India’s livestock economy is among the biggest in the world. Restrictions being sought to be imposed on cattle trade and slaughter, and the terror unleashed by the cow vigilantes, would deal a serious blow to the agrarian economy that is already reeling under a crisis precipitated by two years of drought, falling farm harvest prices and the demand deflation caused by demonetisation. While Supreme Court’s recent order staying the implementation of the recently-imposed restrictions on cattle sales is a welcome relief, the killer gau-rakshak gangs continue to roam the streets unrestrained.
This very interesting paper by Meghana Eswar and Bejoy K Thomas in Economic and Political Weekly reports on some important discrepancies in the census data on access of households to water for domestic use. There are three main findings.
Analysing household level data from three consecutive All India Debt and Investment Surveys (AIDIS) covering a period of two decades (1991-92 to 2012-13), this paper finds that inequality in asset ownership in India has risen during this period. While inequality has risen in both rural and urban India, urban inequality is much higher, and the pace towards higher inequality is much faster in urban than in rural India. The growing inequality, in both rural and urban India, was mostly driven by highly unequal holding of land and buildings, the two most important forms in which Indian households hold their wealth. In terms of asset accumulation, there was no improvement for socially marginalised groups (Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim) relative to others (non-Dalit, non-Adivasi and non-Muslim), as others continued to own, on an average, more than double the assets of Dalit, Adivasi and Muslim households during the entire two decades. Non-Dalit, non-Adivasi and non-Muslim households remain a highly heterogeneous group, with much higher within group inequality than the marginalised groups.
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