Thiruvananthapuram: There is sharp income inequality in Kerala with the number of landless families in the state high according to the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) by the federal government in India

This is despite the state priding itself on being an early initiator of land reforms.

The SECC 2011, launched four years ago, is a treasure trove of data about the nation, and is also the first in independent India’s history. The one before this was released in 1932, a good 15 years before India shook off British rule.

According to SECC data, Kerala has 6.29 million families with 4.43 million families, or 70 per cent, having a highest earning household member with salary less than Rs5,000 (Dh290) — a sharp reminder of income inequality in the state, which boasts of a trillion rupees in annual remittance coming in from expatriates.

Only in about 770,000 families, or 12 per cent of the total number of families, the monthly income of the highest earning household member is above Rs10,000. This is better than the national average. Across India, only 8 per cent of families have a highest earning member drawing over Rs10,000 per month.

Keralites’ eagerness to own private transport is also evident in the data, which shows that 1.92 million families, or about 30 per cent of total households in the state own motorised vehicles or fishing boats. Nearly 600,000 families, or about 10 per cent of the state’s households, own a four-wheeler.

Not surprisingly, 2.6 million households, or 42 per cent of the total, own a refrigerator, and 3.8 million households, or 61 per cent, own a mobile phone, but surprisingly 450,000 households (7 per cent) do not own either a land or mobile phone.

Slightly over 40 per cent of the families in Kerala’s rural areas are landless, and they survive by taking up manual casual labour. This is higher than the national average of 38 per cent, which is a surprise given the early adoption of land reforms in Kerala compared to most other states. While the number of landless people in the state may be a cause of concern, Kerala is above average on a national scale, where more than half of rural India does not own any land.