Current Affairs

Bare Necessities Index

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    30th Jan, 2021


  • The Finance Ministry in its Economic Survey for 2020-21 has introduced a new metric to gauge progress on the quality of bare necessities available such as drinking water, sanitation, shelter, electricity and LPG called the Bare Necessities Index (BNI).
  • Since the 1950s, the idea of “minimum needs”, can be viewed as a process of providing the “bare necessities of life” to citizens has been around in India.
  • A family’s ability to access bare necessities – such as housing, water, sanitation, electricity and clean cooking fuel – have therefore been regarded as an important barometer of economic development in academic and policymaking circles.
  • The BNI has been developed as a means of assessing economic development using the "basic needs" approach.
  • This approach sets minimum specified quantities of 26 basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, water, and sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities. 
  • It has been defined based on data collected by the National Statistical Office on the abovementioned dimensions in 2012 and 2018.

The Bare Necessities Index

  • The “basic needs” approach to economic development focuses on the minimum specified quantities of basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, water and sanitation that are necessary to prevent ill health, and undernourishment.
  • The Bare Necessities Index (BNI) is an attempt to quantify this approach to economic development using data from the National Statistical Office (NSO).
  • Source Data: The data is sourced from two NSO Rounds on drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and housing condition in India: 69th (2012) and 76th (2018).
  • Created for: The BNI is created for all States/UTs by employing the data at State level. The index for each State and group has been constructed for rural, urban and (rural + urban) combined for India for 2012 and 2018.
  • Five dimensions: The index is constructed at two points of time – 2012 and 2018 – using 26 indicators on five dimensions viz., water, sanitation, housing, micro-environment, and other facilities.
    1. Water
    2. Sanitation
    3. Housing
    4. Micro-Environment
    5. Other facilities (Kitchen type: Ventilation of the dwelling unit, Access of the household to bathroom, public/community use with payment, electricity etc.)

Assessing the findings of the Index


  • Highest access: Access to bare necessities in 2018 is the highest in the States such as Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttrakhand, Delhi, Goa, Mizoram and Sikkim while it is the lowest in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura.
  • Improving states: The states showing improvement on the access to bare necessities, where red in 2012 became yellow or green in 2018 or where yellow in 2012 became green in 2018, are Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and North East states except for Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya.

Rural India

  • Highest access: In rural India, the highest access to bare necessities in 2018 is recorded in Punjab, Kerala, Sikkim, Goa and Delhi, while the lowest in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Manipur and Tripura.
  • Improvement: The States showing improvement in their access to bare necessities are J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

Urban India

  • In urban India, no State is showing the lowest level of BNI in 2018, and the States showing improvement over 2012 include Uttarakhand, J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur

The Five Dimensions (Sub-Index)

1. Drinking Water Accessibility Index

  • Indicators: It is composed of sub-dimensions viz.,
    • the principal source of drinking water
    • distance from source of water
    • nature of access
    • method of taking out water
  • Improvement: The access to drinking water to households in most of the States has improved in 2018 compared to 2012, in rural as well as in urban areas, (except for Andhra Pradesh in Rural and Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in urban areas).
  • Top and bottom: States such as Sikkim, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat are at the top while Odisha, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh are at the bottom on the drinking water accessibility index.
  • Regional disparities: Regional disparities have increased in 2018 when compared to 2012 despite such disparities declining in urban areas.
  • Equity in access: Across all groups, equity in access to drinking water increased in 2018 when compared to 2012.

2. Sanitation Index

  • Indicators: Indicators used in the sub-index are percentage of households by access to latrine for exclusive use, the type of latrine viz., piped sewer system, septic tank, twin leach pit, single pit.
  • These indicators show physical as well as quality of access to sanitation.
  • Improvement: 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.
  • Regional disparities: Regional disparities in access to sanitation have declined as the states having low access to sanitation in 2012 have gained more. However, inter-State differences in access to sanitation are still large, especially in rural areas.

