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Stark rural-urban divide reveals most Indians do not possess washing machines, refrigerators

Next time you wear clothes cleaned in a washing machine and crisscross between air-conditioned bedroom and the kitchen to grab fruits from the refrigerator, pause to remember your privilege. Data says that all the three equipment mentioned are possessed by less than 40 per cent of the Indian population.

According to the National Family Health Survey, just 37.9 per cent of the total households in the country own a refrigerator. While only over a quarter own an air conditioner or cooler, about 18 per cent washing machines. Even though the proportion seems relatively low, this is an improvement from the situation five years back.

The data from the NFHS 4 (2015-16) said that just 13.6 per cent of the households owned washing machines, while 17.9 per cent had ACs or coolers. On refrigerators, only close to 30 per cent of the homes owned them. Ten years prior to that, the NFHS 3 survey revealed only 15.7 per cent of the households had refrigerators and did not take into account details of ACs and washing machines.

Urban-rural divide
The urban-rural divide about the ownership of these appliances is quite stark. The NFHS says that rural India still has to catch up as most households are accustomed to a lifestyle devoid of these white goods. Picture this. In 2021, just 9 per cent of the rural households owned a washing machine, while the proportion was 36 per cent in urban areas. Close to 16 per cent of rural households had ACs or cooler, and almost 40 per cent of the urban populace possessed this. And when it comes to refrigerators, it was owned by 63.4 per cent of urban households, but just a quarter of the rural households had them.

Looking at the state-wise data, Punjab is the topper in household ownership of refrigerators (87.2 per cent) and in the second position on ACs and washing machines (70 and 66.4 per cent, respectively). While 74,3 per cent of the Delhi households own ACs or coolers, 67 per cent of Goan homes have washing machines.

Of all the other appliances and furniture, the mobile phone is something that almost 93 per cent households were owing it . Close to 90 per cent of the households own cots, and 88 per cent have electric fans. The Hindu BusinessLine

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