It is necessary to distinguish standard of living from standard of life. If the former relates to the actual material conditions of prosperity, the latter reflects an ideal state of that prosperity. The aims of the individual or communal efforts are directed towards reducing the gap between the two, in short to realise the ideal. This would mean that neither the concept of standard of living nor the one of standard of life could be treated as a permanent state. Both change with the passage of time and the scientific and technological advance which add to the material prosperity of the people.

The real fact of the material standard of the people of a particular region or a district would be its economic prosperity as reflected in the changing monetary incomes taken in relation to the price level and a variety of other factors. The computation of the income of so small a unit as a district offers innumerable difficulties the main being the availability of comparable, adequate and correct data. This nullifies all the attempts of computation of district income on the same basis as the computation of national or provincial income. Hence the study of standard of living has to be carried out in a restricted sense though the importance of such a study cannot be minimized.

The standard of living enjoyed by the masses is a measure of the economic prosperity of the community. It depends upon a multiplicity of factors, such as ample natural resources, proper exploitation of factors of production, optimum level of population and the state of education of the masses. Optimum utilisation of the existing resources in relation to the total population is essential to raise the level of material comfort of the people. The standard of living of the people is best reflected in the size and pattern of income and expenditure of individual families.

The Chanda District Gazetteer published in 1909 gives a very vivid account of the material conditions of the people at the beginning of the twentieth century which is given below:-

" Taking first the land-owning and land-holding classes, these were classified at settlement into five classes according to the prescriptions of the. Settlement Code, and the results are shown in the following table in the form of a percentage on the whole body: -


















In average circumstances




Deeply indebted










"The boundaries between each class are necessarily elastic, but the classification is sufficiently accurate for practical purposes, and the broad conclusion that all save 7.6 per cent, of the malguzari body and all save 18.3 of the tenant body are comfortably off, or fairly so, may be accepted. The very low percentage of indigent tenants is, however, deceptive, and is merely due to the fact that the recent bad years have practically wiped out the E. Class tenant by forcing him to migrate or to abandon his holding. Below the tenant class and constantly interchanging with its lower ranks comes the body of field labourers, a class which the depletion of population has raised of recent years to comparative affluence. Ordinary unskilled labourers are similarly in great demand, and are commanding wages such as would not have entered into their most sanguine dreams Little more than ten years ago. Finally, the bulk of the remaining population is composed of artizans and 'base mechanicals' practising hereditary crafts. These have, as will be seen in the section on Manufactures, in many departments gone to the wall before outside competition, and although numerous exceptions are to be made in favour both of particular occupations and of especially skilled individuals, this class is at present the most to be commiserated in regard to their material condition. They have, many of them, had to watch the dwindling of their earnings and to learn that hardest of all lessons, how to reduce their former standard of living."

"The surroundings of the people, to western ideas hare, comfortless and even squalid, are pleasant enough for a race that neither knows nor desires anything better: indeed, with all is said, the average village homestead will bear comparison with the Scotch crofter's hut of little more than a century ago. the front doors of which were regularly flanked by a noble dung-heap. If the Indian cultivator's door were similarly adorned it would be a hopeful sign; at present he wastes and misuses manure horribly. In the interior of the District, two distinct standards of comfort may be observed, that of the aboriginal tribes and that of the Maratha or Telugu; the difference extending to habitation, food, clothing and luxuries. "

" The Gond wants but little beyond what the jungle and the bari around his house will provide; salt, liquor, some grain and tobacco, a minimum of clothing, iron for his axe and a few other simple tools, gaudy beads for himself and his wife: give him these, and the run of the jungle, and he will ask for nothing more. He loves, in fact, 'to live in the sun, seeking the food he eats, and pleased with what he gets.' Incidentally it may be remarked that this simplicity is by no means incompatible with good living. To say nothing of forest berries and 'roots of relish sweet,' it is to be feared that many a fat buck finds its way into the family pot, and, even without this surreptitious addition, fowls, mice, and 'such small deer' lend variety to a menu which no scruples of caste circumscribe. The Mara Gond's house, too, in the remoter parts of the Zamindaris, is occasionally a very substantial erection: the walls are formed of barked logs laid horizontally and kept in position by upright posts: the interstices are daubed with mud. and thatch of jungle grass covers all in. Withal, the whole costs the builder little beyond the labour of construction. The normal Gond dwelling is, however, built of strong wattle, supported by thick posts at the four corners, the inner surface of the walls plastered with clay. The roof is thatched and the whole surrounded by a strong wattle fence within which he has sometimes cattle-sheds and shelter for goats, hens and other domestic animals. The ordinary transactions of life are carried out by barter, because money is scarce: this scarcity, does not by any means imply poverty."

