Insight- Rural India’s Kitchen

As per World Bank’s Gross Domestic Product ranking (GDP) based on purchasing power parity (PPP) India ranks 3rd, while in terms of GDP it ranks 9th. Bloomberg contemplates India will overtake countries like Japan, United Kingdom to reach the third position by 2030 in terms of GDP. Whether this will happen or not questionable. But we can be sure of thing- our country is full of paradoxes. As per our own planning commission, more than one-fifth of India’s population lives below the poverty line; 25.7% in Rural India and 13.7% in Urban India. This is when, to be considered a poor – one needs to be extravagant and spend around Rs. 27 and Rs. 33 per day per person in Rural and Urban areas respectively

The necessities to survive are few, ‘roti kapda aur makaan’ (Food, clothing, and shelter) are said to be the three main necessities for living. Agreed, living without eating is unimaginable, and to eat you need food, for food you (or someone else) need to cook, and to cook you need a kitchen. Correct, we do need to cook; more than 99% of the Indian households (HHs) cook. But sorry, wrong assumption about the kitchen, 38% of Indian HHs don’t have a separate ‘kitchen’ area either inside or outside their houses. As usual this gap is wider between the Urban/Rural HHs. While one-fifth HHs in Urban India don’t have a designated area as kitchen, the figure is 47% (or nearly half the Rural HHs).

To the Rural HHs the definition of open kitchen is slightly different than ours. While for us open kitchen, is the new interior decoration trend. It’s up market to have the boundaries between our kitchen and dining areas merged. In Rural area, (they being the uneducated ones) for them open kitchen is just that- an open kitchen. It is a reflection of poverty where one can’t afford to have a kitchen area within the house.  One-sixth of the Rural HHs cook outside the house. 55% of these open kitchens are a place outside the house without any shade or boundaries, where a few utensils and cookware maybe seen lying around for the women folk to cook on.  Even for the majority, 83% of the HHs who do the cooking inside the house, 45% of them don’t have a separate kitchen area.

If by chance one is not appalled by the figures above, there is more. Being an Urban women, like the majority of the urban HHs cooking as per me is done by LPG/PNG gas connections. If due to some reason the subscription is delayed the kitchen just closes off with immediate effect. Any of us (atleast no one in my periphery), knows how to cook by any other method, except maybe electricity. Thus, for me to digest that only one-tenth HHs in Rural India use LPG/PNG to cook, is just too much food for thought.

Going to the jungles to collect wood, drying them and then using them as fuel to cook is laudable or laughable (I don’t know which).  62.55% HHs in Rural India do just that, it’s difficult to understand what is more difficult – cooking itself or collecting the fuel required for cooking. For HHs members who are not burning away their lungs with the smoke of wood, there are other fuels like crop residue (12%) and cowdung cake (10.9%). Now, one living in Urban India might need to google how to cook by crop residue, I had to do the same.

Maybe this is the reason that our Honourable PM Narendra Modi launched the ‘Give it Up’ Campaign in April this year. I personally feel that the appeal is simple, people who want and can afford to give up their LPG subsidy should, so that a HH which can’t afford the connection can be given one. 2.5 million HHs, me included have ‘Given It up’, have you??

At Quantta we do not just give you the figures but we help our customers understand the nuances of the Urban Rural divide. We show you the problem and provide the solution too.