Agricultural growth has been very slow, and rural areas without connectivity have grown less than globally-connected cities. English-speaking urbanites have got high paid jobs while rural folks have not. Still, has prosperity bypassed villages?
Not at all, says the latest NSS survey. Between 1993-94 and 2004-05: Per capita consumption of edible oils rose by 30% in rural areas, and 18% in urban India.
The proportion of rural households using cooking gas rose six-fold, from 2% to 11.7%, while the urban proportion doubled to 59%.
The proportion of rural households using electricity rose from 34% to 54%. The urban proportion rose from 74% to 94%. Purchases of readymade garments rose by 75%, and of hosiery products threefold, in both rural and urban areas.
Refrigerator use increased from 1% to 4% of rural households, and from 12% to 32% of urban households. Between 1999-00 and 2004-05, the proportion of TV households rose from 19% to 26% in rural areas, and from 59% to 66% in urban.
Clearly, rural areas lag well behind urban areas. But equally clearly, growth has not bypassed rural areas. Between 1999-00 and 2004-05, poverty declined from 26% to 22%. That is, 44 million people rose above the poverty line…
The NSSO has data on the poorest of the poor: those who say they go hungry in some or all months of the year. Between 1993-94 and 2004-05, the proportion of rural households hungry at some time in the past year fell from 5.5% to 2.6%. More than half the once-hungry in rural areas ceased to be so. In urban areas hunger almost vanished: the proportion of hungry households fell from 1.9% to 0.6%.
Food for thought? Heres the full report.