[NOTE: This article has been written in three parts. At the end of each part please click on the read more option to read Pg 2 and Pg 3 of the research article.]
In a country with 600 million farmers, of which 40 percent are willing to quit farming for various reasons, mass migration from rural to urban areas has increased rapidly. Between 1991 and 2001, 73 million people have migrated from the rural areas to elsewhere. Mass migration is a phenomenon that is a consequence of various problems in the rural India.
Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, suggested that if people from the rural areas are brought to urban areas, the state could serve them better. But, this is a wrong notion which can lead to the destruction of agriculture on the whole, almost or completely damaging “Bharat”.
There are umpteen number of reasons for this, namely: health, poverty and hunger, water and sanitation, women and children, education and employment, environmental problems, resources, industries and corporates, etc. Now, let us analyze each reason and how and why the proposal cannot turn into action.
In terms of health, India has one of the most neglected health care systems in the world. India’s ranks among top five countries in the world with most number of HIV positive cases, present IMR in India is 52 deaths per 1000 live births and MMR is 230 per 100, 000 live births according to WHO statistics. Though, private and corporate hospitals are blossoming in the cities, villages in rural India still suffer from lack of proper health care services. Setting up public health centres (PHC) and community health centres (CHC) have solved a few problems in the villages. However, lack of proper equipment, operation theatres, paramedics, technicians and doctors are leaving most of these health centres in shams.
Services like 108 have been introduced in villages in case of emergency, but the patient will be driven in a van through roads which almost kill the person before reaching the PHC or the CHC which is mostly located in towns, about an hour drive from any village. Population is another major problem in our country. In the name of family planning, forced sterilization, birth control pills and Intra-uterine devices (IUD) are used. The effects of these can cause hormonal problems in women or sometimes, death.
Once we probe deeper into issues related to health, hunger and poverty stand tall in the list of factors affecting the health of people. India ranks 63rd in poverty Index and its rank in the standard of living compared to that of 186 countries is 126, which is much lower than many other developing countries. More than 320 million people go hungry to bed every day. Of these, many die, many suffer from various diseases. Most of them among the 320 million hungry people are the ones who live on less than Rs. 20 a day.
Like Mr. Devinder Sharma (Food and Trade Policy Analyst) said, “the biggest challenge our country faces with is, the way it has defined the poverty line.” The government calls a family as below poverty line (BPL) family if a person consumes less than 2100 calories a day. And if it is greater than 2100 calories a day, it is an above poverty line (APL) family. According to Sharma, 2100 calories if converted into currency is equal to Rs. 17 per day per person in rural areas and Rs.20 per day in urban areas.
In Everybody Loves A Good Drought, P. Sainath says “poverty line provides conceptual rationalization for looking at the poor as a ‘category’ to be taken care of. It does not take into account important aspects of poverty such as ill health, low educational attainments, geographical isolation, ineffective access to law, powerlessness in civil society and caste and gender based disadvantages.”
Apart from food security, what we also need to look at is water and sanitation problems. Even today, many people in the rural areas walk 10 kilometers or more to get water from the nearest drinking water sources. They are infected with various diseases because of sanitation problems. Depletion in ground water level and water pollution due to prevalence of toxics, sewage and other pollutants is also a trouble. For example: Many districts in Karnataka like Kolar have high fluoride content in them which makes the bones of people brittle, causing joint pains. Apart from this, fluorosis also decreases fertility rate in men and women. The reason for high fluoride content is because of depletion in the ground water level. (read more, click here)