The census truth: More Indians have access to phones than to toilets


The first set of final data from census 2011 further establishes India's story of contradictions: with 63.2 per cent households owning a telephone connection, up from a mere 9.1 per cent 10 years ago, the country is more wired than ever before. But despite all the talk of vikaas (development), 53.1 per cent or over half of Indian households do not have access to something as basic as a toilet.

These are among the findings of the houselisting census, the first phase of census 2011 held between April and September 2010, when enumerators identified 24.66 crore households and asked them questions on the number of rooms, the quality of the walls, roof and floor, the fuel used in the kitchens, drinking water, bathrooms, latrines, vehicles owned, phones, computers, electricity, etc. In short, the houselisting census reveals the way India lives.

While in 2001, half of Indian households (50.4 per cent) didn't own any of the specified modes of communication radio/transistor, TV, telephone (landline, mobile) 10 years later, 63.2 per cent own telephones, 47.2 per cent own television and 19.9 per cent own radios/transistors. Mobile phones are the biggest change story of the 63.2 per cent households who own telephones, 53.2 per cent own only mobile phones.

No questions were asked on newspapers as a medium of communication, something that Registrar General of India C Chandramouli, who presented the data on Tuesday, said should be looked at next time.

Computers are still a luxury 20 per cent households in urban areas and 5 per cent in rural areas own one. Of the 9 per cent households that own computers, 6 per cent have no Internet connection.

Only 18 per cent of households do not have any of the specified assets radio, TV, computer/laptop, phones, means of transportation (bicycle, car/jeep/van, scooter, motorcycle/moped). Houses are also sturdier, with concrete roofs (up from 19.8 per cent to 29 per cent).

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