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To assess equity, Economic Survey introduces a bare necessities index

The Survey has underlined the need to focus on reducing variations in the access to bare necessities across states, between rural and urban areas, and between income groups.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi |
Updated: January 30, 2021 1:15:03 pm
economic survey, budget 2021, india economy, bare necessities index, india economy growth, gdp growth, indian express newsInequalities in access to bare necessities like drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions continue to exist between urban and rural India despite “widespread” improvements in each of these aspects, the Economic Survey for 2020-21 has shown.

Inequalities in access to bare necessities like drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions continue to exist between urban and rural India despite “widespread” improvements in each of these aspects, the Economic Survey for 2020-21 has shown, using a newly constructed “Bare Necessities Index” (BNI).

The BNI builds on the idea of Thalinomics in the Economic Survey for 2019-20, through which it had sought to examine the access to food in the country.

The BNI summarises 26 indicators on five dimensions — water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities — and has been created for all states for 2012 and 2018 using NSO data. The index classifies areas on three levels of access — high, medium, low — to bare necessities.

The Survey has underlined the need to focus on reducing variations in the access to bare necessities across states, between rural and urban areas, and between income groups.

“Government schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission, SBM-G (Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin), PMAY-G (Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana), may design appropriate strategy to address these gaps to enable India to achieve the SDG (UN Sustainable Development Goals) goals of reducing poverty, improving access to drinking water, sanitation and housing by 2030. There should be effective targeting of the needier population be they in urban or rural areas or across states,” it has said.

In 2018, access to bare necessities was the highest in states such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat, and lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura, the Survey has said. In terms of urban-rural divide, all states barring Delhi, Punjab, Goa, Kerala, and Sikkim had medium or low access to bare necessities in their rural areas. In 2012, only rural Delhi had high access to bare necessities.

In 2018, the lowest access in rural India was recorded in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Manipur, and Tripura.

J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh showed improvement in access to bare necessities in rural areas between 2012 and 2018.

By contrast, in urban India, no state showed the lowest level of BNI in 2018. In 2012, urban areas of only Bihar and Manipur fell in the lowest BNI category.

Between 2012 and 2018, access to bare necessities for the poorest households improved disproportionately more when compared to the richest households, across both rural and urban areas. “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 noted.

As civic amenities in urban areas are also provided by local self government, there must be effective convergence in scheme implementation at the Centre-state and local levels, the Survey said. “For this purpose, a BNI based on large annual household survey data can be constructed using suitable indicators and methodology at district level for all/targeted districts to assess the progress on access to bare necessities,” it said.

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