Where can the people of the rural India get engaged once the technologies are taking away their jobs? Combines, tractors, engine pumps, flour and rice mills and oil crushers are replacing the old way of agriculture and food preparatory processes that employed the rural people. Perhaps, rice transplantation only remains manual still. Manual labourers and the ladies in homes have all gone idle. Main task is to create jobs in the villages.
As with the onslaught of automatic machines, the operatives in factories required retraining and redeployment, the people in villages will require training to have the contemporary skills in demand. Those blacksmiths or carpenters that were good in building bullock carts and wooden ploughs must become mechanics for repairing the machines and equipment used today in rural areas.
ITIs must take task of imparting the skill of maintenance of motors, pumps, tractors, and even motorcycles to the people who can set up their service shops in villages itself. The present practice of taking all these mechanical and electrical or electronics gadgets and equipment to nearby towns must stop. Electricians, masons, carpenters, hairdressers, tailor, and for that matter, all trained hands are in great demands. Skills in these trades can provide immediate employment. With thrust for modern housing even in rural areas and banks working for an affordable credit system for farmers, construction may grow as major employment sector and these skills will be in demand even in villages.
Manual works in rural areas will remain limited to construction and repair of roads, watersheds, check dams and tanks, and canals, culverts and drainages for irrigation.
In very near future, the modern way of cultivation will get popular. Skills attached with drip irrigation, water harvesting and conservation, purification to ensure safe drinking water supply, prevention of soil erosion, maintaining cold storage facilities, improving farm productivity, planting non-traditional crops and switching over to organic farming will be in demand.
Education, more so specialized ones such one ensuring admissions of the kids in good private schools will be another area that can engage quite a good number of men and women. Some men will also get engaged in health care activities, and as other service providers to help set up agribusiness, to arrange finance and crop insurance, and to organise sanitation, drainage and waste disposal.
Think of a rural hub for every five-ten villages or a population of 10,000-20,000 people with all services available for the rural population starting from a vegetable and fruit market to other consumables, healthcare and education such as yoga and dietary as preventive steps, repair shops for all gadgets and implements in use by the people today, personal development such as adult education, vocational guidance and training, cyber cafes to train in computer for distance learning and telemedicine.
Women folks are still the least exploited potentials to contribute to the earning of the family in rural regions with changing lifestyle. Ways to use their traditionally obtained skills such as stitching, designing, sewing, and their many crude innovations over the years in handicrafts and arts such as one seen in Madhubani prints must be explored. Some entrepreneurs in textile and apparel industry must develop some working models to use their skills and capability to organize for commercial scale. Why can’t these entrepreneurs move their factories or collection centers to rural India to face the competition from other cheaper countries?
Surprisingly, according to Dr Philip Kotler, the reputed marketing Guru, ‘India’s largest sector, the rural sector, will benefit greatly when we are able to make and distribute $100 computers to villages. The farmers will get more information on crop prices and what to plant. Families will get more information on health and educational opportunities. IT will affect a revolution in the rural area.’
However, $100 computers are far away to happen and made available to those who can use it effectively. India must seek its own solution. It must educate and skill 100% of its boys and girls in some or the other trades. Skill in trades will make the people employable in the village or anyone of the today’s global villages. Ultimately only very few people will be needed for menial jobs. And I hope it happens sooner.