Poverty growing in some regions, social groups: Report
New Delhi: Though overall poverty in India is reducing, it is increasingly becoming concentrated within certain regions and among some social groups, a new report on rural development released Thursday said.
"In 1993-94, nearly 50 percent of the rural poor lived in seven states -- Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This rose to 65 percent in 2011-12," according to the "India Rural Development Report 2012-13" released Thursday.
The report was prepared by IDFC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the private IDFC Limited.
The report said these states, along with Rajasthan, also fare worst on education levels, child and maternal health and penetration of healthcare services in rural areas.
Only 18 percent of rural households have access to all three basic services -- drinking water within the premises, sanitation and electricity -- while 20 percent have none of these, it said.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who released the report, said: "The story has not been positive in terms of social infrastructure like sanitation and drinking water."
Poverty is markedly higher among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes who together constituted 44 percent of the rural poor in 2009-10.
The report highlighted the need to develop new strategies for farm livelihoods.
It said income from farm livelihoods is no longer sufficient for a household, especially for smaller and marginal farmers who make up 85 percent of farm holdings.
There was a need to encourage new crop models for them, and revive traditional crops like millets that suit dry lands, the researchers recommended.
The report said non-farm income is becoming increasingly important, with 43 percent of rural families relying on non-farm employment as their major source of income.
Thus, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has become more important. It has provided an average of 40-50 days of employment per year to about 25 percent of all rural households.
The scheme holds considerably greater potential, which can be unlocked by ensuring that good quality assets are built, the report found.
Ramesh said: "I think it is possible for us to make more durable community assets. The government will shortly announce changes in the NREGA to incorporate this."
The report was prepared by IDFC Foundation in collaboration with the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Institute for Rural Management - Anand, Gujarat, and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai.