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Economic Survey notes ‘improvement in equity’ — better access to bare necessities across India

Economic Survey released Friday also says the poorest households had ‘disproportionately more’ access to basic amenities in 2018 as compared to 2012.

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New Delhi: Access to the “bare necessities” of electricity, water, sanitation and housing (bijli, paani & makan) has improved for citizens across all states in 2018 as compared to 2012, according to the Economic Survey 2020-2021 released Friday.

The improvement has been “disproportionately more” for the poorest households when compared to the richest households across rural and urban areas, it adds in the chapter ‘The Bare Necessities’. 

“The improvement in equity is particularly noteworthy because while the rich can seek private alternatives, lobby for better services, or if need be, move to areas where public goods are better provided for, the poor rarely have such choices,” the survey states. 

While Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat are among the states with the highest access to such basic amenities, Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura have the lowest access, according to the Basic Necessities Index (BNI) created for the purpose of Economic Survey. 

The BNI examined the progress made in providing these basic necessities at the rural, urban and all India level using data from the 69th and 76th rounds on drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions in India. 

Created for all states for 2012 and 2018, the BNI summarises 26 indicators on five parameters — water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment and other facilities. 

The Economic Survey notes that the improvements are widespread as they span each of the five parameters. It adds that inter-state disparities in the access to “the bare necessities” have declined in 2018, when compared to 2012 across rural and urban areas. 

“This is because the states where the level of access to ‘the bare necessities’ was low in 2012 have gained relatively more between 2012 and 2018,” the report said. 

The Economic Survey has highlighted the role played by successive governments to improve access to “the bare necessities” by launching a network of development and welfare schemes. 

These include the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), Saubhagya and Ujjwala Yojana among others. 

“These schemes were equipped with new features such as use of technology, real-time monitoring, geo-tagging of assets, social audit, embedded digital flow of information, and direct benefit transfers wherever possible,” the survey said.

The survey notes that popular Bollywood movies like Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan and the Amitabh Bacchan-starrer Main Azaad Hoon are replete with rhetoric on “the bare necessities”. This is because the idea of accessing the bare necessities of life as a “sine qua non” has resonated with the common man, the survey states. 

It quotes the song “The bare necessities” from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and says it captures their importance too. 


Also read: V-shaped recovery is on, but by 2022, India will grow only 2.4% over 2019-20 — Economic Survey


Disparities exist between rural & urban, among income groups 

While improvements in access to bare necessities are evident, the Economic Survey notes that disparities continue to exist between rural-urban, among income groups and also across states.

“Government schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission, SBM-G, PMAY-G, may design appropriate strategies to address these gaps to enable India achieve the SDG goals of reducing poverty, improving access to drinking water, sanitation and housing by 2030,” the survey recommends.

It adds that there should be effective targeting of the needier population be they in urban or rural areas or across states. “As civic amenities in urban areas are also provided by the local self-governments, there must be effective convergence in scheme implementation at the Centre-State and local levels.”  

The Economic Survey has recommended that the government should ready a BNI based on large annual household survey data, using suitable indicators and methodology at district level for all and targeted districts to assess the progress on access to bare necessities.


Also read: Economic Survey lauds India’s Covid approach, notes Kerala, Telangana, AP saved most lives


Access lowest in eastern states West Bengal, Odisha

According to the BNI, in 2018, access to bare necessities was found to be highest in states such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Goa, Mizoram and Sikkim. 

Most of the eastern states, however, have lowest access to the basic necessities. These include Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.

In rural India, the highest access to bare necessities in 2018 was recorded in Punjab, Kerala, Sikkim, Goa and Delhi, while the lowest was in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Manipur and Tripura.

In urban India, there was no state with lowest access to basic necessities in 2018. 


Also read: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tables Economic Survey ahead of Budget 2021


 

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