Migration from rural to urban has brought in an imbalance in the eco system of our Indian society. This was happening because of the obvious reasons; poor people migrate for better livelihood called as push of rural while rich migrated for a better life style called as pull of urban. There is no one to blame as the urban places were turned out be a land of opportunities where rural India was left out with hardly traditional ways of earning.

Urbanization in the early periods offered a range of opportunities for the people in search of employment, education leading to a better standard of living, which in turn led to rapid urbanization where the scenario changed from people utilizing the resources to people competing for the resources. The standard of living raised leaving certain sections of the urban society to struggle for the bread and butter leaving them with the option of going back to place where they started their life.

Will the competition for resources in the urban areas push back people to rural areas? Or the economic reforms that Government in undertaking will transform the villages promising good living providing employment, education and health? Is the urban infrastructure adequate to meet the growing demand of urbanization? the urge for high standard of living in the long run still lead to migration, are the questions to be debated ?

While the agriculture is seasonal and most of them didn’t used to have constant earnings and is also substantially less than urban wage levels; this had also contributed to the rural-urban migration.

In this scenario it is interesting to note about urban to rural migration. The driving forces for this behavior could be high cost of living, unemployment and over congestion in urban cities or on a positive side it could be because of the development of living standards, employment opportunities in rural.

It is observed that agricultural labour force has declined from 268 to 231 million during 2004 to 2012 when UPA government was ruling. Indian economy grew at an average rate of 8.3% creating opportunities in other industries outside agriculture.3.7 crore farmers quit agriculture during the same period says Crisil.

But the scene had reversed post 2012 where growth rate hovered around 5%.  This again hit the belly of poor leaving them clueless. A report by Crisil said that diminishing employment opportunities in parallel to high inflation will make it unaffordable for migrants to live in urban and force them back to farms. Another study says, by 2019-12 million people in India will be reabsorbed in agriculture because of low employment opportunities created outside agriculture. This reverse migration would have been appreciated if it occurred as part of inclusive growth which is not the scenario.

In Gujarat because of rural development people are returning back to villages. The electrification scheme in Gujarat helped many small and medium scale enterprises to get established. It is the only state in India where 24 hour electricity is being supplied to all its villages.

In some countries, less than 5% of people are involved in agriculture, but they are self-sustained and also able to export to other countries. This indicates the use of technology and equipment in farming. As India is also no more an agriculture dependent country, our farmers should also introduce such effective farming techniques and derive most possible from the available lands.   

The amenities like electricity, water, transportation, school, hospitals are minimum basic requirements for anyone to live in any place without complaints. And some states have made it compulsory for medical students to perform their apprenticeship in villages. This has improved the availability of doctors in villages a bit but not to full extent.

In addition, if there is desire for better lifestyle hotels, multiplexes and shopping malls are needed to be in place. If we think and analyze in how many rural places or villages we have such facilities we can clearly understand the reason for disinterest among people to go back to villages. Even if anyone wants to start some business in rural places he has to think twice about the safety and other issues.

On contrary, daily wages in agricultural lands has risen because of scarcity for agricultural labour. This rise of wages has some impact on containing people to migrate. But, this is not a good sign. Leaving agriculture even other industries were also not able get through in villages because of improper distribution of electricity.

Government is also doing its part by introducing various schemes: MNREGA, which provides 100 days guarantee labour for the villagers in a year. Dwakra, one of the successfully running women empowering scheme where government provides loans at a cheaper interest rates and trains the village women with some self-employment skills like tailoring, candle production, etc. Government is also creating awareness about the importance of building toilets, child education, and availability of health workers for maternity support in villages where proper medical facilities are not in place. Though these schemes and campaigns were helpful in keeping them motivated and earn their living, it is not sufficient for them to grow and lead a life that most of them desire.

Its not that government is not concerned about urban rurals. It implemented a Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) to provide employment opportunities to the urban unemployed by encouraging self development and self employement and by providing wage employement for construction of socially public assets. But the reach of the program is quite questionable as there are no proper evaluation and surveillance programs to guard these initiatives.

The launch of ‘Make in India’ by the government is a boost to Indian economy and helping India to revive in terms of Industrial growth. Urban development ministry has identified around 100 towns/small cities to develop them as ‘Smart cities’. Indian Railways is also preparing roadmaps for major restructuring projects. It is expected that all these initiatives by government will pool in heavy investments from private investors, conglomerates and majorly from outside India. The new dimension is that these projects definitely attract a large pool of labour force and may keep them away from farms . will this happen or the government balance the manpower in achieving the objectives of make-in-india without sacrificing the farmers of our developing nation is the scenario to be wait and see.

On one side of the pole, investments in infrastructure development requiring huge work force and on the other side huge manpower required in agriculture to be balanced by the government so that an inclusive and constructive growth occurs where people feel secure even to move to rural places.

[The article has been co-written by K. Bala Krishna and A. Prem Sharath ]

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