are either manual casual labour or involved in agriculture. Source of income of more than half of the rural households, 51.14 per cent to be precise, are manual casual labour, while 5.39 crore or 30.10 per cent are dependent on cultivation.

This is the first socio-economic and caste survey in 82 years. The similar caste survey was conducted in 1931 during colonial period by the British. The recent survey covered all the 640 districts in the country. However, the government has not released caste data. According to the survey, 90 per cent of the households in Bihar are rural. This is the highest among all states. 56 per cent of the rural households have no land. The highest proportion of landless households is in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, followed by Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab and Bihar. 73 per cent of the rural households in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have no land. In Kerala, 72 per cent rural households are landless, while in West Bengal it is 70 per cent and Punjab and Bihar 65 per cent, each.

The survey highlights another interesting dimention of the socio-economic structure. Of the total rural households, 7.05 crore or 39.39 per cent are being considered automatically excluded from the socio-economically backward section. This automotic exclusion is based on fulfiling any of the 14 parameters:

i. motorised 2/3/4 wheeler/fishing boat;

ii. mechanised 3/4 wheeler agricultural equipment;

iii. Kisan Credit Card with credit limit of over Rs 50,000/-;

iv. household member government employee;

v. households with non-agricultural enterprises registered with government;

vi. any member of household earning more than Rs 10,000 per month;

vii. paying income tax;

viii. paying professional tax;

ix. 3 or more rooms with pucca walls and roof;

x. owns a refrigerator;

xi. owns landline phone;

xii. owns more than 2.5 acres of irrigated land with one irrigation equipment;

xiii. 5 acres or more of irrigated land for two or more crop season;

xiv. owning at least 7.5 acres of land or more with at least one irrigation equipment.

These figures would help in better targetting of subsidies and other welfare schemes. For example, if 39.39 per cent of the households are not economically backward, they need not be given subsidies under, say, Food Security Act.

(Comments are welcome at info@skoch.in)

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