Akhilesh: Why Rural India is Indispensable

We all want to see our nation among the developed lots. Some of us want a step further, to see it as ‘world guru’. We assume that the present growth trajectory is just right. I have a point , being from the pedestrian level. Let’s talk some data first –

n 2001, 71% population lived in rural India. While in 2026 it will become 68%.
– Only 24% rural houses are having roof of concrete, brick or stone.
– Only 26 rural houses have stone. Concrete or pucca floors, rest mud floors
– Only 7% rural houses have WC latrine, 15% pit or other latrine and rest 78% no latrine
– Only 5.7% rural houses have LPG as fuel.
– Only 43% rural houses have electricity as lighting means.
– Only 24% rural houses have tap water supply, 43% hand pump sourced, 22% from well
Our villages have always been a “self sustained” unit of society. If we see a little back, our villages use to have everything what was needed for a sustained society. There were producers of grains, producers of services and producers of other daily needs. There were trades within villages or group of them. From Darzi to Mochi to Kumhar to Priest, all were there in a village as a composite unit. Over the years, this self sustainability has been destroyed. Now we need chemical manure while earlier self produced green/organic manure use to be sufficient. We need diesel, we need electricity, we need pesticides. We are now fully dependent to others. They all cost a fortune. In return what we produce is of lowest importance in current stream of business.
The centre of focus for the business has shifted some where else but not the villages and agrarian economy.
If we see our ancient system, it was the farmer who uses to be at the centre of importance. Cow has been worshipped not because it’s God but because it use to be pivotal factor in our economy. It provides not only milk products but the backbone of agrarian economy, The Bullock. Farmer was the producer and was given due importance. Now, India talks about BSE ups and down. India talks about GDP, India talkes about Foreign Reserve and so on.
Talking about cow is dangerous today in India. I can even be labeled a “name”.
……….We can feel the pulse with this example —
The system makes it an issue, Major hue and cry by the system, in murder of a bar girl (no offence please) .It sounded like all system- media based though, is highly hurt and it finally worked. …Thanks!
Now see the plight of farmer’s suicide in Vidarbha & Punjab. Except few political voices who went to INDIA GATE with candles??????? Who talked hours together in Main TV channels ???? Who came voluntarily to fight their case…?????? Did we mourn and ever realize the plight of those suffering families whose main working head could not repay mere Rs 20,000 ($500 only).
The pain of hunger is the worst thing to happen in someone’s life. They suffered the pain of dark today and darker tomorrow. No, we can never feel how it feels when there is nothing to eat. Impossible for those who take pills to increase their appetite. Do I sound a little crazy or I exaggerate too much? No, I reverberate the pain which comes from the deep beneath because I am living in a society where one person is dieing of over eating and the other without food. I feel ashamed to visit doctor for my over weight problems which I gained ONLY due to excessive /rich diets. Some of my friends feel happy to call our nation Mother India, I do salute them, and I feel ashamed to see one of my brother or sister of the same mother nation dies because of deprived poverty.
My pain doubles when I read the hymns from Rig-Veda which mentions the affluences in our ancient society where same people, same land produces enough grains and milk to keep everyone happy. We, so called modern people created this eccentric world of over opulence at one end and hunger at other end.
I am too little to talk about those greats but I need to ask these question to History. Why did Nehru not follow Gandhi’s social structure??? Gandhi perhaps knew India better then anyone else. He could succeed because he knew the real India. He always portrayed to continue the age old system of self sustained village development.
While saluting Nehru’s efforts, I want to criticize his approach. Perhaps he was much influenced with Soviet Model. Was influenced with Marxist or trying to make his place in history in some other way. His model did not work and as I mentioned above sabotaged our basic structure which even Muslim invaders and British colonials could not do. Many of us may not know the tragedies faced by nation in mid 60. I am told we had to suffer sever food shortages and sorted to even fasting in a day. 20 years, from 1947, is a big period and if we failed to produce enough food for us, Our Chacha Nehru is under question. While in next 20 years, we changed the scenario in food grain production through Green revolution. Perhaps Nehru was quite a busy in International politics!!!
We instantly need, as fire fighting, education, medical, transportation, drinking water, irrigation infrastructure and market access.
