200 million Indians don’t own a TV, phone or vehicle

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One-sixth of the country, or 200 million Indians, don’t possess any of the most basic assets like a transistor or TV, phone, a vehicle of any kind or a computer. In three states—Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and MP—close to a third of the households own none of these assets.

On Tuesday, the registrar general of India released the final figures for the first phase of Census 2011, known as the Houselisting and Housing Census. The data shows how India lives—how many people to a house, how they light their houses and where they get their water from, and some of the things they own.

The Census measures ownership of five assets—radio/transistors, TV, phone, computer and mode of transport. Households with a radio have fallen, while TV ownership has risen.

One-third of rural India has TV
Yet, there remains a stark difference between TV penetration in rural and urban India: Just one-third of rural households own a TV set, while over 75% of urban households own one. TV penetration is highest in Delhi (88%), followed by Tamil Nadu (87%), Punjab, Chandigarh and Puducherry. Bihar has by far the lowest TV penetration of any state at just 15%.

2011 is the first year that the Census is counting mobile and landline use separately, and the numbers show that telephony in India is overwhelmingly about mobile phones. While 63% of households owned a phone, 53% owned a mobile phone only and another 6% owned both a landline and a mobile phone. Over half of rural households and three-quarters of urban households now own a mobile phone.

Here too, there’s considerable regional variation; east and northeast India have low telephone density, with Chhattisgarh and Orissa being the country’s worst. Delhi, Chandigarh, Goa, Lakshadweep and Kerala all have a teledensity close to 90%

About 20% of urban households and 5% of rural households now own a computer. Internet penetration at the household level follows further behind—just 1% of rural households own a computer with internet, and 8% of urban households. Chandigarh, Delhi and Goa have household internet penetration above 10%. Close to half of India owns no means of transport. Just 5% of households own a car, 21% own a two-wheeler and 45% own a bicycle.

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