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India's long road: Rural development


“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 the 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 the people living in rural areas. 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 depends 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. The strength and prosperity of our nation depends upon the strength and
prosperity of rural areas. Therefore, it is important to free the 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 Sadak Yojana, Deen Dayal
Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana, National Rural Livelihood Mission, National
Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana, Sarv Siksha
Abhiyan, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, National Social Assistance Programme etc.,
has modified the doddering face of Indian villages.

Empowering rural economy
through digitalization 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.

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.” 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 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 unexplored pool of
species which needs special attention of 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 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 in action to
counter seasonal as well as disguised unemployment from rural economy. Better planning must be
done by the government, to boost up 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 70per cent of all illiterates in
India. India currently has the largest population of illiterate adults in the
world with 287 million people, with major proportion in the 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.

Thus, education is the
most important tool which can pave the way for the development of every other
factors. The government has been trying to come up with schemes to strengthen
education and integrated skill development of youth of rural India. Primary
education has been made free and compulsory for the rural people so that the
maximum number of the villages may be literate. Schemes like Beti Bachao Beti
Padhao, has been proved effective. Women in rural India are still devoid of
their ‘fare-share’ in the field of agriculture and labour. Strengthening of
service sector has emerged as a boon for women. The problem of the
ownership of the land should be resolved. The cottage industries should be
established to further accelerate the 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 specially against the
marginalized sections of society. The death rates in rural areas due to
domestic violence has also not seen any change. 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 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. The low wage migrants are
thus left with no other option than to live in unhygienic condition. There is a
need to make 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.  A significant growth is
required in 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
rural population should look up, like M.S. Swaminathan, the father of the green
revolution in India, Varghese 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.































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