But to make comprehensive and sustained impact we need to address bigger issue. I opine for a paradigm shift in our policy making. It evidently sounds that lack of education, corruptions etc are big issues but I feel the biggest issue is prioritization. Unless there is a genuine shift in mindset of the people in general and policy makers in particulars, nothing great is expected in longer run. Anything can be achieved if there is a will power. There may be many ways to do it and they are. There is no dearth of good executors in India. If we can eradicate Polio we can eradicate Poverty too.
First and foremost is improvement in EDUCATION infrastructure – If we really want to be knowledge leader of the world, we need to strengthen our basic education at rural areas. With 64% literacy rates, we can not dream to be so. The problem is not the only education but the quality education.
Can we really afford to ignore anymore ? No !!! not more.
India lives in our villages so does our culture. Our roots lie in those rural places, our ancestral seats. These are the places that preserved our culture over the generations. We need to understand the plight of our forefathers who remain what we are today, and claim it happily, amidst the barbarisms of centuries. I don’t think Khilzees, Tugalaqs or Aurangzebs would have been any different then today’s Taliban’s. How would have they survived them !!!! They paid Zaziya but kept the civilization intact.
We may laugh on a poor villager but we can not afford to let this cultural sanctity die.
Poverty is a major cause for exploitation. Naxalites are not breeding in Punjab or Haryana but in places where poverty is higher. If we did not awake in time, be ready to face naxalites in near future in its worst transformations. School drop outs and education percentage data at villages are horrifying. We are producing the armies of uneducated, least privileged people year by year. We all feel happy to see our kids doing well but what if these armies of deprived people start snatching? This is what is happening in east central India as on date.
I imagine the plight of our brothers & sisters in Manhattan. It obviously gives them pride to see highest Billionaires in Asia are from India. India is roaring but I bet they need to save face to know that India houses highest numbers of BPL (below poverty line) people in world. Our malnutrition data are worst. We all want not to face such situations.
The migration data of 2001 Census indicates that 20.5 million people enumerated in urban areas are migrants from rural areas who moved in within the last 10 years. There are 6.2 million migrants who have similarly migrated from urban areas to rural areas. Thus the net addition to urban population on account of migration is 14.3 million. This works out to be 6.6 per cent of the urban Population in 1991.
In other words, out of the urban growth of 30.3 per cent, 6.6 per cent is accounted for by migration to urban areas. Thus, natural growth of urban population and growth due to formation of new urban settlements and extension of areas of towns during 1991-2001 adds up to 23.7 percent.
It’s like atom bomb but exploding slowly. These migrants are creating havoc at both the ends. They become part of slums at cities and also source of many unsocial activities. At the other end, our villages are left with lesser working hands which affects directly to Agri-production and other societal issues.
Amidst all sorts of obstacles, our people are full of energy. Our villages are full of cultural perseverance. The real taste of our festivals is felt in these remote places.
It’s easy to see a gloomy face at Dalal Street but not at Chaupals in a village.
I must admit that there are efforts from state side and from corporates too. What a wonderful idea from Satyam of “Gram IT”. ITC’s e-chaupal things are also working well. But corporates have their limitations in this regards, I think. They are neither expected nor bound to. They work for the profit to their stakeholders. They are not mandated to welfare of society. It is the Government who is mandated to work as welfare state. If government can auger the Education infrastructure only, many problems can be solved.
There are big projects being funded by Delhi and some even by International agencies. It does improve the situation but more to the middlemen, less to needy. As Rajiv Gandhi once said only 15% goes to real beneficiary. Where are those leaders who admit the truth?
We have demography in our side which can be well utilized for sustained growth. In 2001 median age of India is 26.5 years while in 2026 it will be 31.4 years. The dragger states (UP, Bihar etc) will rather have more young age at 2026. What a perfect workforce!!
Problems are enormous but zeal is always more than problems!!!
High business opportunities are existing in our remote villages; I wonder why big minds are not seeing them. (anyway I’ll try to detail them but later.)
Thankx for the patience !!!

