The findings of Socio-Economic Caste Census of India, which was conducted after vociferous demands by some political parties, has never been released to the public in full.
However, according to data obtained from the rural development ministry, the SECC found 17.97 cr households living in rural India, out of which 49.3% of the households were found to be living in deprivation to some degree or the other.
Out of these, 8.86 cr households, 16 lakh households were classified as ‘poorest of the poor’, the ministry said, quoting the Socio-Economic Caste Census.
These numbers throw new light on the much-contest poverty figures of India.
According to the World Bank, for example, the poverty rate in India had fallen to 12.4% in 2015 from 21% in 2011-12, also the year in which the census was conducted.
Also in 2012, the Indian government’s official estimate for poverty in India was 22%. These rates are calculated using National Sample Survey Organization’s data and are based on a smaller sample size compared to the census.
The government’s figure for 2011-12 was calculated on the basis of a ‘poverty line’ of Rs 816 per head per month for rural areas and Rs 1000 per head per month in urban areas.
The ministry did not disclose the poverty-related findings of the census for urban areas and as such, the overall poverty figure could not be calculated.
However, poverty levels tend to be higher in the rural areas.
The major findings of SECC remains undisclosed by the government for unknown reasons, leading to some reading conspiracy into the move to delay the release of the data.