Socio Economic Census Numbers Don’t Lie

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The paperless Socio Economic Census 2011, released in July 2015 by the Government of India, puts to rest several guesstimates about the extent of deprivation and inequality in India. The disturbing data is a reminder that very serious efforts are needed by all stakeholders to minimize deprivation. It also shows that India’s achievements on the socioeconomic front are abysmal and thousands of crores spent have had marginal impact.

The report, as the government has said, will help targeting of policies and schemes better. The Aadhaar card, bank account for all have the potential to cut leakage of funds. Despite this, it all boils down to enhancing governance standards across the country especially by the states and local bodies. Bad governance hurts the poor the most.

Census highlights
Rural poverty level                       – 25.7%
Deprived Households                  – 10.69 crore out of
24.39 total households
Deprived of at least one
socio-economic parameter       – 18.7%
Landless households                    – 56%
Illiterate (rural)                              – 36%,
Education (rural)                          – 5.4% high school,
3.4% graduate

What’s the way out?
• Increase allocation to education and healthcare as a percentage of GDP
• Government should move out of higher education and use the funds for upgrading primary education
• Use video technology for teaching. Speed up digital India plan
• Improve mid-day meals schemes
• Promote adult literacy with innovative schemes
• Cover everyone with health insurance
• Empower gram panchayats with real power with inclusive representation
• Reform syllabus with focus on vocational training, spur creativity and discourage rote learning
The list can run long, but these should help in giving the momentum.

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