Government Programmes for Sanitation

Efforts have been made by the government through various government programmes, such as

  • Total Sanitation Campaign
  • Swachh Bharat Mission

3. Housing Index

  • The housing index measures not only the structure of house (in terms of Pucca or Katcha), but also the quality of house in terms of type of dwelling unit (independent or not) and condition of structure (Good or not).
  • Improvement: The access to housing has improved in all States, except urban areas in few States.
  • Inter-State disparities: The inter-State disparities have also declined as the States having low level in 2012 have gained more. However, the gaps in the levels across states have been large, especially in rural areas.
  • Equity in access: The improvement in access to housing has also been disproportionately greater for the lowest income group when compared to the highest income group, thereby enhancing equity in access to housing in 2018 vis-à-vis 2012.

4. Micro-Environment Index

  • The micro-environment index measures the percentage of households who are living in a dwelling unit with access to drainage (indicated in terms of access to drainage and quality of drainage in terms of other than Katcha drainage), without problems of flies/mosquitoes (indicated by other than severe), and efforts made by local bodies/State government to tackle problem of flies/mosquitoes.
  • Improvement: Micro-environment has improved in 2018 for all States, except for Assam in rural and Odisha and Assam in urban areas, as compared to 2012.
  • Regional disparities: Regional disparities have declined sharply in urban areas in 2018 vis-à-vis 2012, though it was increased in the rural areas. The micro-environment is much better in urban areas when compared to the rural areas, and the rural-urban gaps are large.
  • Equity in access: The access to microenvironment in 2018 has improved especially to the lowest income quintile in rural as well as in urban areas.

5. Other facilities index

  • The index captures the availability of kitchen, kitchen with a water tap, good ventilation in house, access to bathroom, attached bathroom, electricity use, the types of wiring used instead of temporary electric wiring, and type of fuel used for cooking (LPG or others).
  • Improvement: Access to Other-facilities for a household has improved for all States in 2018 compared to 2012 for rural as well as in urban areas except for Himachal Pradesh in urban.
  • Inter-states disparities: The inter-states disparities in terms of these facilities have also declined, especially in the urban areas.
  • Equity in access: The equity in access to other facilities has improved in rural and urban areas.The gaps are still high across the State in rural, between rural and urban in States, between income groups, and between rural and urban in income groups.

Other major outcomes

  • Health Outcomes

Research highlights the health benefits that can accrue from greater access to the bare necessities:

  • Swachh Bharat Mission led to a decrease in diarrhea and malaria cases in children below five years,
  • Access to improved sanitation also reduces the risk of contracting diarrhoea.
  • Access to the piped water and sanitation is critical in reducing the child mortality substantially.
  • The distance and time spent on fetching water from the source is found to affect under-five child health and increase the risk of illness.
  • Access to clean cooking fuel improves child health.
  • Having a separate kitchen improves the indoor environment, thereby yielding health benefits to the household, especially women and children.
  • Close association between household air pollution and mortality: Studies have found a significant trend for higher infant mortality among households that cooked with a greater proportion of biomass fuel.
  • The close association between household air pollution and mortality among children aged under-five, possibly because of respiratory illnesses, support the case for providing clean cooking fuel through government programmes.
  • Access to housing, better housing conditions and amenities are closely connected with health outcomes.
  • Education Outcomes

Research studies support that the access to bare necessities through its possible linkages can positively impact educational indicators as well.

  • Water hauling, a daily activity, consumes substantial time and effort of a household. It is found that water hauling activity is negatively associated with the girls’ school attendance.
  • Access to latrine in schools substantially increases enrolment of pubescent-age girls.
  • Further, the electrification’s links with education, which could be through lighting and use of other equipment, are visible in day-to-day life.
  • In fact, there is a strong correlation between electricity consumption per capita and higher scores on the education index across countries.

