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