Rural development – what are the possibilities?..
India alludes to reference- ‘the land of villages. The diverse geography, rich flora & fauna, untouched environment and yet undiscovered plethora of art forms defines façade of rural India. As quoted by father of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi-
“India lives in her seven hundred thousand villages.”
Contemplating that the soul of India as a nation, is mirror to its enriched villages. Where more than 70% of population still relies on agriculture as livelihood; we derive major contribution to GDP from rural workers. The rural India attributes to major migrant population in urban areas, yielding to mixed demographic dividend. Upwelling schemes for rural electrification, open defecation free villages, skill development and Prime Minister’s rural housing mission; has modified the senile face of Indian villages. These up-roaring modern villages are installed with Common Service Centers (CSCs) as helping hand to all digital platforms and allied operations. Empowering rural economy through free technological aid and banking initiatives has brought zero balance accounts and direct benefit transfer; types of consumer-friendly services. Inculcating habit of hygiene and sanitation has been intensively targeted and achieved through government initiatives like SWACHH BHARAT MISSION and international initiatives like WASH.
We live in land of villages; the synonym to hopes and possibilities. Embellished with lush green productive land, sacred and protected livestock, and unexplored pool of species diversity needs special attention of government investors. Sustainability is key factor that runs our rural society since time immemorial. The recent exit of India from the infamous Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) did mark the promising self-sustained indigenous production of India, when compared to other economic giants.
Rural development must be an all-round holistic project rather than limiting its ambit to infrastructure. Rising rural population in urban areas indicates towards emerging need to make villages the hub of opportunities. Bringing in a digital platform for active labours will keep in check the process of employment generation and its management. Integrated and organic farming are great ways for opening rural economy. An integrated farming with ideals like Nutri-farms (where farming is planned according to nutritional diversity of fruits and vegetables grown in addition to livestock integrated); must be promoted. Economic models like Gig’s-economy must be brought in action to counter Seasonal as well as Disguised unemployment from rural economy. Diverse geography ranging from snow-laden to river-fetched villages, to marshy, and gravely dry villages- all contribute to area-specific production.
Our villages serve as hub to plenty of indigenous medicinal systems; unrecognized art forms and cultural variations. Recognizing and bringing them to mainstream will build confidence in rural population further providing them with marketing opportunities. Villages with attractive geographical spots must be refurbished and developed for Eco-tourism, without hindering any native organisms. Aligning resource management policies to spread forest-resource awareness will build a rather sustainable community. Promoting cottage industries along with Self Help Groups will create momentum of work, labour and capital.
Education and integrated skill-development of youth, specially girls will harness a whole population of development. Women in rural India are still devoid of their ‘fare-share’ in field of agriculture and labour. Strengthening of service sector has emerged as a boon for women. Use of schemes like FAME-II, will enhance connectivity and empower youths in non-agricultural entrepreneurial work front. Active and accountable governance will increase management and maintenance of villager’s needs.
Rural development is a web around multi-faced society. Where barring on liquor consumption in states like Bihar has decelerated the crime rates (especially domestic violence); there, inculcating nutrition and taste to food in mid-day meals has attracted the vulnerable group of students (including adult/old students). There is a rising need for training our rural population about commercialization. The case of alarming increase in Delhi’s air pollution in past few years, is just an example of how mismanagement in villages can distort the face of major cities. Commercial conversion of stubble to food-for-fodder animals or developing it as mushroom-mediums; are just some examples of how rural-potential can yield economic profit whilst saving us from environmental adversities.
Advancement in village healthcare sector; merging Anglo-Indian medicine systems; maintaining adequate number for doctor and nurses in rural hospitals are other robust steps towards rural development.Need for rural development in India
India’s rural front has undergone major changes since independence. Revitalized healthcare, education, skill-development, social-façade, agricultural-pattern, infrastructure and system of governance. Keeping Pandora’s box open for underlying fear on questionable- Resource Sustainability. Thus, warning us all to keep the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in mind, while unfolding the spectra of potent rural development.
- NIVEDITA ROY