Skip to main content

Gujarat’s rural development fails to touch socially vulnerable sections

By Rajiv Shah 
Gujarat’s rural poverty, if a section of the senior economists are to be believed, has gone down considerably. Prof Bibek Debroy, an economist who is particularly close to the present Gujarat establishment, has pointed towards how, thanks to a very high growth rate in rural areas, poverty reduction has come about as a “trickle-down effect.” Quoting National Sample Survey (NSS) figures, he says, “The real story is in rural Gujarat, where there has been a very sharp drop in poverty, significantly more than all-India trends. In rural Gujarat, the benefits of growth have trickled down. In 2004-05, the BPL number for rural Gujarat was 9.2 million. That’s still a large number, but is significantly smaller than the 12.9 million in 2004-05.”
Even then, he is forced to admit, in his latest book, “Gujarat: Governance for Growth and Development”, that “people may also be poor because they are stuck in subsistence-level agriculture and have no other employment opportunities.” Despite this, he is not clear how poverty reduction has affected different sections of society. He believes, there may be a “danger of looking at the problem of poverty with a distorted lens” by bringing them under such categories as scheduled castes, schedules tribes, other backward classes and Muslims. In fact, he wonders, “Are they deprived because they belong to these collective categories? Or are they deprived because they lack access to the public or collective private goods we have mentioned?” He refuses to give an authentic answer.
Debroy may not be concerned on how poverty reduction has impacted different categories of rural population in Gujarat, but the source that he has sought to quote provides enough evidence to suggest that poverty reduction is yet to impact the deprived sections of the rural areas. The NSS survey which he quotes, in fact, suggests that the latest economic reforms, under the “neo-liberal” guise, have not in any way worked in favour of the disadvantaged sections of rural Gujarat. Asset ownership can be an important factor suggesting where things stand for which section.
The NSS data, put out by the Government of India, and quoted by Debroy, go to suggest that only 1.2 per cent Gujarat’s scheduled tribe (ST) households and 2.7 per cent of the state’s scheduled caste (SC) households own more than four hectares (ha) of land. This is in sharp contrast to a huge 17 per cent of higher castes owning more than four ha of land. The figures find their place in “Employment and Unemployment Situation among Social Groups in India”, published in September 2012.
Worse, great majority of ST households, 92.1 per cent, own either no land or less than one ha of land. Things are not very different for SC households – 89.4 per cent of the SC households own either no land or less than one ha of land. As one climbs up the social ladder, things start looking better – among the other backward class (OBC) households, those owning no land or less than one ha of land are 81.6 per cent, and the relative percentage further falls to 52.2 per cent for the upper caste households, characterized as “others” by the NSS.
In fact, NSS figure, which are based on primary survey among all Indian states during 2009-10, suggest that land owning pattern in Gujarat lately appears to have actually tilted in favour of the upper castes more than any other state. Thus, 17 per cent of the upper caste households owning four ha or more is higher than most states, except Madhya Pradesh (22.7 per cent). The all-India average of upper caste farmers owning more than four ha is just five per cent. What is even more interesting is that, as against 52.2 per cent of upper caste households, owning less one ha of land in Gujarat, the all-India average is a whopping 75.1 per cent.
The NSS report explains, while carrying out the survey, “the area of land possessed included land ‘owned’, ‘leased in’ and ‘land neither owned nor leased in’ (i.e. encroached) by the household but excluded land ‘leased out’.” However, as for the “piece of land under the possession of the household, if the household did not have the title of ownership and also did not have lease agreement for the use of land transacted, such land was considered.” In collecting information regarding land possessed, “the actual position as obtained on the date of survey was considered.”
The NSS survey suggests that poor or no land ownership with ST and SC households forces majority of the population of these two categories to wage labour. Thus, in Gujarat, 51.9 per cent of the state’s ST households and 66.4 per cent of SC households depend on wage labour, mainly in agriculture, for their survival. This is quite high compared to several other states, with the all-India average being 46.5 per cent for ST and 58.9 per cent for SC households.
