During the course of this century, the concept of the standard of living has undergone considerable changes. The changes are in conformity with the changing patterns and modes of civilised existence and the rising expectations on account of the influence of education. Broadly speaking, the concept of standard of living may be taken to mean the state of economic life of the people. It, however, depends not only upon economic condition of the people, but also on the state of education and social development. An analysis of the standard of living therefore becomes a study of the constantly changing patterns of income and expenditure. Such an attempt is made in the pages that follow.

Many of the old ways of life are now becoming insipid and contrary to the new outlook on life. The liberal ideas which were being advocated during the national liberation movement and the influence of democratic government have gradually changed the ideas of the standard of living of individuals.

The material resources of life have been gradually increasing. Though the increase in population counteracted, to some degree, the increase in the material resources, the available aids to economic life are obviously better than before. Diversification of agricultural and mechanical production has resulted in the better supply of a number of new commodities. A number of articles of luxury such as radio-sets, almirahs, wrist-watches and fashionable garments which were rarely found before, have become more common.

Besides the aids to economic life, social amenities, which have a definite impact on the standard of living of the people, have increased immensely. Educational facilities, which were meagre, are available to a great extent. Almost every big village has a primary school; every town or a bigger village has a high school. In Sholapur district there are colleges imparting instruction in various faculties such as arts, science, commerce and medicine. A number of public as well as private libraries, recreational centres, cinema houses. community radio-sets, etc., have contributed towards the bettering of the standard of living of the community as a whole. They have a strong impact on the outlook of the people.

A sample survey was conducted in 1969 in the rural and urban areas of the district to study the salient features in the living conditions of the people belonging to various income-groups. The survey was conducted at the following places, viz., Malshiras, Sangola, Pandharpur, Mangalwedha, Barshi, Kurduwadi, Karmala, Akluj and Sholapur.

The observations regarding the standard of living as reflected in income and expenditure patterns of the family budgets are given in the following pages. For purpose of analysis, the standard of living of the people of the district is conceived to be determined by (i) income, (ii) size of the household, (iii) volume and pattern of consumption, (iv) cost of living as reflected in prices of consumer goods, (v) state of education, (vi) volume and pattern of social amenities, (vii) housing conditions, and (viii) psychological attitude and tastes of consumers.

The methodology adopted for the survey was as follows:-

The household was taken to be an unit of sampling. Information regarding the family budgets was collected as per a proforma which included items such as size of family, earners, value of property, income, debt, savings, expenditure on various liabilities, family possessions, state of literacy and housing.

The survey also noted family possessions in the form of utensils, ornaments, costly garments and furniture.

The statistical data so collected was processed, tabulated and collated after classification of the families on the basis of income-groups. For purposes of classification the computed income rather than actual income was conceived to be the basis. The value of assets and immoveable property was calculated as per the prices current at the time of survey. The classification of families as per income was done in three distinct groups as given below:-

Income Group I

Families with an annual income of Rs. 4,200 and above.

Income Group II

Families with an annual income ranging between Rs. 1,800 and Rs. 4,200.

Income Group III

Families with an annual income of Rs. 1,800 and below.

Income Group I: The families in the higher income-group lived a luxurious life, as their annual income ranged well over Rs. 4,200. The people in the group comprised big landlords, merchants, commission agents, doctors, pleaders, highly-paid Government and non-Government officers, industrialists, professors and owners of transport companies. It should however be noted that very rich families were not included at the time of survey as the analysis of their standard of living would not be representative of the people in the district.

Many persons from this group owned their houses, while others lived in spacious houses. Their dwellings were not only well-furnished, but were equipped with some furniture. The drawing rooms of some of the families were found to be equipped with sofa-sets, centre-pieces, linoleums, radio-sets, fans and other articles of luxury. The equipment in the bed-rooms comprised cots, comfortable bedding sets, mosquito curtains, night-lamps and dressing tables while the kitchens were furnished with big cupboards, dining tables, gas-stoves, etc. Some even possessed luxuries like refrigerators and modern electrical appliances. Some families were found to have decorated their houses with fine paintings, lamps of various shades and colours, and painted the walls with pleasing colours.

The survey which covered 56 families from this group revealed that an average family was composed of three adults and three minors making a total of 4.5 units. Of the 56 families, only seven families had more than one earning member. Of the total 63 earners in 56 families, nine were mainly dependent upon their own business, five earned their living from agriculture while others were mainly dependent upon their occupations. Of the families surveyed, 35 owned houses, 17 owned landed property while only two families possessed property in the form of cattle. It was found that seventeen families did not possess property in any form, and depended for their livelihood upon the income from employment.

