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Developmental Strategy: The village is still relevant

  • IASbaba
  • April 23, 2020
  • 0
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ECONOMY/GOVERNANCE/WELFARE

Topic: General Studies 2,3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment. 
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Developmental Strategy: The village is still relevant

Context: The COVID-19 crisis should inspire society & governments to review past developmental policies particularly regarding the rural areas

How did the developmental discourse change after 1990s?

  • Changed role: Government was considered as facilitator in the free-market economy where private sector was considered as growth engine. As a result, state’s own infrastructure shrank
  • Impact on Public goods: Health and education was opened up for private enterprise which was considered as part of the bigger package of economic reforms.
  • Impact on Public employment: Several States decided to stop giving permanent appointment letters to doctors and teachers in the mid-1990s.
  • Lack of safety nets: Working on short-term contracts, with little security or dignity, became common

How did the changed developmental discourse (after 1990s) impact villages?

  • Villages were no more considered viable as sites of public investment
  • Providing basic amenities such as running water, electricity and jobs to rural people was considered easier if they moved to a city
  • Hence, emigration from rural areas to cities was both justified and encouraged
  • Rural-to-urban emigration was considered natural that happens in the course of economic development
  • The village was considered as having no future other than becoming a copy of the urban and eventually dissolving into it.
  • This resulted in overall shrinking of rural livelihoods 

Consequences on Urban-oriented developmental strategy

  • It led to discriminatory funding in every sphere, including health and education leading to increased inequality between rural & urban areas
  • Reduced quality of life in villages as the availability of qualified doctors and teachers willing to work in villages reduced drastically
  • Growth of vast slums in mega-cities was considered as normal & inevitable
  • Loss of HR in villages: Emigration led to depletion of working-age people in villages. 
  • Agriculture, the main resource of livelihood in villages, was declared as no longer profitable enough to attract the young which led to its stagnation
  • Decline of village handicrafts: It was argued that handicrafts were destined to die as it was believed that craftsmen and women cannot survive without state support
  • Loss of Gram Swaraj: Stuck between state minimalism and commercial entrepreneurship, villages lost the capacity they had for regenerating their economy or intellectual resources.

Impact of Pandemic

  • The new urban architecture denied the rural migrants their visibility. This lead to their issues being overlooked by administration while declaring the lockdown
  • Cities could not offer protection to rural emigrants against such exigencies which lead to their mass migration often by foot
  • It exposed the weakness of City driven developmental model.
  • The crisis has demonstrated the unsustainable socio-economic arrangement of the post-1991 developmental model.

Way Ahead

  • Decentralised developmental strategy
  • Regenerating rural economic capabilities
  • Agriculture to be given prominence in policy making ( Ex: separate Agricultural budget)
  • Skilling of rural people

Conclusion

As the pandemic crisis shows, villages have a right to flourish as habitations with their own distinctive future

Connecting the dots:

  • Gandhian Gram Swarajya Model
  • Philosophy behind 73rd & 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

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