India’s New Economic Policy - 2
03 / 1994
In spite of the assurance given by the government and world bank, that SAP had saved Indian economy from collapse, several NGOs and academics working with the poor initiated a joint research in partnership with grassroots level groups to assess the adverse impact it had on the poorest groups.
A questionaire followed by several pilot surveys released information an 5 areas in Gujerat. The results will help the researchers to advise grassroots leaders, educate them of possible disadvantages and be aware of the dangers of SAP recommendations. There were certain outstanding features.
The labour participation in all 5 areas of women was low none of them had higher education and in some areas there was even child labour, confined mainly to women with consequent deprivation of any education at all.
In Ahmedabad the highest literacy rate was among textile workers, through the adult literacy rate was low indicating that education had reached them only in the last 20 years. There was also casual daily paid labour.
The 5 main jobs in the locations visited were: pottery workers, textile workers, rural agriculture, small farm cultivation, casual daily paid labour.
Daily activity as the second major occupation was mostly self employed and as milk was used for their consumption they did not earn much.
In Ahmedabad there were land owning households with several remaining uncultivated for a veriety of reasons - lack of irrigation facilities, non professionalism of farmers, or else as the land was of poor quality. Of the 25% of irrigated lands about 1/3 were partially irrigated or others semi-irrigated.
ASSETS-OF those surveyed none had increased nor had they been pawned. The position remains unchanged. Urban households acquired consumer durables. Cultivators households pawned agriculture tools, land and even jewellery. In one area livestock was acquired during the period of the survey. Goods were pawned primarily for health expenses 23% were also for special occasions (funerals, weddings etc.)
LOANS - taken from relatives. Textile workers also borrowed from employers. Bank loans were taken for income generating activities only by textile workers and small and marginal farmers.
FOOD PATTERNS - less than 50% buy ready made items from the market. Other than textile workers the rest buy grains and retailed food. All groups visited PDS shops as it is cheap and no ration card is required.
HEALTH - 70% visit private clinics especially rurla folk and do not use government health care facilities. School dropouts were because of lack of interest, finance, housework or had to earn an income or else lack of schools.
FOOD - packaged food, bakery, milk food and sweets were the average consumer items used. Compensation paid for job loss was used for household expenses; income generating activities; savings; special occasion expenses; repaying debts.
Since research was conducted with those most affected the grassroots groups and the poor it gives a realistic picture of the affect ofd SAP and how it has further downgraded the life style of the marginalised poor. Obviously the high ups in the government are in no position to determine the results of their policies. This research document by UNNATI would help other countries be aware of the far reaching impact of government economic policies on the poorest sectors. It could help them resist, advise the states and educate those most affected how to prevent such a situation in their own cases. it could also help as a lobby for more meaningful intervention in each cases.
This was a research document produced by UNNATI in ahmedabad, India.
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