Feb 14, 2008
A new government survey says 20% of rural India lives on Rs 12 a day. Just a few months ago another survey had said 77% of the country survived on less than Rs 20. Contrary to the expectations of proponents of neo-liberal regime, it appears gains of a growing economy are not trickling down.
It seems that the policies made in Parliament have gone just one way, away from the poor.
The latest reminder is a survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation, which is asking a question - What can you do with just Rs 12 a day?
Twenty per cent people in rural India have only Rs 12 a day, of which each person spends just Rs 7 on food.
In Orissa and Chhattisgarh, 44% people live this life.
Ever wondered why people migrate from villages to cities?
The survey says life is a shade better in urban India where 22% people spend Rs 19 daily. In urban Bihar, 56% live on this amount.
The Minister for Rural Development says the government's policies are insensitive.
''There are lobbies helping the rich, not the poor. There are now hundred thousand crorepatis (millionaires). But there is no clear policy for poor,'' said Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Rural Development Minister.
The devil as usual lies in the detail. On an average, people in villages spend 10% on fuel, 8% on milk, 5% on sugar and 3% on education.
That's why any crisis, especially medical, pushes them towards loan sharks as rural Indians earn and spend. Saving has become a luxury.
Economists feel the government cannot pretend to be surprised by the dismal figures.
''Imagine spending Rs 7-8 per person on food. Then in rural households, the man gets food first the woman last. That means weak women, weak children and that is why there's such high incidence of stunted children,'' said Rajiv Kumar, Director, ICRIER.
The Parliament makes policies for the nation. But policies have ended up creating two nations, with one getting richer.
Surveys are just a reminder about the other bigger entity getting poorer.