From colonial rule, India’s economy, in absolute terms, has expanded to Rs 57 lakh crore from mere Rs 2.7 lakh crore and the nation’s foreign exchange reserves have crossed $300 billion and major contributors of this tremendous growth were India’s food grain producers, evident with the fact that the production increased to nearly 252.23 million tonnes in 2015-16 and expected to cross 270 million tonnes in the current year.
However, the government, after Independence failed to care the rural economy which was main focal point during the entire Mughal period and even during the colonial period. In the last 60 years of Independence, the government tried to improve the speed of wheel on roads but totally ignored the flow of water for irrigation and overall development of rural areas at the cost of wastage of water flowing into the sea and lack of conservation at cities and not utilisation sea water with technologies by those cities which are located on the bank of sea, where thousands of crores worth properties developed by the affluent society, that was capable of to enjoy the fruits of sea water conversion for their routine requirements of habitation in those areas.
It is unfortunate that the policy makers ignored this fact and diverted the rural water to meet the requirements of urban habitation nearby seas, dominated by well-to-do people, in spite of this fact and awareness that these societies used for their drinking requirement only the mineral packaged water.
The Approach towards Rural Economy
The above argument is just to assess the approach of the governments, which went on ignoring the basic and urgent needs of an agrarian economy and continued to misuse the life serving resources of the economy. The governments and policy makers kept on ignoring the usage of various infrastructure and facilities of rural areas-small towns where the government agencies never tried to develop multiple facilities at their own properties – running structure like Bus Depot, Offices and old government buildings which could have easily developed in multi-facility units like multi-storied commercial complexes. This would have facilitated job generation for rural product marketing and commodity exchange and would certainly have reduced the exploitation in the hands of the commissioned based brokers and unorganised private Mandis , the practice which has been instrumental in ruining the growing potential the agrarian economy to outperform.
But the sleeping economists and policy makers continue with their plan to migrate all the money to city which should immediately be stopped and used widely for the development of infrastructure in rural areas for creating a strong market structure for them.
Consolidation is the key
The government needs to consolidate very small habitation in form of villages within a circle of three kilo meter to convert/transfer them into a single village at the most convenient place and create infrastructure for the entire area and that will save crores of rupees of the government, used for the schemes for creating multiple utilities for each small village separately. This will not only save the expenditure of the government but create a better habitation atmosphere for rural people and make several better infrastructure for their utilities which can push forward local agrarian economy. And the land vacated by the cluster villages should be utililised common commercial purposes and creation of better social infrastructure like schools, health centres. If the government takes this seriously, without reducing a single inch of food producing land, it can create massive physical and social infrastructure for people.
The Crowd pulling Cities
It is surprising to note that the government never thought of reducing the pressure of city’s civil infrastructure and instead of finding a permanent solution by shifting crowd calling city infrastructure to rural areas surrounding that particular city. For example, if we shift huge administrative buildings, to say, to nearby rural areas, well connected through various mode of rail and road transports and use the existing facilities for other important purposes of the nation, we would certainly see a great transformation in strengthening the rural economy of India. This would push second generation agrarian reforms. This model can be replicated for all major cities. But the approach of the policy makers is to develop multi-layer transport system on the same road to pull crowd into the cities from rural areas. Even during the Mughal period and colonial era, the ruling dispensations always created important infrastructure out of the city and tried to reduce crowd in the city. Like Shahjahanabad was developed in the outskirts of the city by the Mughals and the Britishers, instead of making Shahjahanbad their seat of power, preferred Raiseena Hills as their seat of power. Mumbai, Allahabad and other old cities of the country, during those period, witnessed similar move where rural areas were given more importance.
Banking: Neglect of Rural Economy
Neglect of rural economy is also evident with the fact that rural banks of the country kept on shifting huge money collected from villagers to the cities and deprived them the benefits of their own created economy. And most unfortunate fact is that northern, eastern and western regions shifted more 50 percent of deposits to other regions and these three regions are victimised by the policy makers which in turned pushed them in backwardness and number of suicides and large migration form these regions can be attributed to this fact.
The amount of migrated rural funds to cities clearly reflect how the food grain producer were not being suitably awarded for their work and contribution to nation and their money was bluntly shifted to another regions especially for the sake of cities. Shifting of resources does augur well for the rural economy. Rural people need better education and health facilities.
The government needs a bold answer to the people who voted for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party recently and it would be better if promises made by the Prime Minister are considered seriously. So second agrarian reforms should begin now under the leadership of a dynamic Prime Minister who does not hesitate in taking bold decisions. It is not the word- ‘City’ but language of rural marketing would help to realise the dreams of Gandhi , Lohiya and the Prime Minister. Foundation of strong civilisation cannot be laid without making people of rural India happy, healthy and wealthy.
(Author is head of Sanjay Sabran & Company. He is a financial expert and writes on developmental issues. Views expressed are personal)