Need For Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide in India
An unfortunate aspect of our development experience has been the growing rural-urban divide. The rural-urban divide in India is so prominent that the income of an average person in the rural parts of India is less than even half of the urban counterpart. The rural-urban divide has led to the generation of two opposites of same nation i.e. India and Bharat. Even though many city dwellers continue to have some links with their rural homes, there is a growing feeling of urban elites getting more alienated and aloof from urgent issues concerning the majority of rural people.India is urban and progressive; Bharat is rural, underdeveloped and backward.
According to the 2011 Census, India has more than 6 lakh villages and around 7000 towns and urban centers. The rural population accounts for 69% and urban population 31%. However, economic policies have primarily focused on urban areas. This has led to the unequal growth of rural areas and resulted in a sense of dissatisfaction in rural population.
The government has compiled the estimates of rural and urban per capita income in terms of Net Value Added (NVA), which is INR 98,435 in urban areas and INR 40,925 in the rural areasInequality in urban India is starker as compared to rural India. During the 68th Round, the richest 10 percent of the rural population had an average MPCE of INR 3459.77, about 6.9 times that of the bottom 10%.However, richest 10 percent of the urban population had an average MPCE of about 10.9 times that of the bottom 10% (See: Table 1). During the 66th Round of the NSS, it was found that the top 10% of the rural population had an average MPCE of INR 2394.66–about 6.4 times that of the bottom 10%. The top 10% of the urban population had an average MPCE of INR 5673.16–about 10.9 times that of the bottom 10%. This clearly shows the yawning gap between the rich and poor in India as a whole.
Economic Survey 2017-18 reveals that about 70% of the population lives in rural areas and about 50% of them is still dependent on agriculture that is not productive enough. The GDP* contribution of agriculture is about 14% while for industries and services sector it is 26% and 60% respectively. The devastating effects of natural calamities such as droughts and floods further lead to lower incomes for people living in rural areas. The Socio-Economic and Caste Census for rural India reveals that in 75% households, the highest monthly income is less than INR 5,000. And more than 80% rural people are without a salaried job. Only urban centers in India have been modernised while adjoining rural areas remain neglected. In past decade, India’s growth has been mainly driven by software, financial and consultancy services which employs English speaking urban youth, but the majority of rural Indian youth are untrained for these kind of jobs.
Rural areas in India is lacking in basic infrastructure, education and health such as infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, life expectancy etc. As the urban centers are gearing up for smart cities and digital governance the rural areas still defecate in open.
The rural-urban economic gap is one of the most important factors that shape overall economic inequality.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, Deendayal Antodya Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana Grameen, Swachh Bharat Mission and Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana were launched in order to bridge the urban-rural divide.However, the ground reality is far from satisfactory.
There is an urgent need to ensure implementation.There is need also for smaller, quieter but sustained efforts to bridge the urban-rural divide in ways which contribute to mutual understanding and a caring attitude.
Prof Mithilesh Kumar Sinha
Department of Economics
Nagaland University, Lumami