Reports indicate that the quality of life in Bharat under the present central dispensation has seen improvement across several parameters. According to the economic survey for 2020-21, there is a clear improvement in “bare necessities” such as housing, water, sanitation, electricity, and clean cooking oil and these have seen an upgradation across all states in the country in 2018 compared to 2012.
The first BNI (Bare Necessities Index) has been published as a part of the economic survey 2020-2021. As per the survey, states such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat had the highest access to the bare necessities while it was the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Tripura.
“The improvements are widespread…,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The index uses existing National Statistical Office (NSO) survey data (rounds 69 (2012) and rounds 76 (2018). The index summarises 26 indicators on five dimensions of access to water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities which include types of kitchen, ventilation in the residence, kind of fuel used for cooking, sanitation facilities, and access to electricity among others.
The indicators used to capture the availability and quality of housing, access to a bathroom, kitchen, toilet, drinking water, waste discharge facilities, clean cooking fuel, and disease-free environment.
“Access to the bare necessities has improved disproportionately more for the poorest households when compared to the richest households across rural and urban areas. The improvement in equity is particularly noteworthy because while the rich can seek private alternatives, lobby for better services, or if need be, move to areas where public goods are better provided for, the poor rarely have such choices”. The survey also points to a positive correlation between access to bare necessities and better health and education outcome. “It was also found that the improved access to the bare necessities has led to improvements in health indicators and in education indicators,” the survey added.
The survey used data from the National Family Health Surveys to correlate the BNI in 2012 and 2018 with infant mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate in 2015-16 and 2019-20 respectively. It observes improvement in child survival as well as decline in still births, malnutrition, and infant mortality with improved access to sanitation and clean drinking water.
The survey also notes that improvement in access to basic necessities has led to an improvement in health indicators and shows that education indicators would certainly show improvements in the coming years. At the same time, however, the survey also points at a significant gap between urban and rural Bharat. Indicating a difference among various income groups, the survey recommends “effective targeting of the needier population” in government schemes.
Center-state coordination with local bodies is of utmost importance if gaps are to be bridged effectively. The local governments should provide civic aminities in urban areas. The survey added that BNI could be constructed at the district level using large annual household survey data to show progress.
This survey report reiterates the point that central schemes are helping the country in the improvement of the wellness index as shown in the National Family Health Survey results.
Earlier, Hindupost had reported on the NFHS stating:
Reports indicate that the benefits derived from central schemes such as the Ujjwala Yojna and the Swacch Bharat Mission have percolated down to the ground helping common people derive the benefits and improve their standard of living as well as the quality of health.
There is much to cheer for Bharat considering the improvement in wellness and health parameters at a time when the world is going through a pandemic induced health crisis.
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