The annual income of the families in this group was derived from (i) land, (ii) house and (iii) occupation. The survey revealed that sixteen families derived their income from land which amounted to Rs. 5,790 on an average per family. Though 35 families owned houses, only 15 families could derive some income from the same amounting to Rs. 1,270 per annum. Of the 56 families, fifty families earned their living from various occupations other than agriculture which amounted to Rs. 6,800 per annum per family on an average.

After allowing a considerable amount of their total income towards meeting expenses on necessities, comforts and luxuries, people in this group could save a portion of their income so as to provide for the future. People in this group preferred to save in insurance and small savings rather than keeping the money in banks. Of the families surveyed, 35 or more than half reported a considerable amount of saving. The burden of debt in case of five families was also reported. This was for productive purposes, and was drawn mainly with the intention of making long-term investments in land, house and machinery. An important finding of the survey was that the people in this group were more outspoken about their rising expenditure, while they spoke about their savings with many reservations. They complained about rising expenditure which they attributed to rising prices. However, reading their statements in between the lines it became obvious that the rising expenditure was commensurate with the rise in money-income. A considerable portion of the rising expenditure could be attributed to increasing needs and swelling expectations about better living.

The monthly expenditure of a family on food items amounted to Rs. 170 and was distributed as follows:- cereals and pulses, Rs. 80; oil and ghee, Rs. 25; vegetables, Rs. 30 and milk, Rs. 35. The average monthly expenditure on non-food items amounted to Rs. 170 which comprised lighting, Rs. 15; domestic servants, Rs. 25; education, Rs. 25; entertainment, Rs. 20 and house-rent or municipal taxes and repairing charges, Rs. 90. In the category of food, cereals and pulses accounted for about 47 per cent of the total expenditure. Among the rest of the food items, oils, vegetables and milk and milk products accounted for 14 per cent, 17 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.

A number of well-to-do people in this group were found to have taken to modern fashions of wearing apparel prevailing in cities. The new varieties of cloth such as terylene, terywool, terene, nylon and rayon have also become quite popular in the district. Most of the people have become more dress-conscious than before. Communication through newspapers, radio, cinema and social intercourse with people in cities has enabled closer contact of villagers with urbanites, which has had salient effect on the wearing apparel. The survey revealed that the average annual expenditure of a family in this group on clothing was Rs. 550 or about 53 per cent of the total annual expenditure on non-food items.

In keeping with the immense progress of education in the State Sholapur district has taken long strides in the field. It was found that 37 families from this group gave prominence to education in their family budgets, and spent about Rs. 2,500 per annum for the same. University education was also found to have gained ground with a number of facilities in this group.

Of the families surveyed, 46 spent about Rs. 100 on religious matters per annum, while the expenditure on various social obligations of forty families was recorded to be Rs. 100 on an average. The average annual expenditure of a family on miscellaneous items was about Rs. 250 per annum.

Of the total annual expenditure on non-food items, clothing absorbed about 53 per cent, while religion, medical facilities, social obligations and miscellaneous items absorbed about 9 per cent, 9 per cent, 10 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively.

With the momentous increase in the avenues of spending, the pattern of expenditure of the people in this group was found to have changed to a great extent. The change is more definite and marked in urban rather than in rural areas.

In keeping with their income, many people in the group were found to save a part of their income. In the investment pattern, ornaments acquired a prominent position. The survey revealed that 34 families possessed gold ornaments, collectively valued at Rs. 30,000, while 33 of the surveyed families had costly garments such as shalu, paithani, shawls, jari articles and woollen clothes. The family possessions also included utensils of copper and stainless steel, crockery of fine quality, aggregately valued at Rs. 20,235, giving an average of Rs. 493.

The average cost of the furniture in these households was valued at Rs. 600, though some even possessed furniture worth Rs. 2,000.

The total monthly expenditure of a family in this group on food items was found to be 14 per cent of the total income which accounted for 55 per cent of the total expenditure.

As per the findings of Dr. Aykroyd, the standard of food of the people even in this group was not high enough. The revelations of his survey are given below:-

" Taking a family to consist of four, the annual expenditure on a satisfactory diet will be Rs. 240, and more if allowance is made for eight ounces of milk daily on the part of the children. The enquiries into family incomes have revealed that a well-balanced diet is evidently beyond the means of a large section of the population.".

