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86 million illiterate people in rural India, SECC exposes the reality

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New Delhi: About 86 million more rural Indians have been counted as illiterate than the 2011 census data found.

This is revealed by the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC), which counted 315.7 million Indians in rural areas as illiterate in 2011, the same year as the census and the highest number of illiterates of any country in the world.

Put another way, rural India has more illiterate people than the population of Indonesia – the world’s fourth-most populous country – and twice the population of Pakistan.

Released last week, the SECC, which focused on rural India, counted more people (literate and illiterate) than the census: 35.73 percent of Indians in rural areas as illiterate, as against 32.23 percent counted by census 2011.

The new data has also revealed the low levels of literacy in rural India.

Those who are literate can barely read or count.

As many as 14 percent (123 million people)  of literate Indians in rural areas have not studied past class five, while 18 percent (157 million) have completed primary education, or class five.

Given that educational levels in India do not reflect real learning, 280 million literate Indians in rural areas are only nominally literate.

As IndiaSpend reported earlier, only a fourth of all children in class III can read a class II text fluently, a drop of more than 5 percent over four years. With math, a quarter of children in class III could not recognise numbers between 10 and 99, a drop of 13 percent over four years, according to the 2014 Annual Status Report on Education (ASER).

Only 3 percent (three million) of Indians in rural areas have completed graduation or a higher level of education.

Central India reported the highest illiteracy rate of 39.20 percent and east India 38.79 percent, followed by west India (35.15 percent), north India (32.87 percent), the northeast (30.2 percent) and south India (29.64 percent).

Union territories fared the best with less than 15 percent of the population illiterate.

Rajasthan reported the worst illiteracy rate: 47.58 percent or 25.88 million people, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 44.19 percent or 22.80 million illiterate people, Bihar with 43.85 percent or 42.89 million illiterate people and Telangana with 40.42 percent or 9.5 million illiterate people.

The surprises are the presence of the southern states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the top 10 state for illiteracy.

Kerala is another surprise in the SECC analysis. While state surveys and the census have repeatedly claimed a literacy rate of more than 90 percent,  the SECC report says 11.38 percent, or 3 million Keralites, are illiterate.

Among union territories, Dadra & Nagar Haveli reported the highest illiteracy rate of 36.29 percent.

(IANS/IndiaSpend)

Next Story

U.S. Court Blocks Question On Citizenship For U.S. Census

The Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

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An envelope contains a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I., March 23, 2018. VOA

A federal judge has blocked the Commerce Department from including a question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census.

To plaintiffs in the case — a sizable coalition of states, cities and advocates — the question seemed aimed at turning the official population survey into a tool to advance Trump administration policies by discouraging immigrants from participating.

In Tuesday’s ruling, which came after a two-week trial in New York, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that the decision to add the citizenship question was made before data was collected to show that a change in policy was necessary.

In his 277-page ruling, Furman wrote that the decision was “pretextual” and thus violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

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Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

Furman said the APA requires federal agencies to study an issue before changing policies, and the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, “violated the public trust.”

Documented noncitizens

About 11 million people who live in the U.S. are undocumented, but there are also about 13 million documented noncitizens who might fear responding to the census questionnaire if citizenship is included.

“Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included,” Furman said.

The U.S. census is taken every 10 years and is next scheduled for 2020. It plays a critical role in U.S. politics since the apportionment of House of Representative seats is based on population figures derived from the census and also disbursement of millions in federal funds. In addition, decisions from the location of businesses to the makeup of state and local districts are based on the census.

Plaintiffs argued that noncitizens tend to live in places that disproportionately vote Democratic, so an undercount would likely shift political power and federal spending to Republican areas.

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Immigrants participate in a naturalization ceremony to become U.S. citizens in Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2018. VOA

Furman’s ruling is only the opening salvo on the citizenship question. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear an aspect of the case in February, hoping to rule before the Census Bureau has to print its questionnaire. In addition, the government is expected to quickly appeal Furman’s ruling.

Reasoned explanation

The U.S. government fought hard to keep the citizenship question out of court. When that failed, government lawyers argued that how Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross reached his decision on the citizenship question was “immaterial.”

“All the secretary is required to do is to provide a reasoned explanation,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett A. Shumate told the court. “He doesn’t have to choose the best option.”

Ross has said that he decided to add citizenship to the census in response to a request from the Justice Department, which said that census data on citizenship would help it better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Citizenship was on the questionnaire in censuses before 1960 and is still part of the American Community Survey, which samples about 2.6 percent of the population each year, in order to help local officials and businesses understand what is going on in their communities.

‘Forceful rebuke’

But last January, the Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

Also Read: International Immigrants May be Healthier Than Native: Study

“This victory in our case is a forceful rebuke of the administration’s attempts to weaponize the census to attack immigrants and communities of color,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement about the case.

Along with the ACLU, plaintiffs included 18 states, the District of Columbia, several cities and some immigrant rights groups. (VOA)