Essay on Rural Development in India:
The soul of India, said Mahatma Gandhi, lived in her villages. This is indeed a truism because 64.61 % of India’s population lives in villages. The people living in Indian villages carry on their age-old professions and trades. More significantly, unlike the westernized urban people, the villages preserve India’s century-old heritage. The virtues emphasized in our holy books are still found in villages. But somehow the cities had managed to manipulate all economic growth and development, leaving the villages to lead a primitive mode of life. Keeping this fact in mind, the planners at the national level reserved a good deal of funds for the development of villages. The Five Year Plans since independence have contributed greatly to development work in villages and adequate funds have been provided for improving a lot of villages.
There is no denying the fact that the fruits of rural development can be seen in a majority of Indian villages. Many villages have now the benefit of metalled link roads, covered drains, primary and even secondary schools, health centers and dispensaries, post offices, and extension counters of banks. There are community halls and panchayat bhavans for celebrating several functions and festivals and also for marriages. Television sets and radio sets have been made available in almost every panchayat. Now the look adalats are reaching the villages to settle petty disputes among some villagers. One has simply to compare an average Indian village with its counterpart in Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka to notice the difference in respect of development.
But a lot remains to be done. Though the Government has been spending large sums of money on rural development, the benefits of development have not reached every village as desired. One can still come across glaring signs of poverty, dirt, and squalor in many villages. Heaps of dung lying here and there, pools of mud and potholes in the unmetalled streets and lanes, uncovered drains and the general girt remind the planners that something has gone wrong somewhere. Though dispensaries and health centers have been provided in villages, they are usually without trained doctors and nurses. Worse still, the money lenders, petty village officials, and big landlords continue to exploit the illiterate and poor villagers. The money sanctioned for development is also misappropriated by the people in power or by those concerned with the implementation of several rural schemes.
What needs to be done immediately and sincerely is an earnest effort to implement the schemes meant for the development of villages. Lest the money meant for this purpose should be misused, there has to be a general vigilance from the people themselves. Every effort must be made to ensure that unscrupulous elements do not take advantage of the poor villagers in respect of loans sanctioned to them for various purp[oses. Secondly, the villagers must not be left at the mercy of petty shopkeepers, middlemen, and money lenders. They must get a fair price for their produce.
More significantly, the development of the villages should be growth and employment oriented. Agro-industries and cottage industries such as poultry, dairy farming, and cash crops should be encouraged. The government should set up industries through the public sector units. Such industries not only provide employment to thousands of skilled and unskilled workers but also help individuals to set up ancillary units. Thus the means of self-employment can be generated. At the same time, the villagers should be educated through the adult education program and the mass media about the various schemes and benefits available to them for their development. If all the rural people are given opportunities for employment, trade, and commerce, and if they are properly informed of the schemes for their welfare, our villages can become beautiful and comfortable places for everyone. When this happens, the dream of Mahatma Gandhi will be realized.