What is a Bare Necessities Index?

Economic Survey 2021: What is a Bare Necessities Index?

The BNI summarises 26 key indicators from five dimensions - water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities

Representative Image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Finance Ministry in its Economic Survey for 2020-21 has introduced a new metric to gauge progress on the quality of bare necessities available such as drinking water, sanitation, shelter, electricity and LPG called the Bare Necessities Index (BNI). 

The index has been developed as a means of assessing economic development using the "basic needs" approach. This approach sets minimum specified quantities of 26 basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, water, and sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities. 

It has been defined based on data collected by the National Statistical Office on the abovementioned dimensions in 2012 and 2018.

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A BNI value has a range of 0 to 1, with 0 being the least desirable and 1 being the most desirable score.

A map on the survey shows that BNI has tremendously improved in the country between 2012 and 2018. 



In 2012, only Delhi and Goa had a BNI score of over 0.7 for both urban and rural households. In 2018, nine states and Union Territories — Kerala, Goa, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi, Sikkim, and Mizoram — logged a score of more than 0.7.

The number of states who posted an unideal score of below 0.5 has fallen from 12 to 4.