The average household in rural India spends just Rs43 (77 US cents) per head a day, with their urban equivalents consuming almost double, according to new government data. The latest study from the National Sample Survey Office, a huge undertaking every two years, shows that average monthly per capita expenditure for a rural household was just Rs1,281 compared with Rs2,401 in cities. The poorest 10 pc in rural areas - a grouping of about 80m people - get by on just Rs503 on average a month.
, or just 17 rupees a day, according to preliminary data from the survey.
Despite the low absolute numbers, there were sharp increases in household expenditure in 2011-12 compared with 2009-10, with rural families seemingly benefiting as much as their urban equivalents from rising incomes. Average per capita spending in rural areas rose 38 percent over the last two years in current prices - without adjusting for India’s high inflation - and 18 percent on an adjusted basis. Urban expenditure rose 34 percent over the last two years on an unadjusted basis and 13 percent on an adjusted basis, suggesting city-dwellers had been hit more by inflation which has been running at near double figures. The federal government, run by the left-leaning Congress party, sees the rural poor as its core voter support and makes much of its commitment to “inclusive growth” that trickles down to the lowest income groups. Its flagship programme to help the rural poor is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which guarantees 100 days of employment on public works each year for any household that requests it.