Income Group II: People in this group characterise the middle class. This income-group comprises land-holders, traders, employees in Government and private services and teachers who represent what is called the white-collared gentry in urban areas, and land-holders in rural areas.

The survey covered 73 families from this group and an average family was found to be composed of 5.5 units (four adults and three minors). Of the 73 families surveyed, 47 families or about 64 per cent were dependent on a single earning member, while the remaining were dependent on more than one earning member. Only ten families could supplement their incomes with subsidiary occupations such as agriculture, business or service.

While 47 families or 64 per cent of total possessed property in the form of house, only 24 or 33 per cent of the total possessed property in the form of land. The number of families holding property in the form of cattle was still less, and this property was collectively valued at Rs. 14,200.

The survey revealed that though 47 families possessed property in the form of house, only eight could earn some income by way of rent, and 39 families owned houses which were just sufficient for them. The average rent receipts of a family amounted to Rs. 975. Of the 24 families who possessed landed property, eighteen were found to earn Rs. 2,478 on an average per annum.

Of the 73 families surveyed, eight were mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The occupational income of the remaining 65 families was found to be Rs. 3,262 per annum.

The agricultural land-holders were found to have been benefited by the rising prices of their produce. However, the rise in money-income was neutralised by the rising cost of living and the increase in prices of agricultural in-puts. In the same way, rise in money-incomes of salary-earners did not lead to a rise in their real incomes.

The entire picture of the standard of living of a middle class family is that of one striving hard to get the better of a life full of sordidness.

The propensity to struggle with economic realities could allow them to save a part of their income. Such saving was reported by 35 families. The savings were mainly deposited in banks or channelised in insurance or small savings.

Only 12 or 16 per cent of the families surveyed indulged in borrowing, ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs. 3,000. The purpose of borrowing was quite different from that of the people in the first and third income-groups. Middle class people generally borrowed to meet some contingent financial needs such as illness and social or religious occasions. The people generally borrowed from co-operative societies, the rate of interest charged varying from 7 per cent to 9 per cent.

The monthly expenditure of a middle class family on food-grains, oils, vegetables, milk and rent amounted to Rs. 65, Rs. 23, Rs. 16, and Rs. 23, respectively. The total monthly expenditure on all food-items taken together amounted to Rs. 128 per family. The pattern of expenditure of the people in this group suggested that more than 50 per cent of their expenditure was accounted for by food-items. In keeping with the general conditions in the country, the people in this group in the district could not afford sufficiently nutritious diet.

The monthly expenditure on lighting of the majority of the families amounted to Rs. 12. About 56 per cent of the families from this group employed domestic servants. The amount of expenditure on this item varied from Rs. 5 to Rs. 20 per month depending upon the nature of work ascribed to the domestic servants.

Education absorbed a sizable share of expenditure of a family, i.e., about 18 per cent of the total monthly expenditure on non-food items. Some families reported to have incurred an expenditure of about Rs. 600 per annum on higher education. However, the average expenditure of a family on education amounted to Rs. 18 per month.

Now-a-days entertainment has become a part and parcel of an individual's life. About 78 per cent of the families reported an average monthly expenditure of Rs. 14 on cinemas, loknatyas, dramas, etc. As many as 25 families were found to incur some expenditure on house-rent as all others owned their houses. The house-rent paid by the 25 families was reported to be Rs. 27 per month. As the middle class people could not afford to live in elegant localities of the town, the house-rent did not absorb a large amount of their expenditure, as in the case of families belonging to the higher income-groups. Not many people in the villages possessed decent and well-built houses, but the dwellings of the urbanites from this group were decent, clean and well-built, though not well-furnished.

The middle class people, especially urbanites, were found to be habituated to the purchase of fine quality cloth, and hence clothing absorbed a sizable part of annual expenditure amounting to Rs. 425 per annum or 53 per cent of the total annual expenditure.

Of the surveyed families from this group, 71 per cent reported an average expenditure of Rs. 90 per annum on religious matters. In keeping with changing times, most of the people accord a low priority to religious matters than those in the past.

Medical facilities in the district have increased immensely, as also the number of persons taking advantage of those facilities. As per the 1961 Census, there are three hospitals, two maternity homes, 34 dispensaries, and eight rural health centres in the district. The 1961 Census statistics show a very remarkable increase in the number of indoor and outdoor patients over that of the 1951 Census figures. The survey disclosed that the average expenditure on medicines was to the tune of Rs. 102 per annum.

