Children holding plates wait in a queue to receive food at an orphanage run by a non-governmental organisation in Chennai, 2014 (Reuters Image)
The Economic Survey 2021, released by Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) KV Subramanian on January 29, quoted from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book to highlight the progress made in "access to bare necessities".
The survey pointed out that all regions of India, including urban and rural, have improved on the Bare Necessities Index (BNI). The term bare necessities is used to refer to the basic needs of housing, water, sanitation, electricity, and clean cooking fuel.
The BNI was created for all states for 2012 and 2018 using data from two NSO rounds viz., 69th and 76th on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India. An array of states saw surge in access to bare necessities between the six-year period.
"Access to bare necessities is the highest in the States such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat while it is the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Tripura. The improvements are widespread as they span each of the five dimensions viz., access to water, housing, sanitation, micro-environment, and other facilities," the survey read.
Also read: Economic Survey 2021 pegs India's GDP growth at 11.5% in FY22
Data accessed from the National Family Health Surveys indicated that improved access to bare necessities reduced infant mortality and under-five mortality rates, and "correlates with future improvements in education indicators," the Economic Survey added.
To further highlight the importance of access to bare necessities, the survey recalled Indian independence activist Pitambar Pant's call for focus on "minimum needs" during the 1950s.
"No wonder Bollywood’s rhetoric, which often mirrors socio-economic
issues in the country (Desai, 2004), has zoomed in on 'the bare necessities' in movies such as Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan (1974)," it added.
The Economic Survey lauded successive governments for various welfare schemes that improved the access to bare necessities.
"The network of schemes designed to deliver these necessities include inter-alia the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), Saubhagya, and Ujjwala Yojana," the document stated.
"These Schemes were equipped with new features such as use of technology, real time monitoring, geo-tagging of assets, social audit, embedded digital flow of information, and direct benefit transfers wherever possible," it further said.