NEW DELHI: Government today released the findings of the long awaited Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 that projects a very grim picture of the rural India and would be used as basis to improve various social welfare schemes for the benefits of poor.
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The Census, which was unveiled jointly by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh, revealed that one out of three families living in villages is landless and depends on manual labour for their livelihood.
SECC 2011, which is the first paperless census conducted on hand-held electronic devices by the government in 640 districts, says that 23.52 per cent rural families have no literate adult above the age of 25 years, indicating the poor state of education among the rural masses.
According to the census, there were a total of 24.39 crore households in the country, of which 17.91 crore lived in villages. Of these, 10.69 crore were considered as deprived households.
The census was done during the UPA-2 regime to identify deprivation in rural areas. It had helped the government to wriggle out of the Rs 32 per day per person (in urban areas) poverty line controversy which drew flak from different quarters.
The UPA government had said that poverty line of Rs 232 for cities will be used for academic purpose and benefits and subsidies under the various social sector schemes would be linked to the SECC.
Releasing the census, Jaitley said, "It is after seven-eight decades that we have this document after 1932 of the caste census...It is going to be very important document for all policy makers both at central government and state governments...this document will help us to target groups for support in terms of policy planning."
Although the name of the census suggests caste but it does not include castes, said Rural Development Minister Singh.
"The name of the report indicates (caste) but caste is not reflected in our data ... still the name is Socio Economic and Caste Census," he said.
The deprivation data presented in the SECC 2011 points out that 5.37 crore (29.97 per cent) households in the rural areas were "landless deriving a major part of their income from manual labour".
As many as 2.37 crore (13.25 per cent) families in villages lived in houses of one room with "kaccha" walls and roof.
It further said that 21.53 per cent (or 3.86 crore) families living in villages belonged to SC/ST categories.
The data, Singh said, "addresses the multi dimensionality of poverty and provides a unique opportunity for a convergent, evidence based planning with a Gram Panchayat as unit".
"SECC data would have meaningful use in housing for all, education and skills thrust, MGNREGA, the National Food Security Act, interventions for differently-abled, interventions for women-led households, and targeting of households/individual entitlements on evidence of deprivation, etc," he added.
The Minister further said the nation was "on the cusp of a huge development shift that will move the numbers of poverty to the names of the village that needs government intervention. The idea is to deal with all aspects of the family simultaneously".
The census data revealed that just 4.6 per cent of all rural households in the country pay income tax.
As for sources of income, 9.16 crore households (51.14 per cent) depend on manual casual labour followed by cultivation (30.10 per cent). It further said 2.5 crore (14.01 per cent) rural families are dependent on income from other sources which include government service, private sector and PSUs.
Besides, 4.08 lakh households fall back on ragpicking while 6.68 lakh depend on begging and charity alms.