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).
Central idea: 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.
Dimensions: 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.
Classification: 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. In this edition of the Big Picture we will analyze the Bare Necessities Index from UPSC perspective .
Edited Excerpts from the debate
What is the main objective of the ‘Bare Necessities Index’?
Every Economic Survey tries to introduce some ideas. This year, BNI is a welcome addition to that tradition.
The “basic needs” approach to economic development focuses on minimum specified quantities of basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, water and sanitation that are necessary to prevent ill health and under nourishment.
The Bare Necessities Index (BNI) is an attempt to quantify this approach to economic development using data from National Statistical Office (NSO).
It is created for all States/Union Territories by employing data at State Level.
What are the recent government initiatives to provide these bare necessities?
Government has made constant efforts through network of schemes like
Swachh Bharat Mission
National Rural Drinking Water Programme
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
Saubhagya Yojana (Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana)
How to reduce the variation in the access to bare necessities across the board?
Earlier, bare necessities were only ‘roti’, ‘kapda’ and ‘makan’. Now, the scope has been extended to access to gas cylinders, drinking water, sanitation etc. Things are now happening at the micro level.
These have become the important aspect of policy making to ensure effective functioning of policies at the ground level.
India is a country of inequalities, despite various interventions towards income redistribution.
India, being a welfare state strives to establish equality of opportunity for all of its population.
However, even today, on one side, the rich of the country continue to make extravagant purchases, while the poor of the country continue to struggle for basic necessities.
To reduce the variation, the Government needs to place greater reliance on socio-economic policies, which are associated at high levels of uncertainty with improved access to basic needs on the part of poorer communities and people.
Access to bare necessities has improved across the country and is highest in Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, while it is lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura,
Is India going beyond ‘roti’, ‘kapda’, ‘makan’?
Since the 1950s, the idea of “minimum needs”, can be viewed as a process of providing the “bare necessities of life” to citizens has been around in India.
A family’s ability to access bare necessities – such as housing, water, sanitation, electricity and clean cooking fuel – have therefore been regarded as an important barometer of economic development in academic and policymaking circles.
However, much of India has moved from a time when ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ were its prime worries.
This change became evident during the lockdown. During the start of the pandemic, the lockdown completely exempted what we used to call as essential goods and services.
It added electricity, TV, telephones, Internet etc., to the list.
The Bare Necessities Index is meant to measure the progress in delivery of "the bare necessities." It calls for effective targeting of poor population be they in urban or rural areas or across states.
What is the Bare Necessities Index?
The BNI measures access to “the bare necessities” for households in rural areas, urban areas and at the all India level.
Source Data: The data is sourced from two National Statistical Office (NSO) Rounds on drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and housing condition in India: 69th (2012) and 76th (2018).
Created for: All States/UTs by employing the data at State level.
Other facilities (Kitchen type: Ventilation of the dwelling unit, Access of the household to bathroom, public/community use with payment, electricity etc.)
Important Government Schemes
Swachh Bharat Mission-Rural and Urban
SBM-Rural: It aims to attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October, 2019 by providing access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country.
SBM-Urban: It aims to achieve 100 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF) status and 100 per cent scientific processing of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) being generated in the country
Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY): The scheme aims to provide housing for all in urban and rural areas by 2022
Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana: Saubhagya aims to achieve universal household electrification by providing electricity connections to all willing un-electrified households in rural areas and all willing poor households in urban areas in the country, by March, 2019.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): It’s objective is to provide clean cooking fuel to poor households with a target to provide 8 crore deposit free LPG connection