According to the first ever BNI (bare necessities index), released as part of the 2020-21 survey on Friday, access to these is the highest in states such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, while it is the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.
The BNI has been developed for rural, urban and all-India level using data from two NSO (rounds 69 and 76) on drinking water, sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions. The index summarises 26 indicators on five dimensions — water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities (assessed using indicators like access to type of kitchen, ventilation of the dwelling unit, access to a bathroom, electricity and type of fuel used for cooking).
The BNI also indicates that inter-state disparities in the access to “the bare necessities” have declined in 2018 when compared to 2012 across rural and urban areas. Access to “the bare necessities” has improved disproportionately more for the poorest households when compared to the richest households across rural and urban areas.
“The improvement in equity is particularly noteworthy because while the rich can seek private alternatives, lobby for better services, or if need be, move to areas where public goods are better provided for, the poor rarely have such choices,” the survey said.
Data from the National Family Health Surveys have been studied to correlate the BNI in 2012 and 2018 with the infant mortality rate and the under-5 mortality rate in 2015-16 and 2019-20, respectively. The survey reports that improved access to “the bare necessities” has led to improvements in health indicators and correlates with future improvements in education indicators.
In rural India, the highest access to bare necessities in 2018 was recorded in Punjab, Kerala, Sikkim, Goa and Delhi, while the lowest was in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Manipur and Tripura.
In urban India, no state is showing the lowest level of BNI in 2018, and the states showing improvement over 2012 include Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
However, to bridge the gaps, it is recommended that there must be effective convergence in scheme implementation at the Centre-state and local levels. “For this purpose, a BNI based on large annual household survey data can be constructed using suitable indicators and methodology at district level for all/ targeted districts to assess the progress on access to bare necessities,” the report states.