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The ‘village’ in digital economy

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The Indian village society especially in post-Green Revolution period has shown a massive rural out-migration due to the continuous pauperization and depeasantization among the small and marginal farmers. Urban and industrial sectors are the destination point of these rural pauperized and depeasantized farming households for their alternative economic livelihood. The demographic character also changed in rural India where the major portion of productive age group people are continuously absent in rural areas which made less burden for the government in terms of creating more employment opportunities in the villages. The lockdown to save the human lives from Corona virus has made a tremendous psychological impact on the rural migrants in urban areas where there is so much anxiety among these migrants to return their home at any cost due to the ‘ontological insecurity’ that the migrants feels in terms of food insecurity, cashless, and unavailability of work in urban areas.

This ‘felt risk’ among the migrants during the lockdown period forcing them to live in a psychological condition of ‘perceived risk’ which will have a major negative impact on the rural out-migration in the future. This will create two major challenges for the state and industrial economy. Firstly, the industries will suffer from the labor crisis and the small scale industries will be the worst sufferer. Secondly, the reverse migration with a severe psychological fear, anxiety and the experience of painful journey during the lockdown period will make a sharp decline of rural out-migration. This will reshape the rural demographic profile where the presence of a large number of productive age groups will become a serious challenge for the state to create more employment and alternative livelihood opportunities in the rural areas.  

Further, the Social World in post-COVID-19 period is going to enter into a society to which Alan Kilby called ‘digimodernism’ where the digital culture will be a dominating force in the sphere of all kinds of economic activities.  In this context, the ‘rurality’ in the post-COVID-19 era is also going to take a new shape under the culture of digital economy through e-commerce and e-trading. The recent agricultural reforms made by the states like M.P., U.P., and Gujarat towards the private market based e-trading system in the rural agricultural sector is clearly indicating the expansion of digital economy into the village life. In this sense, the expansion of e-capitalism will create a new demand for the digital skill and technological know-how in both farming and non-farming sectors in rural society. In a vast unequal agrarian social system like India, the need for skilled digital knowledge will create further inequality and depeasantisation among the low resources farmers, for that, the state should intervene with a proper policy measure to empower the small and marginal farmers to adapt with global digital knowledge system. The promise made by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a ‘self-reliance India’ can become success by the proper skills and training of rural population with global digital economic culture.

Thus, now the state should give more focus on the special package for the development of digital infrastructure, rural entrepreneurship and skill-based empowerment of productive age group population through which the rurality can be converted into a successful active local actor in the global economy. The Panchayati Raj Institutions can be made as an active micro level government agency in mediating between global and local market. The nature of the employment creation through MNREGA has to be linked with the rural infrastructure development to grape the global market opportunities. In this background, the ‘village’ should now be a centre of the state development policy discourse where the ideology of ‘rural development’ has to shift towards the more empowerment oriented policies and programmes.

Brief Bio-data

Working as Assistant Professor in Sociology at Dr. Harisingh Gour Central University, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh.

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