The real India - lest we forget
Trust The Hindu to write an excellent article on how (poorly) Indian farmers fare, based on the latest NSSO data. The article also highlights growing inequities, as liberalization has helped the rich get a lot richer.
The collective net worth of 311 Indian billionaires is now Rs.3.64 trillion. This is up 71 per cent from last year, when it was a paltry Rs.2.13 trillion. The tribe has also grown. It now includes 133 new entrants who just months ago were merely millionaires.So, Peter's doing quite well. How about Paul?
The average monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) of farm households across India was Rs.503 in 2003. That is just about Rs.75 above the rural poverty line. And it is an average across regions and classes and income groups. So even this dismal figure hides huge inequities.Its obvious he's not doing well at all. Here's what I found even more alarming -
The data from the NSSO survey on farm spending once again points to the link between poverty and family size. The average household size for farmers was 5.5 at the all-India level. But in those with an MPCE equal to or less than Rs.225, the number goes up to 6.9. On the other hand, households with an MPCE of more than Rs.950 were much smaller. Their average size was 4.1. Broadly, the better off the household, the fewer its members. In the NSSO survey, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh logged the highest average household size of 6.1. The poor tend to have larger families. That is their insurance against higher mortality. Particularly against infant mortality. The logic of "more hands to work" cannot be wished away.I dont recommend robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's clear Paul needs help, though. I dont have any answers, and like most of us, havent done anything about it. For me, writing about the real India keeps me honest and reminds me that there's more to India than South Bombay. But I should get off my butt and actually do something about it.