Eco Survey introduces a bare necessities index

Economic Survey 2020-21

Approx Read Time: 6 min

In News:

  • The Economic Survey 2020-21 has highlighted the improvement in access to bare necessities like housing, water, sanitation, electricity etc. and their importance.

“Basic needs” approach to economic development:

  • Bare necessities include housing, water, sanitation, electricity, clean cooking fuel etc. which are consumed by all the members of the household and which touch the life of every member.
  • Economic Survey says that the “basic needs” approach to economic development focuses on minimum specified quantities of basic necessities.
  • This is necessary to prevent ill health and under nourishment.

Bare Necessities Index (BNI):
  • Economic Survey 2020-21 constructed a Bare Necessities Index (BNI) at the rural, urban and all India level.
  • BNI is an attempt to quantify the “basic needs” approach to economic development using data from National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • The BNI summarizes 26 indicators on five dimensions viz., water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities.
  • BNI is based on the large annual household survey data at district level for all/targeted districts to assess the progress on access to bare necessities.
  • The BNI has been created for all States/UTs for 2012 and 2018 using NSO data at State Level.

Economic Survey findings on bare necessities  :

Pictographic representation of access to bare necessities:
  • State-wise values of BNI in 2012 and 2018 for India (rural + urban), are shown in the images below.
  • A higher value indicates better access to bare necessities in a State.
  • The three colours, green, yellow and red, used in the maps show the level of a State in providing access to bare necessities to its households.
    1. Green (above 0.70) indicates ‘High’ level and is therefore the most desirable.
    2. Yellow (0.50 to 0.70) indicates ‘Medium’ level.
    3. In contrast, Red (below 0.50) indicates very ‘Low’ level of access.
  • The difference in colours in a map indicate the regional variation in the access to bare necessities for the households.
Economic Survey 2020-21
Economic Survey 2020-21
Economic Survey 2020-21
Improvement in access to bare necessities between 2012 and 2018:
  • As per the Survey 2020-21, access to the ‘bare necessities’ has improved across all States in the country in 2018 as compared to 2012.
  • It is highest in States such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat while lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.
  • Inter-State disparities declined across rural and urban areas, as the previous laggard states have improved relatively more between 2012 and 2018.
  • Access to bare necessities improved strongly for the poorest households across rural and urban areas.
Improvements across various dimensions:
  • Drinking water: According to the survey access to drinking water to households in most of the States has improved in 2018 compared to 2012 in rural as well as urban areas.
  • Sanitation: Survey also shows that the sanitation access has improved for all States in rural areas and for most of the States in urban areas in 2018 compared to 2012. It also notes that regional disparity in access to sanitation has declined as the States having low access to sanitation in 2012 have gained more. The level of access to safe sanitation has increased in lowest income quintile.
  • Housing: Survey observes improvement in Housing Index also indicating improvement in access to housing and reduction in inter-States disparities with disproportionate benefits for the lowest income group in 2018 vis-à-vis 2012.
  • Micro environment: The economic Survey also notes improvement in micro environment (drainage, freedom from flies/mosquitoes etc.) for all States in 2018, except for Assam in rural and Odisha and Assam in urban areas, as compared to 2012. 
  • Other facilities: Similarly Survey has observed improvement in access to other facilities which captures the availability of Kitchen, Kitchen with a water tap, good ventilation in house, access to bathroom, electricity use and type of fuel used for cooking.


  • The Survey highlights various efforts made by the Government to improve access to bare necessities, including:
    1. Swachh Bharat Mission
    2. National Rural Drinking Water Programme
    3. Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana
    4. Saubhagya Scheme
    5. Ujjwala Yojana

Impact on social indicators:

  • Improved access to the ‘bare necessities’ has led to better health and education outcomes.
  • Health: Improvements in health indicators child survival, decline in still births, malnutrition, and infant mortality can be seen with improved access to sanitation and clean drinking water.
  • Education: Further electrification and access to toilets in schools has also increased educational outcomes.

Way ahead:

  • Survey 2020-21 recommends that thrust should be given to reduce variation in the access to bare necessities across states, between rural and urban and between income groups.
  • The schemes such as Jal Jeevan Mission, SBM-G, PMAY-G, etc. may design appropriate strategy to reduce these gaps.

Also Read: GDP to contract 7.7% in current fiscal, advance estimates show

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