Rural-Urban Bardhaman: Few Reflections

Employment: The Census of India 2011 registered 17.30 lakh households in District Barddhaman (10.71 Lakh rural and 6.59 lakh urban households). In the same year i.e. 2011-12, the number of households registered under MGNREGA was 9.85 lakh and were issued job cards. Out of these households, 3.78 lakh demanded employment meaning 44% job card holders provided employment but only 3.2% provided with 100 days employment (3500 households), the figures for preceding periods i.e. 2009-10 and 2010-11 were 17,219 and 29,531 respectively. The block wise average wage per household was Rs. 2851 (Jamuria), Rs. 3988 (Bardhaman-I) and Rs. 4474 (Katwa-II) and corresponding average wage per person days was Rs. 128, Rs. 130 and Rs. 129 respectively for the three blocks mentioned above. There is high demand for employment as 9.85 lakh households demanded work out of the total 10.71 lakh rural households whereas only 44% could get some sort of job.

This suggests rethinking and opening up of new micro avenues of job creation to counter high demands of employment but could this be met in conventional way? Another question is to asked is whether providing 100 days employment to a handful of households will bring people out of the poverty net.

Poverty & Health:

According to MDG-India Country Report 2015

Poverty Head Count Ratio for West Bengal
1990 est 1993-94 2004-05 2011-12 Likely Achievement in 2015 Target 2015
40.92 39.40 34.30 19.98 19.37 20.46

According to District Development Report for Bardhaman, 2005

Rural Poverty in Bardhaman District, 2005
Total no. of households No. of households below poverty line Rural poverty (%) Rank in state
Bardhaman 1 40475 13641 33.70 18
Bardhaman 2 33244 7208 21.68 4
Urban Poverty in Bardhaman District, 2005
Total no. of households No. of households below poverty line Urban poverty (%) Rank in state
Bardhaman 54288 9753 17.97 1

The tables very clearly signifies the decrease in Poverty Head Count Ratio but what needs to be looked at is the criteria on which these data have been collected. As it’s stated earlier that these MDG goals are not separable, we need to verify the sources. Though it can be concluded that poverty is more or less evenly distributed over both the blocks and municipalities in the district Bardhaman, and incidence of urban poverty is much lower than that of rural poverty.

According to Dr. Debroy these indicators must be looked at carefully since many were interconnected. “Suppose no infant dies, then you have many malnourished children that have survived. What does that do to the ‘underweight children’ parameter? One should not make quick conclusions on the basis of such parameters”.

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