The quality of Life of Rural Households in Sonipat District Haryana: A Village Level Study
Welfare and wellbeing of the people has been the main concern of every country in the world. Until last few decades, it was believed that the condition of the people can be improved with the help of economic growth. Economic growth was defined as sustained increase in the amount of goods and services per head of the population. But, soon it was realized that a mere increase in output per capita may not lead to substantial improvement in living standard or well-being of the people. At the most it may be necessary but not sufficient for better life of the people because per capita output can increase in a sustained manner without improving the material welfare of the people with lowest income, eradicating the mass poverty, reducing illiteracy, eliminating disease, reducing inequalities and poor nourishment.
The concept of economic development that implies progressive changes in the quality of life of a country or society in terms of reducing inequality, removing poverty, elimination of malnutrition, disease, illiteracy and unemployment, has been accepted as an appropriate objective to aspire for. Government of India, on its part has been floating and implementing a number of special schemes to improve the lot of its citizens. But despite numerous welfare programmes and two decades of economic reforms and fairly high economic growth rate for several years, there does not seem to be substantial improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the lowest strata of our population.
The term 'Quality of Life' is often discussed in broad terms as satisfaction of needs, feelings of well-being, good or bad working conditions, and other indicators. Such a conceptualisation of Quality of Life (QOL) encompasses all the material aspects of human life, and may extend beyond, to cover the physical and psychological dimensions. Quality of Life covers diverse and innumerable human needs. Human needs at the elementary level may include essentials of survival like drinking water, perpetuation needs, shelter and warmth. However, consideration of basic needs cannot stop at the level of mere survival; it has to transcend survival due to the special attributes and characteristics of human beings and social and psychological urges and demands (Beck and Mishra, 2010). http://maxwellsci.com/print/crjss/v2-340-349.pdf
Haryana is predominantly a rural state of India. Sonipat district is one of the 21 districts of Haryana State. The total population is about 13 lakh. The rural population is about 75 per cent and the rest 25 per cent is urban population. In the total population, male constitute 54 per cent and female 46 per cent. Average household size in Sonipat district is about 6 persons per household.
Sonipat district consists of 336 villages and 4 towns. The total population of scheduled cast in Sonipat district is about 18 per cent. About 78 percent people of this district reside in rural area, while about 22 per cent live in urban area. Sonipat has an average literacy rate of 72 per cent, which is higher than the national average of 59.5 per cent. However, the male
and female literacy rates are about 77 per cent and 66 per cent respectively.
A systematic approach is used to illustrate the dynamic state of the socio-economic quality of life. The dimensions of life to be examined include; males, females, children, income, expenditure ,ownership of assets, source of assets, purpose of loan, source of loan, types of work, and type of fuels used. With this backdrop the present survey on Socio-ecological study on the rural households in Sonipat district in Haryana, was carried out during 2010-11 to observe the Quality of life led by these groups of rural population. So, it was decided to look comprehensively into the socio- economic conditions at much smaller level of a village situated in Sonipat District in Haryana.
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of the study is: To analyse the socio-economic conditions of rural households in terms of their income and its distribution, source and nature of loans, cleanliness, caste distribution, ownership and sources of assets, type and fuel usage and empowerment of women.
Survey Schedule and Data Collection This study is based primarily on a primary survey of the village Shahzadpur in Sonipat district of Haryana state. The village has been selected based on convenience of the investigator. Keeping all these factors in mind, it was decided to study the rural households using complete enumeration method. Thus, this study is based on census of households based on a structured schedule consisting of 20 questions. The schedule consists of closeended as well open-ended questions.
Techniques of Analysis
Simple techniques are adopted for analyzing the data collected through the schedules. For analysing the data simple measure of percentages has been used.
Data Analysis Section-I
The section I explains the distribution of households according to their various attributes such as by males, females, children, income, expenditure, ownership of assets, source of assets, purpose of loan, source of loan, types of work, and type of fuels used.
The average number of males in the family is 3 while average number of females per family is about 2. This shows that the sex ratio is adverse in the Shahzadpur village. The average number of children per family is about 3.
The information about income and expenditure of 499 households that was obtained through the primary survey is grouped and presented in the form of a univariate frequency distribution table. The three class intervals of income and expenditure and corresponding number of households along with their percentages are shown in the table-1, which shows that 45 percent households earn up to five thousand rupees per month while about 55 percent of the population earn more than ten thousand rupees per month. Regarding expenditure, it is seen that a majority ( 57 percent) households spend upto to five thousand rupees per month and the rest, 43 percent, spend more than rupees five thousand per month. Assuming that income and expenditure are uniformly distributed within the class intervals and computing the total income and expenditure on the basis of lower limit of the third class interval, it can be seen that income and expenditure are unequally distributed in the
village. It is found that in case of income, lower 68 percent of households have 47 percent of total income while upper 32 percent households have 53 of the total income. Similarly, following the same procedure, it is found that about 79 percent of households incur 60 percent of total expenditure and remaining 21 percent who expended more than 10,000 rupees per month incur 40 percent of total expenditure. This shows that income and expenditure are not distributed uniformly among the households of the village.
