Socio-economic Census Paints Grim Picture of Rural India

New Delhi: The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 today painted a grim picture of rural India, indicating that one out of three families living in villages is landless and depends on manual labour for livelihood.

The SECC 2011, also the first paperless census conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government, said 23.52 per cent rural families have no literate adult above 25 years, suggesting a poor state of education among rural masses.

The census, carried out in 640 districts under the aegis of the Rural Development Ministry, was released jointly by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh here.

According to the census, there are a total number of 24.39 crore households in the country, of which 17.91 crore live in villages. Of these, 10.69 crore households are considered as deprived.

The deprivation data reveal that 5.37 crore (29.97 per cent) households in rural areas are “landless deriving a major part of their income from manual labour”. As many as 2.37 crore (13.25 per cent) families in villages live in houses of one room with ‘kaccha’ walls and roof.

It further said 21.53 per cent, or 3.86 crore, families living in villages belong to SC/ST categories.

Releasing the census, Jaitley said, “It’s after seven-eight decades that we have this document after 1932 of the caste census… It’s going to be very important document for all policy makers both at central and state governments… this document will help us target groups for support in terms of policy planning.”

The data, Singh said, “addresses the multi-dimensionality of poverty and provides a unique opportunity for a convergent, evidence based planning with a Gram Panchayat as unit”.

Singh added a caveat, saying though the name of the census suggests caste, it does not include castes.

“The name of the report indicates (caste), but caste is not reflected in our data … still the name is Socio Economic and Caste Census,” he said.

Just 4.6 per cent of all rural households in the country pay income tax while such households with salaried income are close to 10 per cent, the census found

The percentage of Scheduled Caste (SC) households paying income tax was 3.49 per cent while Scheduled Tribe (ST) tax-paying rural households were mere 3.34 per cent, the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 said.

This is the first Census released after 1932 and contains various details with regard to specific regions, communities, caste and economic groups and measures the progress of the households in India.

The census survey, which was carried out in all the 640 districts of the country, pegged rural households at 17.91 crore. The total households in the country — rural plus urban — stand at 24.39 crore.

Of all the rural households, 7.05 crore, or 39.39 per cent, was termed as ‘Excluded Households’ which did not have an income of over Rs 10,000 per month, or did not own either an automobile, fishing boat or kisan credit card.

While 5.39 crore (30.10 per cent) out of total rural households depended on crop cultivation for sustenance, 9.16 crore (51.14 per cent) earned income through manual casual labour. Some 44.84 lakh worked as domestic helps, 4.08 lakh were rag pickers and 6.68 lakh beggars.

Of all the rural salaried households, 5 per cent earned salaries from the government while those employed in the private sector constituted 3.57 per cent of the total households.

Public sector-employed households made up 1.11 per cent of the total.

The Census said 94 per cent of the rural households owned a house with 54 per cent having 1-2 room dwellings.

Landless ownership was 56 per cent of the total rural population, with 70 per cent of SCs and 50 per cent of STs being landless owners.

As many as 39 per cent of the rural households are classified by the Census as automatically excluded and 48.50 per cent meeting one or the more deprivation criteria.

Over 11 per cent rural households possessed refrigerators and 20.69 per cent had either an automobile or a fishing boat.