Survey: An Overall View


Total number of families surveyed ----- 206740Rural families ----- 200106Urban families ----- 6634Names missed out in voter list ----- 134098 (23.09%)Total villages ----- 1314Panchayats ----- 826Blocks ----- 168Districts ----- 23Total wards ----- 45Nagar Nigam areas ----- 3Nagar parishad ----- 1Nagar panchayat areas ----- 4
Social Structure of Surveyed Families

Dalit/mahadalit/tribal ----- 92409 (44.6%)Very backward ----- 50254 (24.31%)Backward ----- 32589 (15.76%)Minorities ----- 23671 (11.45%0Others ----- 7817 (3.78%)
Survey period - July-September 2014

This survey was conducted between July and September 2014 in 1314 villages of 826 panchayats of 168 blocks of 23 districts in Bihar. The survey was done basically among the poor, as is clear from the social structure of the surveyed families. Of the 2.106 lakh families, dalit-mahadalit-tribal families are 44.9%, extreme backward, backward, minorities and others are 24.46%, 15.89%, 10.81% and 3.82% respectively. 6634 families were also surveyed in 45 wards of 6 districts in urban areas; even this was basically amongst the urban poor.

The survey report is based primarily on data collected from rural areas, and findings from urban areas have been presented in a separate chapter. The broad picture of deprivation is however quite similar among both rural and urban poor.

Of the 200,106 rural families surveyed, 60.74% are landless families. This landlessness is on the basis of agricultural land; i.e. these families do not own any land for farming. If the number of families owning up to 1 acre of farming land is added, then this percentage goes up to 92.2%. These families come under the direct ambit of land reforms, but the families benefiting from land reforms are a mere 5.58%. Of these beneficiary families, 24.9% have not yet got possession on the parcha lands. This picture exposes the pro-landlord character of the governments from the time of the Congress governments to the Lalu-Rabdi and JDU-BJP regimes. The JDU-BJP government betrayed the poor in the worst possible way by abandoning the land reform agenda even as the land reforms commission set up by the government came up with a set of minimum recommendations for land and tenancy reforms.

This survey shows that of the 72391 families associated with agriculture 47841 families are sharecroppers. This means that farming is done through sharecropping on a large scale in Bihar. With the growing unprofitability of agriculture and opening of new avenues of livelihood the rate of direct farming has dropped quite low. With the rise in sharecropping, the old pattern of crop-sharing has become weak and it is mainly prevalent in areas which are agriculturally backward. In areas of comparatively better irrigation facilities and higher agricultural development, fixed rent tenancy whether on cash or crop basis is more in vogue. 56.31% tenants in this survey have to pay arbitrarily fixed cash or crop rents. As it is, the government has waved goodbye to the old tenancy act which promised to transfer ownership of land to the tenant on completion of a certain period of tenancy, but there is no law to regulate the lease rent or assist the lessee either. In other words, there is neither the old law, nor a new law to replace it; the government treats the whims and demands of the landlords as the law of the land. A new tenancy legislation is a crying need of the hour, as the Bandopadhyay Commission clearly pointed out.

Even today the biggest chunk of population in Bihar is engaged in agriculture and allied activities but the attitude of the government towards this sector is full of apathy and neglect. Bihar has large numbers of agricultural labourers but till date there is no law for their welfare. Animal husbandry is an important part of the income generated by a large portion of the agricultural population. The governmental measures in relation to development, protection, and market availability of animal husbandry are extremely weak. All farmers including sharecroppers should get the benefit of Kisan Credit Card, but the survey shows that not even 10% families are actually getting this benefit. Crop damage compensation and diesel grant have become reduced to empty rhetoric. For families engaged in agriculture and allied sectors, easy access to affordable and adequate agricultural credit is a far cry. Merely 2.49% families have been able to obtain agricultural loans.

The survey confirms the fact that a large population of Bihar is seeking livelihood outside agriculture. A large number of non-agricultural labourers are working in construction and other unorganized sectors. Governmental efforts for their promotion, safety and welfare are abysmally poor and relevant laws are not being implemented on the ground. The formula of employing people on contract/honorarium basis which the government has borrowed from the World Bank gives neither employment guarantee nor provisions for implementation of minimum wages. The government itself has become the agency which flouts the minimum wages law. As a result, the private sector is exploiting the working capacity and skills of employees without bothering about minimum wages or any other safeguard. Women engaged in midday meal scheme in schools are paid only Rs 10,000 per annum, whereas their work is of a permanent nature and the period of service is also the same as those of teachers. The condition of ASHA and Anganwadi workers and other honorarium- or incentive-based workers is more or less the same. Hospitals, nursing homes, schools and sundry private institutions openly flout the minimum wages law.

Out of 200,106 families 92.19% families live in a state of landlessness and abject poverty, yet only 81,092 have got job cards. In other words, only 40.52% have got job cards whereas the MNREGA states that all needy families must come within its ambit. 27.23% of job card holders do not have their cards in their own possession, their cards are kept illegally by the concerned mukhiya or rozgar sewak. 64.38% of job card holding families have not got even a single day’s work this year. 15.21% families have got 1-7 days’ work and 11.08% families have got 8-15 days’ work. These figures show that the governments of Delhi and Patna are conniving to choke the MNREGA to death. Abysmally low wages, extremely lax and apathetic administration and endemic corruption have eroded much of the initial enthusiasm about MNREGA. The survey also makes it clear that MNREGA has failed to make any dent into the phenomenon of migration. Contrary to official claims of declining migration, the survey shows that members from 40.07% families have been forced to migrate for survival or remunerative livelihood. Paucity of gainful employment within the State leaves no option except migration outside the State.