" Among Marathas and Telugus the standard of living is higher, and the family budget contains more items. Houses cost more: an ordinary tenant will spend Rs. 50 to Rs. 100 or more on his house; a malguzar Rs. 150 to Rs. 300, or, if the house be of brick and tiled even up to Rs. 600 or Rs. 700. Poor men live in houses of wattle and daub thatched with grass or bamboo matting. Tiles and even corrugated iron are coming more generally into use, and are as elsewhere, a sign of wealth and progress. On food, a Brahman Malguzar would ordinarily spend from Rs. 20 to Rs. 50 a month for a normal family of two or three adults and as many children. A considerable item in a malguzar's monthly bill is the entertaining of travellers and native officials on tour, such as police and revenue officers; a Kunbi malguzar would in this way spend from Rs. 15 to Rs. 25, but a Brahman malguzar is required to dispense hospitality on a more liberal scale. Expenditure on clothing has increased considerably of late years, and a substantial malguzar will spend up to Rs. 50 a year in providing raiment for his family. Even a coolie can nowadays launch out into a number of luxuries. A coolie family consisting of a husband regularly earning five annas a day, his wife earning 3 annas a day, and two children will probably spend his wages in some such fashion as follows:-

On food, roughly Rs. 8 a month at the rate of two pailis of juari and half a paili of rice per diem; on spices and condiments including salt some Re. 1=4 per mensem: on oil for culinary purposes 5 or 6 annas; on kerosene oil, about 8 annas, at the rate of a pice a day and at least Rs. 3 or Rs. 4 a month on country liquor and tobacco. Clothes have to be bought once or twice a year at an expenditure of perhaps Rs. 20. With a little care this income is ample, but as a rule that care is not forthcoming, and in any case as a matter of principle the coolie is sure to be in debt to the extent of a few rupees. The personal ornaments of his wife would ordinarily be worth some Rs. 10 or Rs. 15. The great pitfalls in the way of the unthrifty are drink and the love of ostentation; the former is the curse of the aboriginals and lower castes, while the latter appeals to all classes alike all over India, taking, as is well known, its most acute form in the expenditure on marriages on which the income of one or two years is often squandered in a lump. There seems much in the view that attributes this lavish expenditure on vain show to the low standard of material comfort: the people really know very few other ways of spending their money. Hosts of dependants, love of litigation, sub-division of inheritances are contributory causes to unthrift: all of these are well known, none are peculiar to the District and they need not therefore he emphasised. It is of more interest to consider what effect western civilisation has had or is having on raising the standard of comfort. So far this influence has gone for little, outside the towns of Warora and Chanda, and even in those towns it has done little more than add a thin veneer to the old mode of living. The use of kerosene oil and matches is universal, but the small chimneyless bazar-made lamp of tin or earthenware still practically holds the field: the triumph of foreign cloth and iron has simply been gained by supplanting the local pro-ducts, and need not here be taken into consideration except in so far as to admit that the people are nowadays better and more cheaply clad than formerly. In the towns, some of the higher native officials have chairs, tables and lamps and a few other minor pieces of furniture after the European  fashion, but the ordinary well-to do native non-official has  not followed this lead: indeed, such innovations are still regarded with some suspicion, and those who introduce  them are apt to incur the invidious sobriquet of 'reformers' and find themselves in a fair way to achieve social ostracism. Some time ago, a soda water factory which guaranteed Brahmanical soda water was opened in Chanda but the concern became bankrupt. Despite this, the use of ordinary soda-water is becoming more and more prevalent. Two bakeries which purvey European bread have recently been  opened in the town but are patronised solely by Musalmans. Refined sugar is gradually superseding gur, and for the first time in 1905-06 outstripped the latter in the Chanda octroi returns.

A few Swadeshi enthusiasts have, during the last few years, been preaching a crusade against refined sugar, the story that it is cleansed with bullock's blood being widely spread: its sale has thus been considerably reduced but it is slowly recovering. On the whole the old order shows but little disposition to yield place to the new."

