What emerges clear from the first ever socio-economic survey is that for 70 percent of India’s 125-crore population, which lives in rural areas, poverty is the way of life.
Rural India is poorer than what was estimated all these years. With the highest income of an earning member in 75 per cent of the rural households not exceeding Rs 5,000 a month, and with 51 per cent households surviving on manual labour as the primary source of income, the socio-economic survey has exposed the dark underbelly of rural India. Whether it was Garibi Hatao or Shining India, all the talk of development has not enabled rural India to emerge out of poverty. Whether we like it or not, poverty has remained robustly sustainable.
This socio-economic survey, undertaken for the first time in the country, defies all the tall claims made by successive governments on poverty reduction. Whichever way you measure it, and whichever way you decipher the survey findings as well as the emerging social trends, the extent of rural poverty exceeds all projections. The reason is obvious. All these years, the effort of mainline economists and policymakers has been to sweep rural poverty under the carpet. In fact, we were never honest in accepting the extent of poverty that existed in the country.