A survey has been done by the National Statistics Office (NSO)  regarding washing of hands with soap and water in India as it is one of the basic protective measures against CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19).



  • The Survey shows that it’s not a habit that comes easily to most Indians. 
  • The survey, the results of which were made public in a report titled ‘Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition’ in November 2019, covered 1,06,838 households (63,736 in rural areas and 43,102 in urban areas).
  • According to the survey, while members of most households (99 %) wash their hands before a meal, only those in 35.8 per cent households do so with “water and soap/detergent”.
  • While members of 56% urban households reported washing their hands with water and soap before eating, only 25.3% households in rural areas did so.
  • The percentage of households whose members practise hand washing ‘with water and soap/detergent’ before a meal was found to be lowest in Jharkhand (10.6 per cent) and the highest in Sikkim (87.1 per cent).
  • Apart from JharkhandBihar (14.3%), Odisha (15.1%), Uttar Pradesh (23.8%) and Tamil Nadu (27.3%) made it to the bottom 5 states which fared poorly on hand-washing.
  • Sikkim is followed by Himachal Pradesh (86.2%), Chandigarh (81%), Punjab (77.5%) and Delhi (73.5%) as states where most people washed their hands the recommended way – with water and soap.
  • Then, there are households where people wash their hands before a meal, but not with water and soap/detergent.
  • About 60.4% households — 69.9% rural and 42.1% urban — used only water to wash their hands before eating.
  • About 2.7% households – 3.5% rural, 1.3% urban -used “water and ash/mud/sand etc.” to wash hands. There were about 1% households that did not wash hands at all before a meal. 

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This low level of hand hygiene is likely to pose a major challenge as the country deals with COVID-19. In order to contain the spread of coronavirus, the government has advised people to frequently wash their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub as an effective way to kill viruses. The World Health Organisation too has advised people to frequently wash their hands.


The National Statistical Office (NSO) headed by a Director General comes under the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and is responsible for conduct of large scale sample surveys in diverse fields on All India basis. 

Primarily data are collected through nation-wide household surveys on various socio-economic subjects, Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), etc. Besides these surveys, NSO collects data on rural and urban prices and plays a significant role in the improvement of crop statistics through supervision of the area enumeration and crop estimation surveys of the State agencies.  It also maintains a frame of urban area units for use in sample surveys in urban areas. 

The National Statistics Office (NSO) has four main divisions:

  • Survey Design and Research Division (SDRD): This Division, located at Kolkata, is responsible for technical planning of surveys, formulation of concepts and definitions, sampling design, designing of inquiry schedules, drawing up of tabulation plan, analysis and presentation of survey results.
  • Field Operations Division (FOD): The Division, with its headquarters at Delhi/Faridabad and a network of six Zonal Offices52 Regional Offices and 117 Sub-Regional Offices spread throughout the country, is responsible for the collection of primary data for the surveys undertaken by NSO.
  • Data Processing Division (DPD): The Division, with its headquarters at Kolkata and 5 other Data Processing Centers at various places, is responsible for sample selection, software development, processing, validation and tabulation of the data collected through surveys. 
    • Price and Wages in Rural India collected through schedule 3.01(R) is being processed at DPC Giridih
    • In addition, DPD is also processing the data of Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS)
    • Industrial Statistics Wing (IS Wing), DPD, NSO, Kolkata is responsible for sample selection, data processing, validation and tabulation of the Annual Survey of Industries(ASI) data collected through a dedicated web-portal.
  • Survey Coordination Division (SCD): This Division, located at New Delhi, coordinates all the activities of different Divisions of NSO. It also brings out the bi-annual journal of NSO, titled “Sarvekshana”, and organizes National Seminars on the results of various Socio-economic surveys undertaken by NSO.

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