One in 10 rural India homes has fridge

NEW DELHI: The main breadwinner in three-quarters of households in rural India makes less than $80 a month while barely one in 10 homes has a refrigerator, a survey showed on Friday.

While living standards have grown rapidly in India’s towns and cities in the last two decades, the census of some 180 million rural households highlighted how many of the poorest states are lagging far behind.

“This will give us a measure of the progress made by different sections and help with future policy planning,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a press conference to mark the launch of the survey held in 2011.

While the survey did not give the national average, it showed only 25.5 per cent of rural households had someone who earned more than INR 5,000 (around $80) a month while just 9.68 per cent included a member who draws a regular salary.

Previous government data covering the same period put the nationwide average monthly income at around INR 5,130.

The survey did illustrate how ownership of mobile phones is now widespread in rural areas, with 68 per cent of households owning at least one device.

But only 11 per cent of households had a fridge and that figure slumped to around three per cent in the third largest state of Bihar and in Chattisgarh, which is one of the focuses of an insurgency by Maoist rebels.

A survey by Euromonitor released last year said that around 27 per cent of all Indian households owned a fridge, against an Asia-wide average of around 65 per cent.

With most rural livelihoods at least partly dependent on agriculture, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently launched a series of farming initiatives — including a new $8 billion irrigation scheme — after accusations his government has been too business-friendly.