The average annual expenditure of 47 families in this group on miscellaneous items was Rs. 40, while the rest of the families reported an average of Rs. 150. Travel and laundry habits of the people in this class have changed considerably with the result that the expenditure on miscellaneous items formed a sizable percentage of the total.

Findings of the survey reverberate the preferences of the families for the articles which by current standards make better living possible. However, the limitations of income restrict the arena of preferences.

The family possessions in this class comprised similar items as those possessed by the rich families, viz., utensils, ornaments, costly clothing and furniture, but the value and amount of these possessions were in keeping with their incomes. The families in this group possessed aluminium, brass and copper utensils, just sufficient for everyday needs. Stainless steel utensils were by no means rare in the households. Of the surveyed families from this group, 46 families, i.e., 63 per cent, possessed gold and silver ornaments, aggregately valued at Rs. 36,200, while forty families possessed costly clothings such as shalus, paithani, woollen suits, etc.

Only 31 families recorded possession of furniture in the form of table, chairs, stools, etc. But the furniture of the families did not comprise articles of luxury such as sofa-sets and refrigerators.

As bicycle provided a cheaper means of conveyance, it was a common item of possession in all the households from this group, but very few families had radio-sets or electric fans.

The middle class families were found to strive for balancing their income-expenditure budget so as to derive better living out of the limited resources. They were found to save a small part of their incomes to provide for the future.

Income Group III: The low income group includes landless labourers, craftsmen, village servants, forest workers in rural areas and petty shop-keepers, unskilled workers, employees of Government and private agencies and industrial workers in urban areas. The annual income of the people in this group is less than Rs. 1,800 per annum.

The housing condition of the majority of the people was found to be poor, their dwellings being squalid and ill-ventilated. Their localities could be characterised as squalid slums which were the bye-product of unplanned industrial development and the consequent over-crowding, caused by a flow of immigrants. This is particularly so about the conditions in Sholapur city which is a big centre of textile mills and hand-loom industry. Most of the industrial workers stayed in one-room tenements in urban areas, and in huts in rural areas.

The following extract taken from the 1961 District Census Handbook throws enough light on the housing conditions in the district:-" Classified by the number of rooms occupied, 74.06 per cent house-holds are occupying one-room dwellings and 17.51 per cent arc occupying two-room dwellings. The households occupying larger number of rooms are more in urban areas than in the rural. Average number of persons per room is 3.96 for total, 4.16 for rural and 3.53 for urban areas.".

As in the case of the working class in other areas of the State, the income of the people in this group was even less than the subsistence level. Under-employment and instability of employment subjected them to misery and low standard of living. The survey revealed that as it was difficult for them to make both ends meet, they had to resort to borrowing.

A majority of the daily wage earners and unskilled workers could hardly be sure of getting two square meals a day.

The survey of 45 families from this group revealed that an average family in this group consisted of five adults and three minors, making a total of 6.5 units. Besides the adult male members, female members from this income group were also found to toil for a living. In certain cases even children were not exempted from labouring for a meagre wage earning. A number of workers and employees from the rural and semi-urban areas followed agriculture as a subsidiary source of income. As compared to factory workers and employees, the economic condition of the landless labourers was very poor. The seasonal nature of their employment very often forced them to the state of economic destitution.

Seventeen families from this group possessed landed property worth about Rs. 13,658 each. These petty land-holders earned about Rs. 1,410 per annum on an average.

The average annual income of forty families in this group was found to be Rs. 1,500. In keeping with their meagre income, the saving potential of the people in this group was very negligible. A few of them were found to contribute to provident fund and insurance policies.

On the contrary a majority of the people were found to be indebted. This was more so in the case of petty land-holders and tenant-cultivators who were found to borrow from land mortgage banks, co-operative societies, and money-lenders for meeting the household expenses as well as agricultural requisites.

The average monthly expenditure of a family on food-items came to about Rs. 100 which was distributed as under:-cereals and pulses, Rs. 75; oils, Rs. 10; vegetables, mutton, etc., Rs. 10; and milk and milk products, Rs. 5. Of the 45 families surveyed from this group, two families could not afford to purchase vegetables, while six families, i.e., 13 per cent of the total, could not afford to purchase milk.

