How can rural economy contribute to the socio-economic growth of India
For a long time, the majority of India’s rural society was unable to partake in the country’s development story, which led to a sense of deprivation and dissatisfaction among the rural masses, and can be seen from their migration to the cities over several decades.
The overall development of a country is dependent on the contribution of its rural economy to the socio-economic growth of that nation.
Hence, for the overall economic growth of our country, we must enhance the quality of life and financial well-being of people living in the villages.
In India, two-thirds of the country’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, and one-third of rural India is still below the poverty line. That explains the urgent need to bridge the urban-rural divide.
The efforts to bridge this gap need to begin in right earnest. Even as our government has shown commitment to ensuring that enough facilities are provided to upgrade their standard of living, there is work to be done and done in a consistent manner.
In India, skill development is broadly categorised as educational and vocational training. Skill development courses should be made available to the rural population because only proper education and skill-based training can be the engine of change needed to enhance income and employment opportunities for our rural youth.
The lack of knowledge of job-oriented courses in rural areas has left many youths to remain unemployed. Besides, missing technical expertise, information on modern agriculture, etc., is a cause of concern.
What needs to be done is formulate policy interventions that promote quality education and training that will lead to jobs. Education and skill-based training, along with the provision of credit and marketing assistance, will resolve the issue of unemployment.
Balanced human resource development will help in bringing about improvement in ensuring a quality of life. This balance can be brought in by various means.
Education, public health and sanitation, women empowerment, providing better electricity and irrigation, facilities for agriculture extension, and research besides loans and such credit availability, along with skill development for employment, are a few such steps.
What we see in India is no less than a punishment being meted out to the rural youth. These youth are, at present, being pushed to migrate to the cities and abroad, where they end up adding pressure to cities already bursting at their seams.
There are no real great lives created by these migrations. We need to invest our time and resources in promoting investment and creating infrastructure, which will provide employment opportunities to rural youth.
Traditionally, rural development was centred around forestry and agriculture. But over time, increasing urbanisation has among other factors transformed the nature of rural areas. We need to ensure that attempts are made to further improve the contribution of the rural economy to the socio-economic growth of the country.
Rural economies remain largely associated with primary agricultural production, and therefore, as acknowledged by the International Labour Organisation, rural development is often seen to be outside the labour ministries purview.
But then, the productive transformation of both agriculture and the rural non-farm economy cannot be fully done without their active involvement.
Agricultural jobs are among the least protected, poorly remunerated, most hazardous, and of low status. Improving the quality of these jobs is essential to attract rural youth.
“Changing Structure of Rural Economy of India, Implications for Employment and Growth” — a discussion paper by the NITI Aayog says that the disparity in per capita rural and urban income has remained persistently high, with an average urban worker earning over eight times an average agricultural worker.
India needs to build opportunities for its rural youth to become entrepreneurs who will power growth. These opportunities include creating micro-entrepreneurs and economic clusters in rural India.
And in doing this, the government will need to invest in roads, electricity, irrigation networks, and national cold chain grids in the rural areas.
For India to channelise its rural economy’s contribution to the socio-economic growth of the nation, it has to also address the use of welfare funding.
Many experts concur that welfare funding is only a symptomatic cure. If we are to empower our rural youth and generate employment opportunities within the villages with skills and economic opportunities, that will be a true game-changer and flatten the roadblocks that act as an impediment to sustainable rural development.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)