SCs in TN better off than FCs in Jharkhand

National averages hide State-level dynamics; SCs, STs worse off on average.

July 07, 2015 04:45 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:05 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

New data from the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 and the UNICEF’s Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) show that while India’s Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have worse socio-economic indicators, this disadvantage is varies substantially depending on the State where they live.

So SC and ST children in Tamil Nadu and Kerala are less likely to be underweight than OBC and forward caste children in States like Jharkhand and Gujarat. Similarly, SC households in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are more likely to own a vehicle than ‘other’ households in West Bengal or Bihar.

The RSOC, carried out on a nationally representative sample of one lakh households, was conducted in 2013-14 and made public by The Hindu on Monday, although it has not yet been officially released. The SECC, which contains data on the socio-economic status of all rural households, was conducted in 2011 and released on Friday.

Both sets of data show that SC and ST households remain significantly worse off on average. Rates of stunting and severe stunting in children under the age of five are highest among SC and ST children with ST children faring the worst. For both stunting and underweight, OBCs and ‘others’ have substantially better indicators.

However, the national averages hide State-level dynamics. Among States with substantial SC populations, Kerala, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh have the lowest levels of underweight SC children. Therefore, an SC child in these States is less likely to be underweight than an ‘other’ category child in Gujarat, Jharkhand or West Bengal.

Among States with significant ST populations, the north-eastern States have lower levels of ST children underweight than ‘other’ category children in most of the northern and eastern States, as well as Gujarat.

Changing dynamics Similar is the case with SECC data. Nationally, ‘other’ households have far better socio-economic indicators than SC and ST households. However, once State location is factored in, the dynamics change. A far higher proportion of SC households in Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Telangana own vehicles compared to ‘other’ category households in Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal.

An ST household in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur is also more likely to have a family member earning more than Rs. 10,000 per month than an ‘other’ category household in Bihar, Odisha, and Jharkhand. More SC households in Karnataka pay income tax than ‘other’ households in Gujarat.

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