Skip to main content

Economic discrimination plagues rural Gujarat's scheduled caste and scheduled tribe households, suggests NSS report

By Rajiv Shah 
Fresh indications have emerged which go to suggest that the latest economic reforms, under the “neo-liberal” guise, have not in any way worked in favour of the disadvantaged sections of the rural population in Gujarat. The latest National Sample Survey (NSS) data, put out by the Government of India, show that only 1.2 per cent Gujarat’s scheduled tribe (ST) households and 2.7 per cent of the state’s scheduled caste (SC) households owned more than four hectares (ha) of land. This is in sharp contrast to a huge 17 per cent of higher castes owning more than four ha of land. The figures find their place in “Employment and Unemployment Situation among Social Groups in India”, published in September 2012.
Worse, great majority of ST households, 92.1 per cent, are marginal farmers; they own either no land or less than one ha of land. Things are not very different for SC households – 89.4 per cent of the SC households own either no land or less than one ha of land. As one climbs up the social ladder, things start looking better – among the other backward class (OBC) households, those owning no land or less than one ha are 81.6 per cent, and the relative percentage further falls to 52.2 per cent for the upper caste households, characterized as “others” by the NSS report.
In fact, NSS figure, which are based on primary survey among all Indian states during 2009-10, suggest that land owning pattern in Gujarat lately appears to have tilted in favour of the upper castes more than any other state. Thus, 17 per cent of the upper caste households owning four ha or more is higher than most states, except Madhya Pradesh (22.7 per cent). The all-India average of upper caste farmers owning more than four ha is just five per cent. Curiously, as against 52.2 per cent of upper caste households, owning less one ha of land in Gujarat, the all-India average is a whopping 75.1 per cent.
Explaining its survey, the NSS report says, while carrying out the survey, “the area of land possessed included land ‘owned’, ‘leased in’ and ‘land neither owned nor leased in’ (i.e. encroached) by the household but excluded land 'leased out'.” However, as for the “piece of land under the possession of the household, if the household did not have the title of ownership and also did not have lease agreement for the use of land transacted, such land was considered.” In collecting information regarding land possessed, “the actual position as obtained on the date of survey was considered.” 
Wage labour: The NSS survey suggests that poor or no land ownership with ST and SC rural households forces majority of the population of these two categories to wage labour. Thus, in Gujarat, 51.9 per cent of the state’s ST households and 66.4 per cent of SC households depend on wage labour, mainly in agriculture, for their survival. This is quite high compared to several other states, with the all-India average being 46.5 per cent for ST and 58.9 per cent for SC households.
Here, again, the percentage of households depending on rural labour for their livelihood goes down as one climbs up the social ladder – it is 36.4 per cent among Gujarat’s OBC households and a mere 18.1 per cent among the upper caste (those falling in the “others” category) households. 
 The all-India trend suggests that, to quote from the report, “in rural India, proportion of households depending on self-employment was highest among the households in residual social group categorized as others – mainly upper castes -- (57.4 per cent), followed by OBC households (51.3 per cent), ST (44 per cent) and SC (30.7 per cent).” On the other hand, it adds, the “proportion of rural labour households was much higher among ST (46.5 per cent) and SC (about 58.9 per cent) households than that among the OBC households (37.3 per cent) and ‘others’ category of households (26.2 per cent).”
Purchasing power: The NSS figures throw further light on the ability of different caste groups to spend money in the rural areas. Recording it under the term monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE), which suggests the purchasing power of a person or a group of persons, the figures show a very interesting picture. As expected, the ST group has the lowest MPCE, Rs 879, but what is particularly disconcerting is that it is worse than majority of Indian states.
The ST households’ MPCE is higher in Andhra Pradesh (Rs 999), Assam (Rs 1,032), Himachal Pradesh (Rs 1,370), Haryana (Rs 1,401), Karnataka (Rs 901), Kerala (Rs 1,208), Maharashtra (Rs 961), Punjab (Rs 1.510), Rajasthan (Rs 984), Tamil Nadu (Rs 989), Uttarakhand (Rs 1,016), and J&K (Rs 1,223). The tribals of only backward states such as Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh are found to have better purchasing capacity compared to Gujarat.
As for SCs, Gujarat fares better than many states, with an MPCE of Rs 1,088. However, here too Gujarat is not No 1. The states with a higher MPCE are – Andhra Pradesh Rs 1,155, Haryana Rs 1,165, J&K Rs 1,186, Kerala Rs 1,400, Himachal Pradesh Rs 1,350, Punjab Rs 1,271 and Uttarakhand Rs 1,064. Interesting though it may seem, OBCs’ MPCE is found to be worse than that of SCs, with Rs 1,038, which is lower than a large number of states, including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
Those forming the “others” category (mainly upper castes) are found to have an MPCE of Rs 1,590 in Gujarat, which is much higher than not only ST, SC and OBC categories. Interestingly, it is also higher than the national average of Rs 1,281, indeed a large number of states.
The latest NSS data corroborate what a recent research paper, published in “The Brown Journal of World Affairs”, titled “Has Anything Changed? Deprivation, Disparity, and Discrimination in Rural India”, written by Raghav Gaiha Ganesh, Thapa Katsushi, Imai Vani and S. Kulkarni, has to say, that “despite glowing accounts of how well the Indian economy has performed in recent years, India’s traditionally disadvantaged groups remain mired in acute poverty.”
Quoting 2004-05 NSS survey, it says, “Quota legislation in India entitles the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes to places in educational institutions, government employment, and legislatures.” While these quotas were hailed as a major breakthrough in affirmative action, the paper finds out how, “in addition to lack of endowments (e.g., land, education), the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes get lower returns to such endowments compared to non-scheduled households.”
Arguing how “caste and ethnic identity undermines motivation”, the paper says, “This is particularly important in designing affirmative action that remains confined to ensuring places in educational institutions, government employment, and legislatures. The overall incidence of poverty in rural India in 2004 to 2005 was high: about a quarter of the households were poor. There was, however, substantial variation across the social groups. Among the scheduled tribes, about 44 percent of the households were poor, compared to 32 percent of scheduled caste households and about 19 percent of non-scheduled households. Not only was the incidence of poverty highest among the scheduled tribes, but so too was the intensity of poverty.”

Comments

TRENDING

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

Poser to Modi: Why is Gujarat not fulfilling Constitutional obligations to minorities?

Counterview Desk
In an open letter, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), a Gujarat-based civil rights organization, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi on infringing upon MCC activists’ constitutional right to protest. Nafees says, they had no other demands except that the Gujarat government should move towards fulfilling the constitutional obligations towards minorities and international treaties to which India is a signatory.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.