I don’t know how many of metromaniacs know that the changes in rural India are coming pretty faster than what they would have even dreamt of. The life style of the rural people is changing too. There are hardly any cattle now in households. Both, the bullock-drawn carts and ploughs are gone forever. So no one is required to look after the cattle. In my childhood, we, as even a small landlord, used to keep some 6 persons as the whole timers for the whole year. Harvester Combines have taken over even the highly manual harvesting- reaping and thrashing that was a time taking operation too. Houses are today bricked ones, so the ritual of annual repair work before the rainy season requiring the manual labour has gone.
My cousin who looks after the farming in our village says, the farmer today is hardly required to be engaged for a maximum of 30 days. There are some significant social changes too. Some persons, generally women, used to be engaged for drawing water from the wells for household requirements. Presence of a hand-operated tube well in each house has done away with that work. Women of the village hardly anymore work for even the paddy transplantation in the fields. The operation is now a totally male affair with expert gangs coming from other region of the state to do that work on contract. They do it better and fast too. All these changes have meant loss of jobs for the people of the village. Naturally quite a large number of them are immigrating to towns and metros or to other states with all the associated problems for the urban development. And the population in the villages consists more of the aged ones.
If the rural India wish to keep its children engaged in the village itself and the rural economy flourishing, a new approach is necessary. Some out of the landless households are leasing the land of those landowners who don’t farm themselves. But others are still in need of useful and paying engagements. Villagers own today a number of mechanical, electrical and electronics appliances- tractors, motorcycles, diesel pumps, harvesters, oil, rice and flourmills, music systems, cookers, cooking gas stoves, electrified households with solar plates or grid electricity and colour TVs. Presently, the villagers generally go to the town for the repair. One can see hordes of these repair shops while entering or exiting from the road going through the towns. Young persons from the village don’t get themselves properly skilled in repair of these appliances. If they get trained, they can take up this work as profession, become self-employed and remain in their own village. Some more may be required to maintain solar plates and household electrical fittings and appliances with rural electrification spreading in rural India.
Some may also go for some new work. One such work is to produce compost that can replace costly fertilizers effectively, if marketed well. The task can engage some men on regular basis, if understood properly. Unfortunately, there is hardly any move for that, even though many of the farmers know by now that the chemical fertilizers are spoiling the soil of the agriculture fields and making it gradually less fertile.
Can’t the government and the manufacturing company such as M&M or Escorts for tractors, Bajaj Auto and Hero Honda for motorcycles, open these skill- building facilities in rural India? Will it not be helpful in growth of the manufacturers’ business further? Can’t some affluent or educated among these rural young men become the dealers of these companies and its spare parts?
And then how can the rural economy afford to keep the women folks without any productive work? The women are talented and knowledgeable in many skills such as stitching, different types of rural art and craft, rural food processing, dressmaking, and nursing from their childhood. A formal training enhancing the talent can make them employable? We require these skill-building centres in every village for every child that can’t pursue higher education. This is an absolute necessity for building a strong economy. Once some one even without much formal education gets trained as mason, carpenter, or electrician properly, his employability improves. He can earn in his own village or outside the state or even in countries abroad where many are immigrating to build a better career.
No amount of NREG (National Rural Employment Guarantee) plans can improve the rural economy on long term. Some sort of manufacturing bases are essential in rural areas to engage more and more local people that are entering workforce. With expansion of rural electrification, manufacturing can take base in rural India as it did in China. I still remember a story from China’s rural area where a teacher took a lead in starting a shock manufacturing facility and in very short period, the village was a cluster for shock manufacturing supplying millions of shocks to the domestic market as well as for the export. India will have to emulate the Chinese model of manufacturing. Every household will have to be a manufacturing unit however small it may be. That can only provide employment and bring real long-term prosperity in rural India.
Some great News
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