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From Bharat To India: Understanding Rural-Urban Migration [RESEARCH]

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Women and children have a crucial role to play. According to a report by International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) India ranks 11th in top 20 “hot spot” countries for child marriages in the world, with 50 percent of girls less than 18 being married. Human trafficking and abduction top the list of crimes committed in the country. According to Child Rights Trust, 50 percent of women between 15 to 49 years of age suffer from anemia in India. According to WHO report, 43.5 percent of children under five are underweight.

Even today, female foeticide and infanticide are prevalent in many parts of India. Girls are sold to agents from different states in the guise of marriage and prostituted. Schemes like the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) offer services to mother and child in every village through anganwadis. Child labour is still practiced on a large scale in our country. Most of the rag pickers are women and children. For example: In an article ‘Invisible environmentalists’, Kalpana Sharma states that “women and children do the more hazardous jobs of sorting and separating the waste, the men deal with the dry garbage.

As a result, it is the women who are exposed to hazardous waste – none of them wear any kind of protective gear”. She calls them “silent environmentalists” because they work during the night when the whole country sleeps and are landless, homeless and sleep on the roads. She also mentions an example of how a 15-year-old rag picker and a woman were buried under a heap of garbage dump in Jawaharnagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. This also brings out a point about gender sensitization in our country. Crimes against women and children are on the rise every second.

While this is the status of women and children, education is another aspect one has to concentrate on. The Right To Education (RTE) act that came into force last year made it compulsory for every child to get free education between 6 to 14 years of age. The government sees this as an achievement of its own. However, what matters is the quality of education. Government schools in villages do not have enough teachers. In some schools, one teacher teaches many subjects irrespective of whether she knows the subject or not.

The poor do not have enough money to send their kids to the school. For example: The kids in the border areas of the state face problems with the language because the schools in Karnataka-AP border areas like Bagepalli are Kannada medium ones, but the local language is Telugu. On the other hand, the schools in the cities demand high fee, and therefore, impart better quality of education. Unemployment is another section one has to explore about. Even the ones who are educated do not have jobs.

Forty million people in India are unemployed. India has the largest share of illiterate women in the world. The literacy rate (defined as those age 15 and over that can read and write) is 65.5% for males and 37.7% for females. (Source)

Even environment is one of the most significant areas one has to talk about when it comes to rural to urban migration. In the name of environmental sustainability, entire rural set-up is being destroyed. This can be further categorized into two sections: Farming and land grabbing.

Farming has been major occupation in India. But, in the past decade, 200,000 farmers’ deaths were reported. With this came food crisis, food inflation and “agrarian crisis” as if they are new schemes introduced in the country. A recent report by P. Sainath on farmer suicides stated that the past six years recorded the worst number i.e. 17,036 farmer suicides. Crop failure due to the entry of GM crops, less rainfall or floods or drought, infertile soil, soil erosion and many other aspects have take a toll on the lives of people in rural areas. (click here, read more)

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  1. Anirudh Nimmagadda

    Your capacity for research astounds me: the bevy of facts and figures you quoted in this article could only have been gathered through some serious effort.

    I am, however, less than impressed with the reasoning employed to reach the conclusion that our Prime Minister is ‘wrong’, and that rural-urban migration is not ‘ideal’ (few things ever are…). Having read the whole of your article multiple times, I am led to believe that you are arguing against rural-urban migration, since you think the benefits of living in urban areas may not trickle down to the ‘emigrants’. You also state that this migration will result in the ‘destruction’ of agriculture in India (how?), which, in my opinion, is hyperbole.
    If I am mistaken in my presumptions, I apologize, and the rest of my comment may be disregarded.

    Now, you have mentioned health (and affiliated factors such as hunger), poverty, illiteracy, ineffectiveness of law, etc. as contributing to the reaching of your conclusion, but, it is not at all clear from your article why the living standards of rural folk will be degraded on moving to cities.
    I would like to comment on each of these factors, in turn:
    1. Health
    You do an excellent job apprising us of the pathetic healthcare situation in rural areas, but tell us that the inhabitants of these areas will be better off sticking to village life, since they will be unable to afford the healthcare services provided in cities.
    To me, this seems a problem that is not very difficult to solve. The reduction in rural population should allow the government to divert some of the funds currently being spent on rural healthcare to sponsor medical services for the urban poor. A similar argument could be put forth for related issues such as food and water, which are more in more plentiful supply in cities than in villages. In fact, this might actually be on the mind of our PM, who is also a perspicacious economist.
    2. Poverty
    Your statements about the irregularity of income from agrarian production units, and how the poor migrate hoping to find more rewarding work, militate against your argument. While the ‘emigrants’ may not immediately be able to find a job, let us not forget that there is no income security in rural areas either.
    3. Illiteracy
    You write that while the quality of education in government schools leaves a lot to be desired, private schools are expensive, and cannot be afforded by the poor. However, it does not follow from this that poor families will be better off staying in villages. Hoping that government schools as they are will attract better teachers is, in my opinion, wishful thinking. Children of poor families would likely benefit more from government sponsored education at private schools in urban areas, since an average, but well-educated child is more employable than an extremely bright, but poorly educated one.
    4. Ineffectiveness of law
    It is true that the various crimes you have mentioned (infanticide, female foeticide, human trafficking, and abduction) are prevalent in India. But, while human trafficking and abduction are crimes arising from greed for money, or depravity, the others are crimes arising from a lack of awareness of the irrationality of certain traditions, and can be eradicated by educating those that adhere to them. This is more likely to happen in the dynamic environment that cities provide, than in idyllic villages. Further, perpetrators of such crimes are more likely to be brought to book in cities than anywhere else.

    In conclusion, I would reiterate that rural-urban migration is actually desirable. India’s rural population is ridiculously and unnecessarily large, and there are too few opportunities for gainful employment in rural India. While there are undeniably a few horror stories of unfortunate men and women who have been through trying times upon migrating to cities, these are more the exception rather than the rule. Over time, rural-urban migration will result in increased standards of living for all who choose to make the leap.

  2. Vijay Khadakbhavi

    very good

  3. nhat

    where are your sources ?

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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