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INDIA’S LONG ROAD: RURAL DEVELOPMENT

By

Sakchie Saluja, pursuing B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) from Amity University of law, Noida.


“The village is the cell of the national body and the cell-life must be healthy and developed for the national body to be healthy and developed.” – well alluded by SRI AUROBINDO.


India as it is said is the “land of villages.” The heart of our nation resides in rural areas. As quoted by the father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, “India lives in her seven hundred thousand villages.” Although the term “Rural development” has been widely used, what constitutes it seems to have changed significantly. So, the question is what exactly is rural development. Rural development means improving the living conditions of people living in rural areas.[1] There are many definitions to it. The fact is that today more than half of the Indian population lives in rural areas and most of them depend upon agriculture as their primary source of income. Agriculture is an integral part of many world economies, especially the developing ones, and hence plays a significant role in the rural development[2]. The strength and prosperity of our nation depend upon the strength and prosperity of rural areas. Therefore, it is important to free rural India from poverty.


Our government is trying its best to bring rapid growth and development in the villages. We derive major contributions to GDP from rural workers. Upwelling schemes for rural electrification, open defecation free villages, skill development, Prime Minister rural housing mission, Prime Minister Gram SadakYojana, DeenDayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana, National Rural Livelihood Mission, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, National Social Assistance Programme etc., has modified the doddering face of Indian villages.[3]


Empowering rural economy through digitalisation schemes, regeneration of traditional industries schemes, entrepreneurship schemes, water conservation schemes, MGNREGS, has further added to the rural development and has brought direct benefit transfer. Achieving hygiene and sanitation through government initiatives like SWACHH BHARAT MISSION has further added to the list.[4]


According to the World Bank, “Rural development as a strategy designed to improve the economic and social life of a specific group of people – The rural (people) poor. It involves extending the benefits of development to the poorer among those who seek a livelihood in rural areas. The group includes small-scale farmers, tenants and the landless.”[5] Rural development is a strategy that encompasses all the aspects and factors to achieve an overall spectrum of development and growth. This development is needed to benefit the poor and weaker sections of the society. Rural development seeks to transform all the sectors of the rural economy – the primary sector, the secondary sector and the tertiary sector. It is concerned with the improvement of the standard of living of the rural people through the provision of health and medical facilities, employment opportunities including vocational training, educational facilities, etc. It brings about significant improvement in the socio-economic conditions of the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, the landless agricultural labourers and the marginal and small farmers.


The village land of India is adorned with lush green land, protected livestock and the unexplored pool of species which needs special attention from the government. The recent extent of India from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) did mark the promise of self-sustained indigenous production of India. The decision was to safeguard the interests of industries like agriculture and dairy.


Rural development should include social, economic and overall development of a rural area. It should be an all-round project. Employment creation is the main component of rural development. Therefore, to generate employment opportunities in villages, there is a need to strengthen the agriculture sector and also set up other industries. A digital platform should be built for active labourers to check the process of employment generation. Integrated and organic farming methods should be promoted. Economic models like Gig’s – economy must be brought into action to counter seasonal as well as disguised unemployment from the rural economy.[6]Better planning must be done by the government, to boost up the local economy of a village. Better roads connectivity should be put in the major plan of action. Basic amenities should be made available.


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, well said by Nelson Mandela. Six Indian states account for about 70 percent of all illiterates in India. India currently has the largest population of illiterate adults in the world with 287 million people, with a major proportion in rural India. While India’s literacy rate rose from 48 per cent in 1991 to 63 per cent in 2006, “population growth cancelled the gains so there was no change in the number of illiterate adults'', says the UNESCO report.[7]


Thus, education is the most important tool which can pave the way for the development of every other factor. The government has been trying to come up with schemes to strengthen education and integrated skill development of the youth of rural India. Primary education has been made free and compulsory for the rural people so that the maximum number of villages may be literate. Schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have been proved effective. Women in rural India are still devoid of their ‘fare-share’ in the field of agriculture and labour. Strengthening of the service sector has emerged as a boon for women.[8] The problem of the ownership of the land should be resolved. The cottage industries should be established to further accelerate growth. The villages should be in sync with the urban areas.


Another matter of concern is the crime rate which has increased in rural areas and especially against the marginalized sections of society. The death rates in rural areas due to domestic violence has also not seen any change. The banning of liquor consumption in states like Bihar has provided to be an effective step. People should be made aware and educated about the rights and wrongs. Proper healthcare facilities should also be provided with an adequate number of doctors and nurses. Other robust steps should be adopted towards rural development.


It is often felt that the migration of people from rural to urban, in search of employment or better lifestyle, is putting severe pressure on urban amenities.[9] The low wage migrants are thus left with no other option than to live in unhygienic condition. There is a need to make the rural economy stronger and create employment opportunities in rural India. This will help in reducing the disparity in per capita income of rural and urban which has always remained high. [10]Significant growth is required in the rural area. Non-farming activities should also be encouraged.


The development of rural India is of utmost importance for the development of the country. If India needs to become the next superpower in the world, it needs to tap into the potential of rural India. Given its size and population, no business house can afford to neglect the consumer spending power of rural India. India has many heroes that the rural population should look up, like M.S. Swaminathan, the father of the green revolution in India, Verghese Kurien, the father of the white revolution in India. The progress of a nation depends upon the progress of its villages. We can say that the rural areas are the backbone of a nation.


Our rural areas have undergone major changes since independence. We should try to keep in mind the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while trying to achieve the rural development goal. We need to join our hands with the government in embellishing its goal of the development of rural India.[11]

“The true India resides in its villages”, well said by Charan Sing

[1]Rural development - Wikipedia

[2]What role for agriculture in rural development? | CAP Reform

[3]https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/government/schemes-for-rural-development-launched-by-government-of-india

[4]Schemes and programmes of Ministry of Rural Development | National Portal of India

[5] World Bank. (1975) Rural development. Sector policy paper. Washington, DC: The World Bank. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/522641468766236215/Rural-development

[6] Maurya, N K and J V Vaishampayan (2012): “Growth and Structural Changes in India‟s Industrial Sector,” International Journal of Economics, Vol 6, No 2, pp 321-331.

[7]Annual Report : (2008) Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Education, India

[8] Mazumdar, I and N Neetha (2011): “Gender Dimensions: Employment Trends in India, 1993-94 to 2009-10,” Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 46, No 43, pp 118-126.

[9] Chand, R and S K Srivastava (2014): “Changes in the rural labour market and their Implication for Agriculture,” Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 49, No 10, pp 47-54.

[10]Chand, R., R Saxena and S Rana (2015): “Estimates and Analysis of Farm Income in India, 1983-84 to 2011-12,” Economic & Political Weekly, Vol 50, No 22, pp 139-145.

[11] Pellissery, Sony (2012). "Rural Development". Encyclopedia of Sustainability. 7: 222–225.