Facts and figures obtained from the survey present a frightening picture of the crisis of housing and homestead land. The survey brings to light the fact that 29.74% of rural poor families are even today deprived of ownership papers for homestead land. They have neither got homestead land record under the PP Act 1948, nor have they benefited from the 3 decimal homestead land scheme promised to Mahadalit families. Only 5.07% families have got homestead land paper and 26.16% families out of these parcha holders are still far from actual possession. 67.15% families have to subsist on an area of 1 to 2 cent homestead land. 51.01% families have no more than bare one-room houses. We have even come across cases where 19 members of a joint family are compelled to live in a single-room house with whatever belongings and cattle they have. After 30 years not even half of the BPL families have got Indira Awas. Of those families who have got Indira Awas, 51.19 of the houses are still in a partially constructed state. There is a dire drinking water crisis. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or its previous avatar Nirmal Gram Yojana has not reached the tolas of the poor and the grants offered are not sufficient for the construction of permanent toilets. Amidst a flurry of propaganda, electricity has reached only 15.04 % families but strong shocks are given by false electricity bills. The government is bent on closing the Kutir Jyoti Yojana meant for BPL families.

All surveys on the poor and estimates of poverty in Bihar have been surrounded by controversy. The recently conducted socio-economic census engendered great chaos and unrest in village after village thanks to large-scale discrepancies. Our survey shows that 45.69% deserving families are outside the BPL list even today and hence deprived of all benefits meant for BPL families. Over 80% families in Bihar are meant to be covered under the Food Security Act but a good number of them are still deprived of it. 50.54% families in our survey have not yet got ration cards under this scheme. Among the card-holding families, 32.05% have not got any ration while only 3.76% families got 4 months’ ration, 1.57% got 5 months’ ration and 0.26% got 6 months’ ration.

Contrary to official claims of 100% enrolment, our survey showed 83.83% enrolment. The rate is significantly lower in musahar/mahadalit hamlets. Even today 16.16% children do not cross the threshold of a school. A large number of children enrolled in primary classes are forced to leave school due to poverty. The survey also shows that toilets made in most schools are in abandoned and derelict condition because there are no arrangements for their maintenance. There is no provision in the schools for Class IV employees, sanitation workers, or night watchmen. These essential arrangements can provide employment to lakhs of young men and women. The rising cost of education is becoming unbearable for the poor. In this situation the provision of universal scholarships is very essential, but our survey shows 53.96% children do not receive scholarships. Even in the case of the children who do get scholarships, there are no regular arrangements. Attendance scams are going on in all the schools in the name of midday meals. At the same time children are being deprived of scholarships in the name of poor attendance. The RTE Act stipulation of 25% reservation for students from socially disadvantaged background is conspicuously violated in Bihar. The survey found only 28 out of 27086 enrolments in private schools under RTE reservation which is a shocking 0.1% of the total.

The survey strongly underlines the fact that Bihar is once again getting caught in the trap of usury. 73239 families holding negligible assets are indebted to private moneylenders and there is an average debt of Rs 34346 on them. Usury is flourishing in the villages at interest rates ranging from 60% to 120%. Those migrating outside the state often have to pay double the principal amount within one year, failing which their family members back home have to render unpaid labour service for the usurer. Among the surveyed families moneylenders’ debts were 6 times more than bank loans. Clearly usury is flourishing in the absence of access to banks and easy, affordable, institutional loans. The Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana will become meaningless in the absence of easy and affordable loans. Bihar has the lowest credit-deposit ratio in the whole country and the poor bear the brunt of this.

Another fact coming to light through the survey is extremely shocking. Even today there are many temples in Bihar where entry is barred for dalits and mahadalits. The dominant sections have control over pasture lands and water bodies like ponds. Names of the poor are deleted even from voters’ list and they are not given voter ID cards. The survey revealed that about 23.09% adult members are not on the voters’ list. Having overcome the threat of forcible disenfranchisement through booth-grabbing the poor are now faced with fresh challenge of political exclusion through planned, systematic, mischievous omission from the electoral roll.

The survey also reveals acute regional disparity. Rural outskirts of Patna, for example, have a significantly higher concentration of sanctioned Indira Awas houses (24841 in a sample of 49380) compared to far-flung backward districts like Araria (632 out of 3708), Purnea (627 out of 3516) and Jamui (38 out of 662). But Patna also has the highest reported cases of semi-finished houses - as many as 15574 out of 24841.

The picture which emerges from the survey of 6634 urban families is similar to the picture from the villages. Bihar is already one of the country’s most backward States in the matter of urbanization. In recent years the trend of urbanization has increased but there has been no matching increase in public investment in towns/cities and civic amenities; secondly, the model of urbanization which is being adopted is based on grave neglect and exclusion of the urban poor. As a result, the poor and working class settled in towns and cities face an increasingly disastrous situation. The biggest problem for the urban population is housing: 62.07% of the surveyed families subsist in single room houses and 47.01% families do not possess any papers for the land. They also lack other civic amenities. In spite of being inside the town only 46.35% families have electricity connection and 39.65% families have toilet facilities. They do not appear to get any benefits from public welfare projects. Only 39.72% families figure in the BPL list and only 40.96% families have got ration cards. The towns and cities of Bihar are unable to become significant centres of industrial and commercial activity. Dignified employment opportunities are also much reduced because of the shrinking service sector and implementation of the contract-honorarium system. Even in the limited ambit of private and construction sectors 30.13% of Bihar’s urban population is left with no option but migration, due to absence of laws to guarantee workers’ safety, convenience, and rights.

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