Sunday, March 25, 2012

State of Families in India After 65 Years of Independence: Is Country Shining?

The Federal Home Ministry has recently released the final figures of the first phase of Census 2011 known as Houselisting and Housing Census in New Delhi. The latest Census has thrown up figures that would shock country planners. Despite significant improvement in living standards over the last census of 2001, the 2011 figures show a picture that is far from respectable for a country aiming to be on the global high-table of decision making.
According to the present Census, these and many other contrasting facts of life have come out in Census 2011. The data casts new light on a country in the throes of a complex transition, where millions have access to state-of-the-art technologies and consumer goods — but a larger number lacks access to the most rudimentary facilities.
The data states that India is now overwhelmingly made up of nuclear families — a dramatic change from just a generation ago, where joint families were the norm. Seventy per cent of the households consist of only one couple. Indian families are overwhelmingly likely — 86.6 per cent of them — to live in their own houses, but 37.1 per cent live in a single room.
Bold Paradox
Sample this: In nuclear India capable of routinely sending satellites into space, 31 per cent - 10 crore - out of 33 crore households across the country use kerosene for lighting homes. Approximately 7 per cent of the urban houses (presumably slums) use kerosene while 43 per cent rural homes use the fuel, indicating that they either do not have power supply or cannot afford it. This figure is an improvement over 2001 when 42 per cent households used kerosene for lighting purposes.
If you thought that almost everybody in India was rushing to buy a car, just sample this: Only 5 per cent - some 1.65 crore -- families in the country own a personal four wheeler. Only 9.7 per cent - some 1 crore -- of the 11 crore urban families have a four wheeler.
Rapid Economic Growth
Despite India’s rapid economic growth, nearly 15 per cent families live in houses that have roofs made of grass, thatch, bamboo, wood, mud etc. Ten years ago, the figure was 21. 9 per cent.
The Census says only 32 per cent households use tap water for drinking from a treated (filtration plant) source. Only 47 per cent families have source of water (tap, well, etc) within the houses, while 18 per cent fetch drinking water from a source located more than 500 meters (villages) and 100 meters (urban) from their homes. In urban areas, 70 pc homes have tapped water supply, while just 30 pc enjoy the facility in the rural areas.
The data shows 61 per cent families across the country have kitchen for cooking. Approximately 79 per cent urban homes have it, while the figure is 53 per cent in villages. Surprisingly, 67 per cent of families use firewood, crop residue, cow dung and coal as fuel to cook. Only 29 per cent homes across the country have access to LPG, electricity or bio-gas as fuel for cooking purposes. In the urban areas, 65 per cent of homes have access to LPG while 20. 1 per cent use firewood and 7. 5 per cent kerosene for cooking.
Cellphone Versus Toilets
It noted that 49.8 per cent Indian households defecate in the open but, in sharp contrast, 63.2 per cent households own a telephone connection, 53.2 per cent of them a cell phone. The data also shows that computers with Internet facilities have penetrated just 3.1 per cent of the population.
The data on toilets has reflected the recent concerns raised by Federal Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, whose remark that women demand cell phones but not toilets had created a controversy. Open defecation continues to be a big concern for the country as almost half the population (49.8 per cent) do it. Cultural and traditional reasons and lack of education were the prime reasons for this unhygienic practice.
The figures show that 3.2 per cent people use public toilets. Jharkhand tops the list with 77 per cent households without toilet facilities, followed by 76.6 per cent in Orissa and 75.8 per cent in Bihar.
Need of the Hour
People without latrines especially women as told Prime Ministyer Manmohan Singh in a statement is a shame for the country. This Census proves that issue is serious and demands attention of the federal and provincial levels.
The government should take note of the issue and ensure functioning of sewage treatment plants in local urban bodies to protect the masses from cancer like ailments in India. Pedestrians and cyclists are most vulnerable to accidents their movement on the roads is at mercy of the fast moving vehicle owners as there no cycle tracks on the roads.
After 65 years of independence, it is a national shame that around 50 per cent of the population ease themselves in the open, and a large majority of the rest have access to latrines with no running water or use public toilets which seldom are useable. As far as the government is concerned, it is a regret that it could not fetch to the citizens the basics like toilets, water and hygiene and for the citizens it's a matter of rejoice that they have earned enough penny to make technology touch the ground in the face of cell phones and televisions. With corrupt politicians and industrialists will India ever be able to solve its toilet problem which is getting worse with each passing day. In other words, profit-seeking companies can do a much better job than the government, the way it is working, in providing services in the country.

1 comment:

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