The information regarding the ownership of assets by the households is given in table 2.The table reveals that 154 households (31 percent) own one or more of vehicles like motor cycle or scooter or a car. The second largest group of households (29%) owns one or more of the assets like television, cooler or fan. About six percent households do not possess any of the above assets while about 14 percent households have purchased agricultural implements like tractors/ combined harvesters etc.
The distribution of households according to the source of the assets is shown in Table 3. A majority of households (60%) say that they acquired the assets from their own earnings and savings while another big number of households(25%) say that their assets have been purchased with dowry money or have been given in the form of gift by parents of the girl. This is true that, on the occasion of marriage of their son, almost every household is given a number of assets like TV, cooler, freezes, motor cycle or even car and some furniture in dowry. Nine percent households source their assets through gifts and by other means. The other means include the assets left behind by their ancestors after death or the articles which they got in the form of share in the common property at the time of partition of their joint family.
In order to know about the extent of indebtedness of rural households, questions were asked whether they have taken any loan and if yes, then what are the sources. The responses are grouped and the distribution of households by source of loan is presented in table 4. It is evident from the table that of the 499 households only 150 (30%) households could be interviewed as the remaining (about 70 percent) households were either reluctant to speak or refused to cooperate in this connection. Of the 150 households, 32 households (21%) took loan from money lender and 36 households ( 24%) took loan from commercial and cooperative banks, while 10 percent households sourced the loan from their relatives. On questioning repeatedly about their decision to take loan from money lender, the households came forward to tell the interviewer that though the loan from money lender is costlier but the terms and conditions are flexible and hassle free. They explained that loan from money lender could be arranged as many times as they wished and as much as they needed without much effort. The money lender also allows to postpone or delay the repayment of loan by a few days.
The household responses about the purpose of loan are grouped and presented in the table 5. Of the 150 households who responded, 35 percent did not take any loan and the rest, 65 percent, took loan for one or more of the purposes such as agriculture, professional, consumption, marriage or unspecified. The table shows that about 26 percent of households decided to take loan for consumption purposes. Only about 19 percent households take loan for agriculture and professional purposes, which can be called productive. Another 16 percent take loan for marriage purposes. Therefore, the total household who take loans, for the purpose, which cannot be called productive, is about 42 percent. Only 19 percent households take loan for productive purposes.
Occupational distribution of the respondent households is presented in table 6. It is seen from the table that only 36 percent of the households have one or more members in the job be it a government or a private job. Eighteen percent households are engaged in agriculture only and do no other work. Thirty seven percent households were not able to mention any definite regular work. They are mostly agricultural laborers, small shop owners or daily wage earners. Eight percent households had no work to do. On enquiring about these eight percent households from other sources and from neighbors the investigator came to know that, in cases of joint families, the old persons were claimed to have separated from the family and they now constituted a separate family, though they continued to feed and look after them internally. They resort to this type of practices to take advantage of Below Poverty Level (BPL) provisions.
There was a time when cooking was done with the help of dung-cake, wood fire or coal almost universally in the rural Haryana. But a lot of change has taken place in the pattern of fuel usage in the last few decades. The table 7 presents the different types of fuel and the corresponding household numbers based on the responses obtained during interviewing the 499 households of Sahjadpur village. The table shows that a majority of households 273 (55%) are still using the traditional fuels i.e., Dung-cake, coal and wood fire for the purpose of cooking and for other domestic use. Second largest group of households ( 39%) use liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and only seven percent use kerosene. On further enquiry, some respondents disclosed that most households used a mixture of fuels. For example, for boiling water etc the traditional fuel is used and for preparing chapatis and for boiling milk LPG is made use of.
The study is an analysis of socio-economic conditions based on a primary survey through complete enumeration of 499 households of village Sahzadpur in district Sonepat, Haryana. The analysis reveals that about 68 percent of households earn about 47 percent of total income while upper 32 percent households earn about 53 percent of total income. Regarding the ownership of assets by the households, it is seen that about 31 percent households own one or more vehicles like motor cycles, scooters or cars. 29 percent have assets like television, cooler or fan while 14 percent households have purchased agricultural implements like tractor or combined harvester. As far as the sources of assets are concerned, 60 percent households say that they have purchased their assets from their own savings. About 40 percent households say that they have acquired their assets through dowry, gifts or by other means. The analysis shows that 35 percent households do not take any loans while the rest about 65 percent take loans from different sources such as commercial banks, cooperative banks, moneylenders, or relatives etc. The distribution of households by purpose of loan shows that the 65 percent households who took loan, only 19 percent took loans for productive purposes while the rest took loan for non productive purposes such as consumption and marriage etc. Regarding the distribution of households by type of work, it is found that 36 percent people are engaged in government or private jobs. Rest are either doing agriculture or working as laborers. The analysis also shows that about 46 percent households use LPG or kerosene as fuel for cooking purposes while the rest 55 percent still depend on dung-cake or coal for cooking food.
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