Survey findings that crores of households in India live under utter penury expose Modi govt’s progress claims

As per 2019 NSS survey, crores of households in India, both in urban and rural areas, have nothing that we call assets, neither physical nor financial. Pandemic has further exacerbated the situation

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
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Dr Gyan Pathak

Crores of households in India, both in urban and rural areas, have nothing that we call assets, neither physical nor financial. They have only their bodies and lives that they somehow carry on. They don’t have even an address since they don’t have even land or house of their own, and hence there is no question of their access to social security programmes. At best, they receive a little charity from the charitable.

Urban areas are worse with about 2 per cent households in this category while in rural areas the percentage is about 0.6. About 14.6 per cent households in urban areas have no physical asset, while 5.3 per cent have no financial asset. In rural areas, 2.5 per cent do not have any physical asset, and 3.4 per cent do not have any financial asset.

These figures were revealed in the latest All India Debt and Investment Survey – 2019, (NSS 77th round) data released recently for the year just before the COVID-19 struck the country, which, of course, has further exacerbated the situation. The dismal performance of the government is thus irrefutable. If Modi government is doing great service to the nation, as it has been claimed, the benefit does not reach these people, since they have been utterly neglected by the government.

The average value of the assets in the rural areas for a household is only Rs 1,592,000, out of which Rs 1,520,000 is estimated value of the physical asset, and Rs 726,000 as financial asset. The different components of the value of assets include 69 per cent land, 22 per cent building, 5 per cent deposit, and 4 per cent others.

In urban areas, the value of average household asset is Rs 2,717,000, physical asset Rs 2,465,000 and financial asset Rs 2,518,000. It includes the share of the value of land, at about 49 per cent, of building 33 per cent, of deposit 9 per cent, and of others 4 per cent.

We have four groupings of the people – Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC), Other Backward Class (OBC) and others. About 1.2 per cent ST households in the rural areas, and 6.3 per cent in the urban areas do not possess any asset. The average value of their assets in rural area is Rs 884,000 and in urban areas Rs 1,890,000.


As for the SCs, 0.7 per cent households in rural areas and 3.4 per cent in urban areas do not possess any asset. The average value of the assets they possess is Rs 879,000 in rural areas and Rs 1,315,000 in urban areas.

Thus, we see that percentage of STs with assets, both in rural and urban areas, is less than the percentage of SCs. However, in value it is reverse. The average value of the assets per household is better for STs than for SCs, both in urban and rural areas.

The position of OBC households is better than any other groupings. Only 0.4 per cent OBC households in rural areas, and 1.2 per cent in urban areas do not have any asset. The average value of their assets per household in rural areas is Rs 1,645,000 and in urban areas is Rs. 2,120,000, which is greater than the value of the assets owned by SC and ST household.

About 0.6 per cent of others in rural areas and 2 per cent in urban areas do not have any assets. However, among those who posses assets, their value is Rs 2,603,000 in rural and Rs 4,054,000 in urban areas. Thus in comparison to OBC household, others possessing assets are less in percentage but the value of their asset is highest among all groupings.

In rural areas, households are divided into cultivators and non-cultivators. The data shows that 1.4 per cent non-cultivator households do not have any asset, and those who have, the value of their assets is Rs 785,000 compared to Rs 2,207,000 for the cultivator households.

In urban areas, households are divided as self-employed and other households. About 0.3 per cent self-employed do not have any asset, and among those who have, the value of their asset is Rs 4,151,000. Far more other households do not possess any asset and their percentage is 2.7, and the value of the asset who own is also almost half at Rs 2,211,000.

The data shows that 35 per cent of the rural population are in debt, and the average debt was Rs 59,748. Indebtedness among cultivator households was 40.3 per cent, and among non-cultivators was 28.2 per cent.

As for urban areas, indebtedness is 22 per cent. The debt per household in urban areas was Rs 120,336. Indebtedness among self-employed households was 27.5 per cent while in others it was 20.6 per cent.


There are great inter-state variation in indebtedness. Rural areas in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Telangana have more than 35 per cent indebtedness, while in Delhi, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, it is less than 10 per cent of indebtedness. In Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, urban area indebtedness is over 35 per cent. Urban areas of Delhi, Meghalaya, Chandigarh, and Daman & Diu have less than 10 per cent indebtedness. Debt asset ratio in rural areas is 3.8 per cent lower than 4.4 per cent in urban areas.

The survey data thus presents a grim scenario, both for rural and urban areas of the country, which need urgent redressal in the light of further worsening of the situation in the last one and half year of lockdowns and containment measures that have brought unprecedented damage to the economy and well-being.

(IPA Service)

Views are personal

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