Consumption story intact but uneven in last 10 years

Last Updated: Sun, Jan 06, 2013 06:04 hrs

Tripura doesn't often make national headlines. But tucked away in one corner of India's northeast, the state has delivered where others have failed.

In the last decade, Tripura, the only CPI(M)-ruled state in India, has shown the maximum change in households availing banking services (52.7 percentage points) and the second highest growth in households using electricity as the primary source of lighting (26.6 percentage points).

But that's not the only surprise to emerge out of Business Standard's analysis of Census 2001 and 2011 data. On the strength of its alluring sands and the now-stalled mining boom, Goa has seen more households with four-wheelers (14 percentage point growth) and two-wheelers (18.2 percentage point growth) than any other state. That apart, much of the remaining action in the four-wheeler segment has come from Chandigarh, the National Capital Region of Delhi and Punjab.

In sharp contrast, West Bengal, once the proposed home of the Tata Nano, has shown the worst growth in four-wheeler penetration over the last 10 years. Households with cars, jeeps and vans grew by a mere 0.3 percentage points, worse than Bihar and Chhattisgarh, both at 0.8 percentage points. West Bengal is also among the laggards for two-wheelers per household and in the number of households that avail banking services.

A strong economic environment, however, isn't all that reflects in household assets and amenities data. The penchant of Tamil Nadu's politicians for giving away consumer durables as electoral sops could be one of the reasons why the southern state has seen the highest growth in television ownership in India in the last decade - a staggering 47.5 percentage point growth. Kerala pulled in at second (38 percentage points). But the bigger revelation was Mizoram's 34.7 percentage point growth in this category.

India's mobile telephony growth story, of course, remains the highlight of this period, with Kerala, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh showing the highest growth in households with a landline telephone or a mobile.

Yet, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana are also where the most households in India have gained access to drinking water source within premises, with a 22.9 percentage point and 22 percentage point growth, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, in Madhya Pradesh, access to drinking water within household premises declined by 0.7 percentage point during this period, as did the number of households using electricity as the primary source.

In Chhattisgarh, access to drinking water within household premises remained static. But the conflict-ridden state is where banking grew the least in India between 2001 and 2011, at only 4.7 percentage points. Telephone connectivity, too, including mobiles, showed the slowest growth nationwide at 26.9 percentage points.

India today may notably have more mobile phones than toilets, but a closer look at the numbers from the last decade show that while much has changed, there is just as much that remains the same.

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