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Friday, 22 June 2012 00:00
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Census data confirms growth is inclusive

While many in the UPA continue to argue economic growth is not inclusive, and therefore needs directed physical interventions (like the 4.5% sub-quota for Muslims), fresh data from the Census shows this is not true. Between 2001 and 2011, the Census shows rapid improvement in the material well-being of Schedule Castes—the picture hasn’t improved as much for Scheduled Tribes, and data for OBCs and Muslims has not been presented as yet. In the case of houses, for instance, the proportion of houses with concrete roofs has risen from 19.8% in 2001 to 29% at the national level—for SCs, it 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, the numbers for all Indians rose from 55.9% to 67.3%, while it rose from 44.32% to 59.02% for SCs, and from 36.51% to 51.7% in the case of STs. In the case of telephones, thanks to mobile phones mainly, it rose from 9.1% to 63.2% for all Indians, from 3.47% to 53.14% for SCs and from 2.51% to 34.82% for STs.

None of this, though, should come as a surprise since India’s economic growth has been the highest in this period, and so poverty reduction has also been the highest and rise in consumption has grown in a commensurate manner. Thanks to higher GDP growth, between 2004-05 and 2009-10, wages for casual female workers in rural areas, NSS data shows, rose 14.6% per annum as compared to just 3.5% per annum in the 1999-2000 to 2004-05 period. As a result, poverty levels fell by 2.33% per annum between 1993-94 and 2004-05 (from 47.8% to 37.1%) and by a faster 4.5% per annum between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the years of the highest GDP growth.

Since it is impossible to hire only one group of persons, the fruits of the higher growth have largely been evenly distributed, subject to, of course, education qualifications and, for instance, the overall growth of a state—Hindu upper-caste household’s annual income, analysis based on NCAER’s all-India survey for 2004-05 shows, goes up from R27,650 when the head of the household is illiterate to R135,535 when he’s a graduate; similarly, Muslims in the low-growth Uttar Pradesh had an annual household income of R53,351 in 2004-05 versus R60,645 for Muslims at the all-India level. Analysis of NSS data by Sukhadeo Thorat and Amaresh Dubey shows that poverty levels have fallen the fastest for the more disadvantaged groups. 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 policy you can think of.


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