Friday, February 20, 2009

Rural Empowerment of India - a dream, a vision

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Human being is evolved to live in small groups, not bigger than 1000 people. Urbanization curbs lot many basic instincts of human beings. Furthermore the institution of village is extremely important in Indian scenarion.  

India and Hinduism have historically been de-centralized entities. The village makes up the fundamental structural and functional unit of Indian civilization even today. It must be known that for 4800 years out of 5000 years of Indian history, India has been among the largest of all economies in world. India lost her prosperity when institution of village was destroyed by British. This needs to be reversed. 

Also, since the population will be scattered around, there won't be many casualties in case of nuclear fall-out. Also, the burden on cities like Mumbai will decrease a bit and economy won't be hit as badly as it will be now.

* The social security of a closely knit community of a village is higher than nuclear families in city.

* Since everybody knows everybody ( or rather most of the people know most of the people), it is rather difficult to do something bad and go unnoticed. The Log Kya Kahenge (LKK) syndrome is higher in rural communities, and hence higher degree of righteous behaviour which is ultimately good for person, community and species.

* The cost of living is very low

* India has a very well developed concept of Panchayat Raj which was practised for centuries making every village an autonomous entity. 

* Curiously, the oppression of untouchables must be less in small villages as compared to urban India in medieval times. Not many cities after Indus Valley civilization showed the vision of having a sewage system for public sanitation in India until british times. Some forts, some big cities like Vijaynagar had sewage system. But 99% of cities in India did not have sewage system and hence the need of maintaining large number of untouchables to do the menial jobs. 

* In villages, people usually defecated in fields, which was beneficial for agriculture as humid and hot climate of India ensures that manure decomposes in not more than 1-1.5 days. Also, since the population was low, it was in synchronisation with nature. No need of maintaining high population of untouchable community and thus, not as high degree of Dalit Oppression as compared to one happening in cities. In fact, if we look at small villages of 100 people to slightly larger villages of 1000 people, the caste system, at least in early medieval ages, might have worked in benefit so that every body was assured job and means of survival.

* The point I want to convey is, rural empowerment will not only increase our economic abilities, but also decrease social tensions - both religious and caste-based.

* And I do not think it is that utopian ideal. All we need to do is supply every village with electricity, good schools until 10+2 level (higher secondary). Before British intrusion, every village had a lake OR set of wells. They had code about usage of water (qualitative and Quantitative). And last thing is Roads. If we provide good road access and uninterrupted power supply to every village, every thing else will follow. Banks and insurance companies will open their offices in villages. Telephone companies will bring internet. A city educated graduate could earn respectably in spite of living in his village, and would not need to live in crowded city. Software programmers from villages can write softwares, thus keeping the cost low and maintaining the edge of India in IT. Same goes with BPO and KPO industry.

* Small scale production plants will arise everywhere. More money to spend, boost to economy.

* Banks can inculcate the e-banking among majority of people in villages, thus making it popular mode of transaction. This will decrease the black money in the system. More black money is tapped, lesser needs GOI has to apply indirect taxes. When indirect taxes are lifted, the prices of commodities will go down.

* Most importantly, village empowerment will make it easier to have and efficiently maintain personal identification number system and Social security system in India.

* Common village biogas plants can make almost every village a self sustaining entity in terms of cooking gas and fertilizers. If we add to this utilization of Solar energy, the sustainability will further increase.

* Of course Urbanization is essential and has some salient features which cannot be denied at all. Just that, not every one wishes to live in crowded human jungle. In rurally empowered India, only those who need to live cities will live in cities. There won't be large scale migrations from villages to cities due to lack of opportunities to earn money in villages. Whoever will choose to leave his village will do so out of choice and not out of compulsion. Thus, the overall happiness in the society will increase.

* Demographically, the communities which most probably live in urban India after rural empowerment are Muslims and Brahmins. Brahmins, especially those in western India, have left villages long ago. Still, I am not sure about brahmin community; they might prove me wrong as well. Muslims of urban India will not move back to villages as easily as they came. of course this is my humble opinion.

There are millions of small things which I dream of.. and nothing utopian about them, very much doable in span of 10 years.

In words of Ghalib -

हजारों ख्वाहिशें ऐसी कि हर ख्वाहिश पे दम निकले
बहुत निकले मेरे अरमाँ, लेकिन फिर भी कम निकले ....

No comments: