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62 INDIAN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT C HAPTER 5 Social Infrastructure Introduction In the last chapter, we have learnt about the importance of economic infrastruc- ture in the development of our economy. But we know that there is always a man behind the machine. If a man is healthy and educated, he is likely to contribute more and in a better manner. How could people be healthy and educated? If people eat well, live in clean houses, enjoy pollution free atmosphere and are provided proper medical care when they fall sick, then they will be healthy. Public health measures help them have clean surrounding and also check the spread of communicable diseases. Similarly, if people, while young, get enrolled in a school and are taught by good teachers, they get educated. Later, when they pursue such studies as make them employable in productive vocations, they become responsible manpower. But the first condition is that there have to be schools for all boys and girls; the schools should be approachable and be at a short distance. Education and health, besides making people more productive, make them more capable of living better. Housing is now being considered an important priority as a majority of people are now reasonably fed and clothed. As education, health and housing have social overtones in that they are not just instruments for generating productive human resources but also contribute directly to the well-being of the people, they are known as social infrastructure. In this chapter, we will discuss progress of three social infrastructures, viz. education, health and housing. Education Literacy Let us start with literacy, which is not education per se. People, above a certain age, who can read and write a simple passage with understanding in any language, are considered literate. Naturally all educated persons are included in it. According to 1951 census, one-sixth of the population was literate; by the turn of the century, nearly two- thirds are literate. In terms of absolute numbers, the literate hardly numbered 5.7 crore in 1951. Their number in 2001 is about 57 crore, ignoring those in the population below 7 years of age. In the fifty years gone by, the number of literates has increased ten times and the literacy rate has risen from less than 20 per cent to over 65 per cent. Study the trends in levels of literacy since 1951 (Table 5.1).
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SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE 63 Female literacy rate in India is still less than 55 per cent, while the male literacy rate is more than 75 per cent. We have still to cover some ground in literacy in general and female literacy in particular. But, it should be a matter of satisfaction that the number of literates, which was rising till 1991 has started coming down. In some States like Kerala and Mizoram, literacy rate is more than 85 per cent although, in some other States like Bihar, it is not even 35 per cent. Similarly, our rural areas have less
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2010 for the course CEDT 601 taught by Professor Ypr during the Spring '00 term at Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

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