Why Do We Neglect our Rural Areas?

Posted on January 12, 2010 in Society

Avnish Gaurav:

A rural area is generally defined as large and isolated areas of a country, often with low population density. It is really interesting to trace how rural areas actually got segregated. Before the advent of INDUSTRIES there was nothing like villages and cities. With industries, there came easy money and so did people from villages. Enormous inflow of people from villages to towns gradually changed the common mindset towards villages. Hitherto rural areas, where the industries were set up, gradually became denser in population and hence were coined the term “URBAN AREAS”.

In the dazzle of easy urban life and modern amenities people forgot that the most primary livelihood requirement came from villages. The case is pretty much the same even today especially in third world countries. Hope now it would be justified to mention that a village in the sense we use it is not just grass or hay. With the passage of time its problems have become radically different from those of its urban counterpart. This is another reason for its neglect. At times it is really hard to digest that the very regions which feed the entire country are the most deprived lot.

India is one of the finest examples of rural area neglect. Figures speak for themselves. As per the 2001 census, 72.2% of the population lives in about 638,000 villages and the remaining 27.8% lives in more than 5,100 towns and over 380 urban agglomerations. The rural parts contribute to only 16% of India’s economy. Ever thought why? Monthly per capita consumption expenditure is below Rs.356.35 for rural areas and Rs.538.60 for urban areas. 1 out of every 4 Indians earns less than $0.40 per day. 75% of the poor are in rural areas. Most of them are daily wagers and landless laborers. National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) published a report in 2007. This report states that 77% of Indians (that means 836 million people), live on less than 20 rupees per day. Most of them live in villages and have no job or social security.

Anyone who is seriously interested in village problems has no claim for superiority of urban over rural conditions. Of course both the conditions are different but when urban conditions commence, they must be met by changed methods because of changed relationship. And in this change of methods lies the difference between the two. The way people relate to one another in rural communities is more personal, emotional, direct and socially supportive. There is a feeling of belonging and fellowship, a feeling of genuine affection for each other.

The dominant value system in the cities is that of individualism. These values flourish in western, industrial, mobile societies where capitalism, material well-being and career identity form the bedrock of personal endeavor. These values are embedded in the economy, schools, media and other institutions. These messages are taught, articulated and advertised. One major contrast between rural and urban living is the type of emotional connections and bonds rural people have with their friends and neighbors. Another is the sense of community and community participation. These fundamental differences in lifestyle have created a gap between rural and urban areas.

The problem is very much vicious in nature. The very fact that villages seem less lucrative and lack the skills to be the agents of profit has kept the corporate sector at a distance. And since there is absence of corporate development in villages, there is no flow able cash. Rural areas have become synonymous to abject poverty. They pose a picture of crying baby without much care and attention given. The problem requires a holistic approach. A judicious use of technology cemented with really pragmatic policies can only help bridge the gorge between village and city. Only with its village shining any agricultural country will shine!

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