When we talk about Rural India, we tend to visualise the agriculture, and the major part of the population living there. Although the truism that India resides in its villages may still hold true, there is an increasing difference between how the villages are perceived, and the ground reality. The most important change that has been observed in last three decades is that there has been a sharp decline of interest towards agriculture. The share of income based on farming which was 74% in 1970s, has been plummeted to 30% in 2010.
Non-farm related livelihoods have seen a substantial growth, but the quality and pace of this change depends on the villages. The term “non-farm” includes all non-crop agricultural activities, manufacturing activities, electricity, gas, construction, mining and quarrying, transportation and services in rural areas. Over 42% of rural households draw their income from non-farm sources. Even if these activities and self-employment are of low income, they are contributing more to the household, and moving out of poverty.
Greater integration with the outside world has also been observed, thanks to easier modes of transportation, mobile phones, and internet. The integration is not just limited to product markets but also to labour markets, increasingly through commuting. With improved connectivity, both physical as well as through mobile phones, this integration has brought new dimensions of labour engagement and faster transmission of wage trends between the village and its periphery.
The impact of these economic changes varies for women across different states. While there are only few women in the workforce in North Indian rural areas, there is an increase in feminization of agricultural labour in some states. The growth in education and health sectors show a slow improvement. There is deterioration of public services too, in some cases. Due to this, people have to rely on private services, even these are of questionable quality.
There are many social champions and NGOs who are tirelessly working towards making villages better, and the innovations are providing villagers with good jobs. An amazing rural champion who won Ramon Magsaysay Award for his exceptional work to upbring the rural India, is coming to TEDxHyderabad as a Speaker. He is none other than Mr. ANSHU GUPTA of Goonj.
To listen to him and many other phenomenal speakers, come to TEDxHyderabad on September 24th. You can register now at www.tedxhyderabad.com .