“……..I would say if the villages perish, India will perish too. It will be no more India….”
Mahatma Gandhi…….In “Harijan” dated: 29th August, 1936
The need and significance of developing rural India can aptly realized from this historic statement made by Gandhiji, way back in 1936 which clearly advocated for the fact that the only way to ensure a holistic and sustainable growth in a rural nation like India ultimately lies in all round prosperity of its rural population. More than 833 million people live in 6,40,867 inhabited villages of this country and empowerment of these 833 million is an issue that needs urgent attention today as the world talks about inclusive development.
India still lives in its villages. Its economic growth and development depends to a large extent upon the development of it’s 833 million + strong rural population. The rural India has unharnessed resources and potential, hard working youth and traditional skills and they have to be nurtured into creating value-adding enterprises so that will create an environment of empowerment. Thus, today Agriculture and Rural Development has become a fundamental postulate of all the developing nations.
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT – VIEWS
It is often said that there are two India’s – Bharat which exists in the villages and India which thrives in the urban areas and if our country has to have real progress and make its mark on the Global stage, then these two India’s must converge, prosperity will have to come to our villages.
Visiting a village, even today supply of adequate drinking water is a problem. Illiteracy, particularly among the girls is the main peculiarity of our rural India. A few states tried to enroll and attract children in schools with the incentives of mid-day meal scheme, but all the same, universalization of elementary education is still a dream. Rural poverty and illiteracy has given our country the dubious name where highest number of child labourer in the world is on the job to feed the bellies. Health care is just rudimentary and few doctors are willing to work in rural areas. Villages are mostly dependent on Vaidyas, or other RMPs for their medical needs. Lack of proper infrastructure like roads, transportation, elecrticity, water, proper housing, educational schools, demotivate a person, whether a doctor, engineer or any educated personnel to go to villages and stay there with his family. Even the situation of agriculture is not so noteworthy. The Agriculture sector is by far the largest employer in terms of human resources in India as well as elsewhere in world. Ironically, at the same time it also the smallest sectoral contributor to the GDP of the nation.
GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES – The present government realized the gravity of the situation and has taken some important measures for agricultural and rural development.
In the field of agriculture also, government has initiated many plans and policies. like introduction of MSP, NABARD, the Second Green Revolution, Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana, Crop Insurance, Subsidy on fertilizers and HYU Seeds and many more.
- INTRA NATION COMPARISON
It is estimated that any return on investment in agriculture would be at least four times as effective in eradicating poverty as any other sector, and transformation in this sector would directly impact the lives of more than 600 million Indians. As per a report of the Economic Times, Punjab and Haryana, whose yield per hectare is the highest in India, are also the states with minimum poverty. On the other had, Maharashtra which is said to be the most industrialized state in India, has much higher incidence of poverty than that in Punjab and Haryana.
- INVESTMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION
Agricultural and Rural Development is not at all a loss making proposition. The main cause of the loss is the poor implementation. In spite of a huge investment of more than Rs. 1,00,000 crore, the aspect in which we are lacking is perhaps an integration of efforts to meet with well defined and measurable objectives in a mission-made striving towards prosperity.
FACTS AND FINDINGS –
☛ With more than 68 percent of the total population, rural India can emerge as knowledge and economic powerhouse for the nation and the world.
☛ India has the largest livestock population.
☛ India has 52 percent cultivable land as compared to the world average of 11 percent.
☛ Cooperatives like Mother Dairy, AMUL and Lijjat Papad are now national brands that emerged from rural areas.
☛ India is a global leader in the production of many agricultural produce like fruits, castor seeds, mangoes, bananas, milk, spices, cereals, onion etc.
☛ Government of India is continuously increasing investment in agriculture and rural development; presently at around 20% of the total plan outlay – highest in the world.
☛ Kalahandi, which was a symbol of rural starvation 25 years ago, is a place where today where there are 150 rice mills and locals run a cottage industry that manufactures washing powder.
THE DARKER SIDE –
☛ As per a RTI information from the DRDA Sambalpur, the achievement percentage of many schemes of government were very poor, like MNREGA’s achievement is just 3% , IAY is 21% , 13th FCA is just 5%.
☛ As per TOI report, clean drinking water is out of reach for 4.64 crore people in Rural areas in the Country.
☛ Suicide case of farmers are increasing continuously; recently, a Debt ridden farmer Lekhru Bhoi, 63, of Brahmanipali Village, Bargarh has committed suicide due to crop failure.
☛ As per the investigation conducted by India Today group recently, it was found that wheat bags having PDS stamps which ought to feed the empty stomach of poor were found in the Godown of rich flour mill owners.
☛ Urban residents who make up only 28% of the country’s population enjoy access to 66% of India’s available hospital beds, while the remaining 72%, who live in rural areas, have access to just one-third of the beds.
☛ It is shocking to note that still after 68 years of independence; the percentage of no latrine facility is highest in rural India, according to 2011 census.
Agriculture and Rural Development is not at all a loss making proposition.
The main cause of the loss is the poor implementation
Although concentrated efforts have been initiated by the Government of India through several plans and measures to alleviate poverty in rural India, there is much more to be done to bring prosperity in the lives of the people in rural areas. In our view, India will become a global leader only if it develops its 72% Bharat.
WHAT MUST BE ACHIEVED ?
- Every child, for whom the school is set-up must provide quality education with full amenities at the premises, Kyunki….“Padhega India, Tabhi Toh Badhega India”.
- As India recently has been declared as Polio free Nation. Just like that, India must work towards a (farmer) Suicide Free Nation!
- Clean drinking water and sanitation must be available to all the rural Indians, 24 x 7.
- And the most basic requirement of ours i.e. Roti, Kapda and Makan must be available to all the rural residents….
SO, HOW CAN WE REALIZE SUCH MISSION?
It would require out of the box thinking and original ideas. We need to evolve –
- Inclusive Development.
- A Restructuring of existing institutions has to be made for making them more responsive to needs of the users.
- A fusion of technologies for sustainable development i.e. a synergy of multiple disciplines has to be adopted.
- The model of 5Ps must evolve this time to achieve our objective; Here 5Ps stands for – “Public, Private, Panchayat, People, and Participation”…
And the last but not the least, to achieve this, we have to replace the hesitant “Can we do it?” with the assertion “We can do it!”
In conclusion it may be asserted that keeping in view the mammoth population size of 833 million, anyone can guess that how much challenging it is to improve the quality of life across the rural India; obviously it is not possible for the government alone to change the face of rural India over night but it can be evolved with the 5Ps approach as has been discussed above. Today, India is poor because its villages are poor, but India will be rich if the villages will prosper, thus, we can strongly believe that India’s salvation lies in modernizing its agriculture and rural areas.
Rural India is the story of tomorrow’s India……………