The following extract taken from the Census Report of Central Provinces and Berar for the year 1931 throws some light on the standard of living enjoyed by the people in the region of which Chanda district formed a part:-

" As only such working class families, of which the total income does not exceed Rs. 50 a month, have been considered, the majority belongs to the poorer classes, and on an average nearly 65 per cent of the income is spent on food. The percentage of expenditure on food does not decrease with the rise of incomes, as one would expect from Engel's Law. This is due to there being a higher number of persons per family in the higher income classes and also due to many workers in the higher income class having their own houses and thus not having to spend a portion of their income on rent. The operation of Engel's Law will, however, be clearly discernible if we make allowance for these two factors; and it would be more or less apparent that an increase in income is attended with a tendency to decrease the percentage expenditure on food and increase that on others. Percentage expenditure on rent and clothing does not show the expected increase according to Engel's Law. This is due to the fact that the standard of housing and clothing observed amongst Indian labour does not vary so much with income, as with social standing, and local and communal custom. Moreover, the families in the higher income classes prefer building their own houses and save the rent if they have the means to do so. As for clothing, the minimum requirements in Indian climate, specially in the plains, are limited, and clothes of better quality are considered luxury to be indulged in only on festive occasions.

Expenditure on household requisities is very low, both absolutely and in proportion to the total expenditure. This really means that the bare necessaries of life are cut down to the lowest possible minimum, and indicates a low standard of living. Furniture is practically unknown, and bedding and utensils are of the cheaper kind. Mosquito curtains arc hardly ever used, and malarial fever is most common amongst these workers. Improvised bedding and a limited number of cheap  utensils do not promote cleanliness, and the former is not adequate to ward off occasional dampness and exposure to changes of climate. Such conditions lower the vitality and decrease the power of resistance to disease.

Miscellaneous expenditure includes expenditure on luxuries, conventional necessaries and social amenities, and is the real indication of affluence of the working class families under consideration. It follows Engel's Law closely. It is to be noted, however, that the standard of living in the higher income classes is not. proportionately higher as their families are comparatively bigger.

The analysis of all the budgets gives the following percentage expenditure on the main groups of commodities. A comparison is also made with corresponding percentages in the Bombay City: -


Central Provinces

Bombay (1921.22)


Per cent

Per cent




Fuel and lighting









Household requisites






The size of the families averaged is not the same, and the greater percentage of expenditure on food in the higher income classes is mainly due to their families consisting of a large number of persons. As the size selected is of the standard family of one man, one woman and two children, which happens to be the mode, the results have been tabulated for the two important centres for a comparative study of the standard of living. "

During the interval of time after the publication of the old Gazetteer, the material conditions of living of the people in Chandrapur district have undergone remarkable changes. The squalid conditions of life have given way to better living. The material resources of life have brought about an improvement in The standard of comforts. Increase in agricultural and industrial production has resulted in an increase in the number of goods necessary for a better life. Though the increase in production and total income has been shared by the increasing population, the per capita income and the per capita consumption have increased considerably.

A considerable section of Adivasi population who used to subsist on a little bit of rice and roots, fruits and leaves of trees in the past has taken to consumption of cereals and pulses. The scientific management and exploitation of forest resources on the part of the State Government have created employment opportunity for them. The increase in income affords them a better pattern of consumption than before.

In the urban sector, a number of luxury articles, such as radio sets, wrist-watches, almirahs and fashionable clothes, which were very rare, have become more common. The total consumption has not only increased in quantity but has also been diversified. Besides the increase in income and production, social amenities have increased immensely. These amenities have produced a definite impact on the standard of living of the people.

The vast increase in the educational facilities has opened the way to the reorientation of the entire social fabric. The spirit of modern education has generated an attitude to question the validity of old ways of life, and exposed the insipidness of conservative beliefs. The broad outlook under the influence of a democratic pattern of society has changed the ideas of standard of living of the people.

The analysis of standard of living given below, describes six factors, viz., (1) income, (2) pattern of consumption, (3) cost of living. (4) state of education, (5) social amenities, and (6) housing conditions. The household is taken to be an unit of sampling. The findings are based on a sample survey and on the information about family budgets. Taking the average annual income as the basis of classification, the households are divided into three groups:-

Group I: Families with an annual income of Rs. 4.200 and above.

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

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