Rural Households’ Access to Basic Amenities in India: Deprivation and Socio-economic Exclusions

From Social Change

Basic amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity and drainage are essential for a secure, dignified and healthy human life. Delivery of such amenities in India has been inadequate, which is reflected in the pitiable standard of living and widespread poverty, especially in rural areas. Very often, such deprivations vary spatially and across socio-economic sections of the society, leading to abysmal exclusions. The excluded sections, deprived of basic amenities, are also deprived of their capacity to benefit from the opportunities and developmental efforts provided by the government. This has led to the creation of a vicious cycle of deprivation and destitution for the rural poor.

Thus, there is clearly a need to chart out group-specific (economic and social) policy measures to tackle severe deprivation in rural India and to provide safeguards to its marginalised sections for equal access to basic amenities.

The findings of this article call for immediate action towards providing adequate basic amenities with inclusive and group-specific provisions with a focus on socio-spatial situatedness of households in rural India so as to enhance the overall quality of life and well-being.

Abstract

Access to basic amenities such as drinking water, sanitation, electricity and drainage is imperative for a decent quality of life. The need for these basic amenities has been universally recognised and has been a major plank in the formulation of several policies and programmes in India. While rural households in India have witnessed a gradual improvement in the access to basic amenities in proportional terms, they continue to face high levels of deprivation. Adding to such a grim scenario are appalling socio-economic disparities and exclusions that have been highlighted in this article using data from the Census of India, 2001 and 2011, and the National Sample Survey (NSS) Housing Conditions Round unit records data, 1993 and 2008/09. Determinants of households having access to basic amenities have been estimated using an econometric exercise and the contribution of caste-based factors of the gap in accessing basic amenities among various social groups has been estimated using the decomposition technique on household-level information and NSS unit record data 2008/09. Households belonging to the weaker sections of society, such as, the poor, wage labourers, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, have been found to be the most deprived, neglected and excluded. The findings of this article call for immediate action towards providing adequate basic amenities with inclusive and group-specific provisions with a focus on socio-spatial situatedness of households in rural India so as to enhance the overall quality of life and well-being.

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Article details
Arjun Kumar
Rural Households’ Access to Basic Amenities in India: Deprivation and Socio-economic Exclusions
Social Change December 2015 45: 561-586, doi:10.1177/0049085715602789

 

 

     
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