Government measures to improve access to the bare necessities

  • In order to improve access to “the bare necessities,” governments have made constant efforts.
  • The network of schemes designed to deliver these necessities include inter-alia
    • the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
    • Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
    • Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY), Saubhagya
    • Ujjwala Yojana
  • These Schemes were equipped with new features such as use of technology, real time monitoring, geo-tagging of assets, social audit, embedded digital flow of information, and direct benefit transfers wherever possible.

1. Swachh Bharat Mission-Rural and Urban

  • Objectives
  • SBM-Rural: To attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2nd October, 2019 by providing access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country.
  • SBM-Urban: To achieve 100 per cent Open Defecation Free (ODF) status and 100 per cent scientific processing of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) being generated in the country
  • Targets and achievements
  • More than 10 crore toilets built across rural India.
  • 4,327 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) have been declared ODF so far.
  • Phase II of SBM(G) from 2020-21 to 2024-25 is being implemented focusing on ODF sustainability and Solid & Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) through convergence between different verticals of financing and various Schemes of Central and State Governments such as 15th Finance Commission grants to local bodies, MNREGS, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds etc.
  • The Mission is now focusing on holistic sanitation through its ODF+ and ODF++ protocols with a total of 1,319 cities certified ODF+ and 489 cities certified ODF++ as on date.
  • In the area of solid waste management, 100 per cent of wards have complete door-to door collection.
  • Further, out of 1,40,588 Tonnes Per Day (TPD) waste generated per day, 68 per cent (i.e., 95,676 TPD) is being processed.

2. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY)

  • Objectives

To provide housing for all in urban and rural areas by 2022

  • Targets and achievements
  • As on 18th January, 2021, 109.2 lakh houses have been sanctioned out of which 70.4 lakh houses have been grounded for construction of which 41.3 lakh have been built to the beneficiaries under PMAY(U) since inception of the scheme in June, 2015.
  • The target number of houses for construction under PMAY (Gramin) is 2.95 crore in two phases i.e.
    • 00 crore in Phase I (2016-17 to 2018-19)
    • 95 crore in Phase II (2019-20 to 2021-22)
  • Since 2014-15, construction of approx. 1.94 crore rural houses have been completed, out of which 1.22 crore houses have been constructed under the revamped scheme of PMAY-G and 0.72 crore under erstwhile Indira Awaas Yojana scheme.

3. Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – Saubhagya

  • Objectives

To achieve universal household electrification by providing electricity connections to all willing un-electrified households in rural areas and all willing poor households in urban areas in the country, by March, 2019

  • Targets and achievements
  • All States have declared electrification of all households on Saubhagya portal, except 18,734 households in Left Wing Extremists (LWE) affected areas of Chhattisgarh as on 31.03.2019.
  • Electricity connections to 262.84 lakh households have been released from 11.10.2017 to 31.03.2019.
  • Subsequently, seven States reported that 19.09 lakh un-electrified households identified before 31.03.2019, which were earlier un-willing but have expressed willingness to get electricity connection.
  • States have been asked to electrify these households under Saubhagya.
  • These households are being electrified by the concerned States and as on 20.12.2019, electricity connections to 7.42 lakh Households have been released.

4. Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • Objectives

To provide clean cooking fuel to poor households with a target to provide 8 crore deposit free LPG connection

Targets and achievements

  • A target to provide 8 crore new LPG connections has been achieved in September, 2019, 7 months in advance of the target date of 31st March, 2020.


 Using the composite index of bare necessities, the above analysis summarizes the progress made in providing access to bare necessities for ensuring a healthy living. The improvements are widespread as they span each of the five dimensions viz., access to water, housing, sanitation, micro-environment and other facilities. Inter-State disparities in the access to “the bare necessities” have declined in 2018 compared to 2012 across rural and urban areas.

However, while improvements in access to bare necessities are evident, the disparities in access to bare necessities continue to exist between rural-urban, among income groups and also across States. Government schemes, may design appropriate strategy to address these gaps to enable India achieve the SDG goals. There should be effective targeting of the needier population be they in urban or rural areas or across states.

Verifying, please be patient.