The Rural-Urban Dichotomy: India’s Development Goes Haywire

The rural and urban India

The rural and urban IndiaIt is said that India lives in its villages. Such a statement, even in an age when India has ‘progressed’ to become the next big thing on the horizon and there is sponsored mass urbanization all around, stands true. Most of India’s people live in the villages, and the food that those in the city eat – at least the wholesome and healthier variety – comes from the villages. The villages in India also contribute the cheap labour, which in a way is the basis on which India has built its edifices of progress, development and growth. Under normal circumstances, if such a region was so important it should have reflected in its economic and developmental standing. However, that is not our experience.

Read: Is Village Life Better Than City Life?

In spite of being the supposed backbone of our development, the rural areas lie in varying levels of impoverishment. They lack access to the basic facilities in most cases. Now the question that comes up is why should these people be empowered, disturbing the comforts of the charlatans and the greedy! Why should the suppressed be brought to light? Why should they be helped to get ahead in life?

Basic rural requirements – Food, housing, employment etc.

The first thing that needs to be understood is that majority of the cheap labour that is used in sectors such as factories and construction comes from the rural areas and if proper care is not taken then this source will dry up one day or will become sterile and unproductive – it will become a burden as opposed to a boon.

These people need to be provided the basic necessities at subsidised rates – this is especially true of food sources that are rich in protein and help them perform better. They should have homes (this is being tried to address through the Indira Awaas Yojana) and education that enables them to perform their responsibilities with elan. One can only imagine how this will benefit the various sectors where these labourers work – there will be a significant increase in productivity across the country and as such there would be a greater number of entities – both within India and outside it – that would want to be a part of it. Employment, preferably for all, needs to be the watchword right now.

Vocational education

The second aspect of this argument is that the service sector is rapidly expanding in India with new entities – both from India as well as outside – starting off with a positive regularity, so to speak. Now India’s advantage lies in the fact that it has the largest young workforce. But a significant amount of the workforce is located in the urban areas. If the interest in this sector continues to increase at the present rate there could very well be a situation where the supply for this sector may be insufficient. In such a situation, if sufficient skilled labour can be sourced from the rural areas, then it would only be to the advantage of the country in the long run.

For this to happen the Government should be looking at setting up schools and colleges in these areas so that proper education and training can be imparted to them. Vocational education also needs to be imparted to them so that companies – especially industries – are interested in setting up units in these supposed hinterlands. This will also help the labour force in these places to be brought up at par with the skilled labour sector in the urban areas.

The Digital India programme, which aims to connect the rural areas in the country, is a noble initiative as access to internet and other modern means of communication will help the existing generations and newer ones in these regions get access to the latest information – knowledge, they say, is power – and improve their lot substantially. However, the scheme has faced some problems in terms of civil liberties. It is being said in certain circles that this facility could actually be used in order to carry out mass surveillance on common people without their consent. Also, from the point of view of common sense it remains a challenge to execute this programme properly considering the woeful state of infrastructure in these areas.

What did Karl Marx say! 

Karl Marx had stated the obvious, that in order to have a thriving superstructure it is important to have a solid base. But looking at the economic reality of India, the superstructure is one composed of the parasitic urban upper tiers and the base would comprise the rural poor who continue to live a denigrated life.

The so-called administration and policy-makers that are there for their own perpetuation have not always favoured the hapless rural poor as and when there were no extraneous reasons. One need to ask, can India sustain itself without a strong rural base in the available dispensation of resource management. The chasm between the splurging urban haves and the rural have-nots is increasing alarmingly.

Anybody can say that just merely forming some policies will not help. But who can say what exactly is needed to be done, for sure! Solution is, in fact, embedded in the problem. Who can look into it, can say.