Given the speed at which the data was put out, and the statistical system’s propensity to make major goof ups in recent times, the data may well change, but what’s interesting is that other data corroborate the direction and magnitude of change. The Census shows that the proportion of houses with concrete roofs has risen from 19.8% of the total in 2001 to 29% in 2011; for houses with access to electricity, the numbers rose from 55.9% to 67.3%, and in the case of telephones, it rose from 9.1% to 63.2%.
What’s even more interesting is the story at the disaggregated level. Though the 2011-12 data on this is a year away, it’s unlikely the distribution is very different from that in 2009-10. Assuming that’s true, for some states, the fall in poverty levels was nearly double the national average over the five years—9.9% for Andhra Pradesh and 10.6% for Tamil Nadu. And, in the case of caste groups, the Census showed the proportion of SCs with houses that had concrete roofs rose from 13.14% to 21.93% while for STs it rose from just 6.12% to an equally low 10.11%. In the case of access to electricity, it rose from 44.32% to 59.02% for SCs, and from 36.51% to 51.7% in the case of STs. And, analysis of NSS data showed poverty levels for STs fell by 1.1% per annum between 1993-94 and 2004-05 but by 5.1% between 2004-05 and 2009-10; poverty levels for SCs fell by 2% and 4% in the two periods; and for Muslims the relevant numbers are 2.1% and 5.8%, respectively. Higher GDP growth is the most inclusive and trickle-down friendly policy anyone can think of.