The monthly expenditure of a family on non-food items came to Rs. 33, comprising lighting, Rs. 5; domestic servants, Rs. 5; education, Rs. 10; entertainment, Rs. 5; and house-rent, Rs. 8. The expenditure of these families on items such as lighting, domestic servants, education, entertainment and house-rent was quite meagre. But even this was beyond their limited means. The annual expenditure on clothing amounted to Rs. 243, which absorbed about 50 per cent of total annual expenditure on items such as religion, medicine, social obligations and other miscellaneous items.

The consumption of milk and vegetables was found to be rare in some families. Though some persons indulged in the luxury of going to cinema house or a tamasha, their economic position could not afford it.

The family equipment of the group comprised brass, aluminium utensils and earthen pots. Most of them did not possess any furniture worth the name.

The possession of a bicycle, a wrist-watch and a radio-set was a rare occurrence, while the possession in regard to items of furniture was practically on the negative side. It was found that 42 per cent of the families possessed trinketry of petty value. They could not afford to have sufficient and comfortable bedding. The standard of literacy was very low as they were unable to send their children to schools in the past. Now the Government of Maharashtra provides free education to students from this class. This has facilitated education for persons belonging to this class. Now-a-days, many families have realised the necessity to send their children to schools.

A family in this group spent about 53 per cent of its income on food-items which accounted for 46 per cent of its total expenditure.

An interesting side-light is thrown on the standard of living of the working class in Sholapur by the information on size of family and proportion of earners which is given below. The Family Budgets of Industrial Workers Enquiry Report of 1944-45 covered 778 families from Sholapur, the particulars from which are given below:-

Number of families

Number of dependents


Living in the family

Living away from the family





The small number of absentee dependents in Sholapur was probably due to the fact that most of the workers had settled down in the city and constituted a working class completely detached from agricultural pursuits. The result of enquiries also suggested that the percentage of families having one earner, two earners, three earners, and four or more earners was 45.37, 35.09, 13.37 and 6.17, respectively. The Enquiry Report furnishes some useful data on the economic condition and consumption pattern of industrial workers in Sholapur during 1944-45. The findings of the Report suggested that while the average monthly income of the 778 families was Rs. 66 as. 15 ps. 6, the average monthly expenditure was Rs. 77 as. 7 ps. 4. It also reported percentage expenditures on food, clothing and footwear, rent, fuel and lighting, household requisites and miscellaneous items which amounted to 48.75, 14.57, 3.64, 12.20, 0.96 and 19.88, respectively. The family budgets revealed an average deficit amounting to Rs. 10 as. 7 ps. 10.

Conclusion: The findings of the sample survey as detailed above have their own limitations. However, the on-the-spot investigations and interviews with responsible citizens revealed a number of interesting facts. While an average man in the street in the district as elsewhere is but satisfied with his economic lot, and is in fact very outspoken about the economic ills faced by him, his economic condition has definitely improved. His complaints about economic ills might be correct on objective grounds, but they are more in the nature of a free vent to his expectations about life. It is not to be suggested here that there is alround progress in living conditions, but the fact remains that the standard of living in the past was much inferior than it is today. The expectations about standard of living in the past were in conformity with the low level of income prevailing then. The general progress of education, enlightenment during the national freedom movement, the growth of the trade union movement and social intercourse with city life have brought about a set of conditions under which every individual expects more than what he gets.

The cry about rising prices also is based upon certain forgetfulness about the past. While the prices were lower in the past, so were the incomes. It is however correct that the real wages of the fixed income group are dwindling. But the classes who are organised and are employed in productive activity have not been losers on account of rising prices.

It is worthy to note that the various progressive measures undertaken by the Government in the post-planning period such as agricultural reforms, tenancy reforms, advances for agricultural development, educational facilities, family planning and industrial development have helped immensely in improving the level of living of a large proportion of population. The agriculturist is definitely benefited by the various measures which have contributed to increase in his yield. The industrial worker has been a beneficiary because of the compulsion of payment of minimum wages to him. The Minimum Wages Act, the Factories Act and many other measures have assured him of an income which is higher than before. The condition of casual labour and landless labourers, however, has not improved during the post-planning era.

A special mention must be made about the family planning programme and educational development in the district. An average man has become quite receptive to the necessity of planning his family, while the targets of vasectomy and tubectomy operations and the use of condomes have been fulfilled during the last couple of years. The salient effects of this will be felt in the context of standard of living of the people in the future. The same can be said about the educational measures. The efforts of the State Government towards extension of educational facilities have had very salient effects on the changing living conditions of the people. The propagation of vocational education and technical education are expected to result in arresting the growing pressure of population on land.