Wellbeing as a methodology in identifying differential vulnerability in a community: A Study in the semi-arids of Maharashtra.

Bidisha Sinha

Wellbeing is defined as the state of being that is derived from a person’s involvement in various “social, economic, political, cultural and psychological processes” and eventual functioning of these aspects in a person’s life. Since the society is composed of various sections whose historical and social trajectories have been different, inherent difference of perceptions about what constitutes needs and their corresponding satisfaction levels might also be observed, achieving different functioning, and hence different status of wellbeing. This, in turn, might be indicative of their respective vulnerabilities and creates a requirement of understanding the differences within the same society.
The current paper strives to employ a method of identifying vulnerabilities within the social structure in the semi arid region of Maharashtra by taking in the perspectives of the people themselves in assessing their own “objective and subjective needs”. The geographical location of the sample is also an area which suffers from the impacts of climate change and abrupt weather conditions like drought, irregularity of rainfall etc-- much of which aggravates the inherent difference in vulnerability. This is an attempt to detect those vulnerabilities and in future understanding of how the vulnerabilities might react to extreme changes.
The Study uses a combination of methodologies developed by WeD and have been suited to the geographical and social structure of the sample. The tools have been designed to capture the resource base that individuals command and the extent of need-satisfaction they achieve out of it. The sample has been divided into various reference groups based on social categories, age and gender demographics. The data has been then analysed for understanding whether needs and satisfaction of similar fields differ within the groups.
The differentiated responses could be mostly traced back to the individual strength and shortcomings that the groups have historically felt as a social sub-division or in unison.
Few results of the study are---
1) The forward classes in rural areas are more connected to agrarian livelihoods due to land-possession. This is also leading to diversion to regular or wage employment among the historically backward classes, which is also creating a demand for education among the backward classes compared to the forward classes.
2) Food, Health Care and Sanitation are areas of gross dissatisfaction across all the classes.
3) Contrastingly the need for Credits and Agricultural Inputs is claimed to be very low and the corresponding satisfaction to be very high. This is true for all classes.