7 thoughts on “Akhilesh: Why Rural India is Indispensable

  1. Akhilesh…
    your’s is one of the most rational observations about rural India in recent past, i have come across.
    PARADIGM shift is the key point in your write up.
    i always used to ask myself-
    What is Development in real sense?
    so what ever you are saying is bang on the point…
    but what are you doing about it?
    wait…no…dont get annoyed… even only thoughts have changed the course of nations.
    so your thoughts are good…
    but there are two ways…
    either be in a position so that people would hear
    or be in a position where you are working like a social worker for the cause…
    thats about betterment of the society…
    on personal front…
    the unrest is because we are not one with the one… (the most cliched line ever said…)
    and Mass evolution is a myth…
    at the end of the day all that matters is What did u do today?
    if this whole issue is your life mission…make the action plan… either in terms of getting across through work or getting across in the form of thoughts…
    if its not a life mission…stop the mind fuck… you are wasting your time…
    life is not an old age bridge club house… lets discuss, yawn and fuck it… make the next move…
    its about what you are doing at this moment…!
    with this kind of clarity about the issue, you can be nelson mandela or baba amte or mother teressa…
    but its always about thoughts and actions… isnt it?
    your thoughts are in place… rest is up to you…
    take care…tata…kedar…

  2. Ok. Self-sustaining villages, not so corrupt political machinery (not so socialist either in its outlook); naxals would surely shoot us, should we not feed ‘em and farmers would make insurance agencies (who’re busy reaping fear marketing) declare themselves bankrupt sooner than later. The rich are getting richer, poop are getting poor. Intellectuals ditto.
    Disintegrated villages – migrating masses – rising aspirations (read crime) – climbing sensex – falling living standards; we need to do something about each one of these. We’re in need of instant action, indeed. And in ‘tatkaal’ mode! The time is now!
    Collaborate, communicate, educate; way to go!

  3. Hi Akhilesh your posts are insightful. Yes there are lots of opportunities in the villages for big businesses. But I’m highly pessimistic about this… the rural people in villages are so innocent (or whatever you can call them) that anybody and anyone can fool them easily.
    This fooling has been done by Govt.Servants, Leaders etc. By dragging the interests of business people we are only opening doors for more ‘business tricks’. Instead, may be, use only Government servants and hold their deeds accountable! this simply means that the entire system should change its view towards rural India, which is too HUGE a task.
    True there is always a bit of chance in every business, but in a place like India, where even having a ration card, or Milk card encourages some kind of corruption, it is much better businessmen are avoided. No I’m not against businessmen…but why take a chance…
    Ofcourse, tax redemptions for those who are responsible (not own!) a certain piece of cultivable lands OR project works for every graduate college student that includes him(and more importantly ‘her’) staying in a village will help understand the problems of these villages!
    May be what I suggested are like building castles in the air….but bringing top-business houses into rural India is as good as breaking the castles of those already vulnerable people!
    Actually “Government Servants” of India have great value. I happen to witness these dumb, always procrastinating people in some rare situations: helping people when there is a natural calamity, accident, or even elections…the way they work is really commendable and to the mark…saving life is an interesting motivation, as when compared to switching a red light on (for a railway signal)…and they are all one, forget difference as they work together…but once it comes to an issue of ‘moving a file’ they stretch out their hands shamelessly!
    The money that has to go the rural people(which I think is enough for those meek people) if safely transferred (through these Govt.servants) will be more than enough to keep our age old agrarian community growing…!

  4. Yaar Akhilesh ,
    Unless Indians vote properly and elect proper people , things wont change .
    No System can be better than the Quality of People who implement them.
    Bharatvarsh(India) accommodated all the oppressed races of the world escaping barbarian slaughters – these included Parsis , Jews , Zorastrians – there was no ‘ Constitution’ or ‘ Secularism ‘ defined at that time.
    Quality of a People wont happen with materialistic and secular values – We have to bring ‘Dharma’ into Politics – until then ,there wont be any hope .
    Lets try to mix ‘ Dharma’ and ‘Politics’ to save India !

  5. It’s ‘THE reality’ Mr.Akhilesh, ‘Bharath’ is way behind ‘rising (urban) India’ we are boasting about in recent discourses of development.
    Rural development models adopted by India have always been flowed. Indian state has adopted line department based delivery structures (Dpt. of Agriculture, irrigation, water supply, education etc.) of development in initial 50 years which was in direct contrast with comprehensive ‘village’ based development model (Gram swaraj) that Mr.M.K.Gandhi talked about. Till Mr.Rajiv Gandhi brought back the focus through empowerment of Panchayat Raj Institutions by 73rd constitutional amendment in early 90’s.But, by then enough damage has already been done. Even now bearcats and politicians at state and national level are not ready to part with power that they are used to in past 50 years. PRI act is punctured, damaged and being made ineffective day-by-day by these forces. So, expecting state to willfully shift the paradigm seems impossible.
    In recent times DFID (UK based funding agency) is funding projects in states like AP, Orissa, and MP on improving ‘Rural Livelihoods’ and the model that seems to be emerging out of these projects seem very close to GRAM SWARAJ. It will be very interesting to observe these experiments and how Indian state will adopt the lessons.
    With participatory development ideology being aggressively promoted by World Bank, DFID,ADB and other funding agencies (for their benefit in the long run) India might be forced to adopt comprehensive rural development model at their terms rather than to have a unique Indian model free from future exploitation.
    Let’s see what future holds and also try to be part of developing an Indian model of development. If anybody is willing to design one, I am all for it and willing to be part of that attempt.

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