Rural areas see middle class rise

Rural areas see middle class rise

Breaking stereotypes, islands of prosperity are emerging in rural India, where a small population of lower-middle class possesses bikes, cars and refrigerators.

Independent India’s first Socio-Economic and Caste Census, aimed at helping the government ascertain the root cause of poverty, stated that though the situation in the countryside is grim, there is a positive change. 

The report, released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday, states that about 20 per cent of the rural households possess motorized vehicles which require registration.
The vehicles they own include two, three and four wheelers (motorcycles, tempos and cars) and motorised fishing boats.

About 11 per cent of the rural households own refrigerators. It obviously indicates a lifestyle which is closely linked to the urban centres.

The data on mobile phones reveals a striking fact that communication tools have crossed the barrier of class and has become essential for all sections of society, except for those who are extremely deprived. The data reveal that over 68 per cent of the households have mobile phones. It is not clear whether this comparatively well off section has disposable income. But it is quite apparent that the section is integrated to the urban life with vehicles and communication tools.

However, the two socially-deprived sections of the country are slow in economic mobility. The data revealed that only over 12 per cent of the Scheduled Caste households possess motorised vehicles (fishing boat, car or bike) and 6 per cent of them own refrigerators. Among Scheduled Tribes, over 9 per cent have motorised vehicles and only 3 per cent has refrigerators.

This emerging lower-middle class is very weak and can be inferred by the fact that only 3 per cent of the rural households are graduates and only over 5 per cent are educated above the higher secondary school.

Their vulnerability is also evident in one more aspect. Only 4.58 per cent of the total rural households pay income tax.

Almost 94 per cent of the rural households own a house with 54 per cent possessing 1 to 2 room dwellings.

In all, there are 24.39 crore households in the country. Of all the rural salaried households, 5 per cent earned salaries from the government, while those employed in the private sector constituted 3.57 per cent.

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