The first part of IndiaSpend's three-part series on the eight north-eastern states analysed economic indicators, and the second part physical infrastructure. The third part will look at social indicators, such as literacy, infant mortality, school enrolment, and crimes against women and children.
Mizoram is India’s third-most literate state, following Kerala and Lakshadweep, with literacy rates of 93.91 % and 91.8%, respectively.
Mizoram also leads the northeast–and India (Goa with 84.7% is second)–in female literacy, with 89.3% of women literate, attributed to the efforts of non-government organisations (NGOs), church schools in remote areas, and village councils. Tripura has the northeast’s second-highest rate of female literacy at 82.7%, fifth in India.
Tripura was second in the northeast’s overall literacy list, with rate at 87.2% in 2011, according to the census, although this NDTV report, quoting a 2012 government survey under the supervision of the Indian Statistical Institute, said Tripura had replaced Kerala as India’s most-literate state with a rate of 94.6%.
Arunachal Pradesh had the lowest literacy rate among the eight north-eastern states with 65.4% in 2011, the second-lowest in India.
About 77% of Arunachal Pradesh’s population is rural, where the literacy rate is 59.9%. It also has the lowest female literacy rate in the northeast: 57.7%.
Assam has the second-lowest literacy rate among the eight north-eastern states, 72.2%.
Nagaland’s primary school drop-out rate more than four times national average
Nagaland has the highest primary school (grade I to V) drop-out rate at 19.4%, more than four times the national average of 4.3%.
Nagaland’s drop-out rate is the highest in upper primary (VI to VIII) and secondary (IX to X) school, too, with 17.7% and 35.1%, respectively.
Nagaland also has a low transition rate(1) from primary to upper primary level, with 78.7% (equivalent to Uttar Pradesh with 78.5%) in 2013-14, lower than the national average of 89.7%.
Only 41% of schools in Nagaland have electricity, lower than the national average of 60%. It also has the second-lowest percentage of schools in India and the northeast with drinking water at 78.2%. Meghalaya has the lowest percentage of schools, 63%, with drinking water, both nationally and within the northeast. States such as Bihar and Jharkhand are performing better when it comes to drinking water in schools, with 92.7% and 91.9% respectively.
Only 31% of schools in Manipur have electricity. Assam has the lowest number of schools with electricity in India at 22.4%.
About 64% of schools in Meghalaya had separate toilets for girls in 2014-15, which is low compared to the national average of 93.08%.
Only 64% of schools in Meghalaya have drinking water, the lowest among the north-eastern states.
Assam has the lowest number of schools with toilets for boys in the country, 54.8%, and the second lowest (in India) with girls’ toilets at 74.9%.
Crimes against women are increasing, particularly in Assam
The number of crimes against women in Assam is highest within the eight states at 19,139. The state has 15.2 million women, according to Census 2011.
(*Crime rate is the number of crimes committed against every 100,000 women/children)
The northeast, with 3.8% of India’s population, reports 7% of the country’s crimes.
Assam also had the second highest rate of cases pending investigation in the whole country, 58.8%. Manipur had India’s highest rate of crimes not investigated, 87.2%, according to 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
Tripura had the second highest rate of crimes against women in the northeast at 1,615, but no more than 13.8% of cases awaited investigation in 2013.
Mizoram has the northeast’s highest rate of crimes against children at 48; Sikkim is second with 45.8.
Infant mortality very high in the northeast, except in Manipur
Assam had India’s worst infant mortality rate (IMR), with 54 deaths per 1,000 live child births in 2013; the same as the African nation of Burundi, according to the World Bank.
Almost 41% of Assam’s children are stunted (below normal height for the age); the national average is 38.7%; 9.7% are wasted (underweight and short) and 22.2% are underweight (below normal weight for age), according to the Rapid Survey of Children (RSoC) report of 2013-14.
There are variations in IMR across the north-eastern states.
Insurgency-wracked Manipur—often termed a failed state—is the safest place for childbirth in India, with the country’s lowest infant mortality rate, the same as Andaman and Nicobar Island, and equivalent to that of Oman and Bahamas, according to World Bank and theIndian government.
Manipur’s progress in reducing infant deaths is attributed to (a) better medical facilities (the doctor-to-population ratio in Manipur is 1:1000, against the all-India figure of 1:1700 and the trained nurse ratio is 1:600, compared to the all-India figure of 1:638); and (b) the statistically acknowledged empowerment of women.
In contrast, Meghalaya has a high IMR of 47 deaths per 1,000 live births, the same as Rajasthan; 42.9% of the state’s children are stunted, 13.1% wasted and 30.9% underweight.
(1) Transition Rate is the number of pupils admitted (new entrants) to the first grade of a higher level of education in a given year, expressed as a percentage of number of pupils enrolled in the final grade of the lower level of education (i.e. Grade V) in the previous year.
(Salve is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend. Pandit is an intern with IndiaSpend and a student at St. Xavier’s, Mumbai)
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