Here, again, the percentage of households depending on rural labour for their livelihood goes down as one climbs up the social ladder – it is 36.4 per cent among Gujarat’s OBC households and a mere 18.1 per cent among the upper caste (those falling in the “others” category) households. The all-India trend suggests that, to quote from the report, “in rural India, proportion of households depending on self-employment was highest among the households in residual social group categorized as others – mainly upper castes — (57.4 per cent), followed by OBC households (51.3 per cent), ST (44 per cent) and SC (30.7 per cent).” On the other hand, it adds, the “proportion of rural labour households was much higher among ST (46.5 per cent) and SC (about 58.9 per cent) households than that among the OBC households (37.3 per cent) and ‘others’ category of households (26.2 per cent).”
The NSS figures throw further light on the ability of different caste groups to spend money in the rural areas. Recording it under the term monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE), which indicates the purchasing power of a person or a group of persons, the figures show a very interesting picture. As expected, the ST group has the lowest MPCE, Rs 879, but what is particularly disconcerting is that it is worse than majority of Indian states.
The ST households’ MPCE is higher in Andhra Pradesh (Rs 999), Assam (Rs 1,032), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 1,370), Haryana (Rs 1,401), Karnataka (Rs 901), Kerala (Rs 1,208), Maharashtra (Rs 961), Punjab (Rs 1.510), Rajasthan (Rs 984), Tamil Nadu (Rs 989), Uttarakhand (Rs 1,016), and J&K (Rs 1,223). The tribals of only backward states such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are found to have better purchasing capacity compared to Gujarat.
As for SCs, Gujarat fares better than many states, with an MPCE of Rs 1,088. The states with a higher MPCE are – Andhra Pradesh Rs 1,155, Haryana Rs 1,165, J&K Rs 1,186, Kerala Rs 1,400, Himachal Pradesh Rs 1,350, Punjab Rs 1,271 and Uttarakhand Rs 1,064. Interesting though it may seem, OBCs’ MPCE is found to be worse than that of SCs, with Rs 1,038, which is lower than a large number of states, including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
Those forming the “others” category (mainly upper castes) are found to have an MPCE of Rs 1,590 in Gujarat, which is much higher than not only ST, SC and OBC categories, but also higher than the national average of Rs 1,281, indeed a large number of states.
The latest NSS data corroborate what a recent research paper, published in “The Brown Journal of World Affairs”, titled “Has Anything Changed? Deprivation, Disparity, and Discrimination in Rural India” by Raghav Gaiha Ganesh, Thapa Katsushi, Imai Vani and S. Kulkarni, has to say, that “despite glowing accounts of how well the Indian economy has performed in recent years, India’s traditionally disadvantaged groups remain mired in acute poverty.”
Quoting a 2004-05 survey, it says, “Quota legislation in India entitles the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes to places in educational institutions, government employment, and legislatures.” While these quotas were hailed as a major breakthrough in affirmative action, the paper finds out how, “in addition to lack of endowments (e.g., land, education), the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes get lower returns to such endowments compared to non-scheduled households.”

Comments

TRENDING

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Environment governance in small cities: Need for external intervention, capacity building

By IMPRI Team  The debate over environmental degradation has acquired substantial traction in recent years. Governments, civil communities and international organisations are all working to mitigate the environmental costs of economic expansion and growth. These reforms have also brought to light the concept of environmental governance in emerging towns, which refers to political changes aimed at influencing environmental activities and outcomes. It is under this backdrop that the #IMPRI Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a talk on Small Cities and Environmental Governance in Gujarat and West Bengal: Need for External Intervention or Capacity Building? as a part of #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of Cities – #CityConversations on January 28, 2022. The talk was chaired by Dr Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, an Associate Professor, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan and a Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI, New Delhi. The