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SECC: 75 per cent of rural households in India survive on less than Rs.5000

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New Delhi: For nearly 75 per cent of the 17.9 crore (nearly 180 million) households in rural India, the monthly income of the highest-earning member is less than Rs.5,000, even as close to 40 per cent are landless and work as manual casual labourers for their daily bread, latest official data reveals.

Image from www.secc.gov.in
Image from www.secc.gov.in

This is the finding of the Socio-Economic and Caste Census 2011 for Rural India released Friday which also shows that nearly 25 per cent of the rural households still do not own a phone despite India boasting a telecom subscriber base of around a billion.

Also, among the the fortunate families that actually own land, the dependence on rains for their crops is rather high, with 25 per cent having no access to irrigation, as per the Census released by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Only 8.29 per cent of the rural households reported a member who was drawing more than Rs.10,000 per month, while for 17.18 per cent others the monthly earning was between Rs.5,000 and Rs.10,000 per month.

The latest Census covered all the 640 districts in the country in a paperless manner, using some 640,000 electronic handheld devices. The government on Friday released only the provisional data of the socio-economic Census for rural India.

The Census seeks to provide useful data on households on various aspects of their socio-economic status – housing, land-holding, education, women, the differently able, occupation, possession of assets, and members of scheduled castes and tribes.

In a bid to target government schemes better and ensure they the intended beneficiaries alone, it also provides for automatic exclusion of families on the basis of 14 parameters as also automatic inclusion on the basis of five criteria.

“The progress which households in India have made, who are the ones who have qualitatively moved up in terms of quality of life – a document of these will be an important input for all policy makers, both at the Centre and in the states,” Jaitley said.

“I am sure that with the enormity of the schemes and their reaches that all governments have, this document will form the basis of helping us to target groups to support in terms of policy planning,” the Finance Minister added.

Based on 14 parameters for families — which include criteria such owing a vehicle, possessing a kisan credit card, having a serving government member, drawing an income of Rs.10,000 per month, or owing a refrigerator — only 7.05 crore families (39.39 per cent) stand to be excluded.

Similarly, based on five parameters — households without shelter, those living on alms, manual scavengers, primitive tribals and legally released bonded labourers — 16.50 lakh families are eligible for automatic inclusion.

ArunJaitley

At the same time, 10.69 crore (over 100 million) of rural families, or 60 per cent, qualify for “deprivation” based on seven criteria — which include those with one room, kuccha walls, no member in 18-59 age group, no literate adult above 25 years and landless households.

Among them, while 21.5 per cent belong to scheduled castes or tribes, 23.5 per cent are without a literate adult above 25 years of age. This apart, 30 per cent are landless households deriving a major part of their income from manual labour.

(IANS)

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Opium Cultivation Goes Down by 20% in Afghanistan: UN

It noted that opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

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oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium-poppy cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

 

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
Raw opium from a poppy head is seen at a poppy farmer’s field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

Opium cultivation
Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

Colhoun noted that while there is no single explanation for the continuing high levels of opium-poppy cultivation, rule of law-related challenges such as political instability, lack of government control and security as well as corruption have been found to be among the main drivers of illicit cultivation.

The UNODC survey estimated that the total farm-gate value of opium production decreased by 56 percent to $604 million, which is equivalent to three percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, from $1.4 billion in 2017. The lowest prices strongly undermined the income earned from opium cultivation by farmers.

 Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The study finds that 24 out of the 34 Afghan provinces grew the opium-poppy in 2018, the same number as in the previous year.

The survey found that 69 percent of the opium poppy cultivation took place in southern Afghanistan and the largest province of Helmand remained the leading opium-poppy cultivating region followed by neighboring Kandahar and Uruzgan and Nangarhar in the east.

It noted that poppy opium cultivation weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

A U.S. government agency, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has noted in its latest report that as of September 30, Washington’s counternarcotics-related appropriations for the country had reached almost $9 billion.

Also Read: The Elections in Afghanistan

“Despite the importance of the threat narcotics pose to reconstruction and despite massive expenditures for programs including poppy-crop eradication, drug seizures and interdictions, alternative-livelihood support, aviation support, and incentives for provincial governments, the drug trade remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and is growing,” said Sigar, which monitors U.S. civilian and military spendings in the country. (VOA)