ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Assessment of the Nutritional Status of India’s Rural Labour since the Early 1980s

India has been on a rising path of economic development since independence, but it is still predominantly rural where 70% of population lives. This paper attempts to analyse changes in living standards of the rural poor, basically rural labour, in terms of nutritional level since the 1980s at all-India and state levels so that correct policy measures may be initiated to improve their lives. By using data from the National Sample Survey Office, it is found that there is, in general, an improvement in nutritional levels of rural labour in India since the 1980s. However, for rural India, the findings of reinforce some of the results of the previous literature. However, recent thick rounds of the National Sample Survey show some improvement in their nutritional level, which is a positive sign.

Since independence, India has been on a path of progress towards economic growth (with a growth rate of 8.0%, 8.2%, and 7.2%, respectively, in 2015–16, 2016–17, and 2017–18 as per the Economic Survey 2018–19 estimates), has emerged globally as the world’s third largest economy with respect to purchasing power parity as per the World Bank International Comparison Program 2017 report, and has made progress towards achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals (World Bank 2011, 2020). However, even after so many years of economic development, progress and industrialisation, India is still predominantly rural, where nearly 70% of the population lives (Government of India 2011), and is primarily based in the agricultural sector and deriving their livelihood from agriculture.

Agriculture is the mainstay and backbone of the Indian economy having a share of 54.6% in total employment according to the 2011 Census. But its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) has been declining and there have been great fluctuations in its annual rate of growth (growing at 2%–3% average annually). Figure 1 (p 36) shows the share of agriculture and allied sectors in the GDP and its annual growth rate since the 1980s. According to the Economic Survey 2020–21, the share of agriculture and allied sectors in the real gross value added (GVA) stood at 21.7% and 17.3% at constant prices (2011–12), respectively, for 2011–12 and 2019–20, while its annual growth in real GVA was 1.4%, 4.8%, and 3.9% in 2012–13, 2013–14, and 2019–20, respectively, at constant prices (2011–12). This falling share of agriculture in the total GDP, which stood at around 43% in 1970, has been due to the rapid economic growth in services, industrial output, and non-agricultural sectors, especially after the initiation of economic reforms in 1991.

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Updated On : 12th Dec, 2021
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