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Rethinking rural management in India

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Arunika Sharma
Arunika Sharma
Ms. Arunika Sharma is currently working as an Architect in District Kangra of Himachal Pradesh, India.

Urbanisation has been a feature of India for many years, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown, the country experienced reverse migration back to the rural areas from urban areas with consequent implications for rural demand. This reverse migration majorly disrupted the urban economy of the country whereas rural India has suffered far worse. As the pandemic brutalized the country’s economy, a faint glimmer of light arises from rural India. Time and again, the rural economy has boosted the development of the country; and currently, a steady increase in rural demand is providing economic relief and space to recover. 

Therefore, the pandemic has brought an opportunity to rethink our systems and make them more resilient to future shocks.

Thus, the Government’s focus can now finally shift from urban areas to ‘rural areas’ thereby fulfilling the intense need for new growth pathways and rethink about its model of metro city centric economic development while recalibrating upon the dynamics of the rural urban interdependency. It implies that the economic and cultural contributions of the rural settlements should now be merged into inclusive planning and sustainable human development of India. Therefore, in near future there would be a demand for rural ‘development’ planners and related professionals shortly, thus courses in similar field should be included in universities at this stage as it is the resilience of the rural economy that can outlast the pandemic.

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has pushed the Indian economy into a tailspin and with 70% of India’s population having more than 830 million people already living in rural areas suddenly experiencing an upsurge, there is no way that rural areas can accommodate this massive population in agriculture and allied activities. However, a number of initiative have been announced by the Government for strengthening the rural economy such as Garib Kalyan Yojana, raising of MGNREGA allocation which are bound to have a multiplier effect on consumption, employment generation and investment but with a transformed push towards non agricultural activities such as construction, retail, financial services, small manufacturing units along with food processing, dairy, livestock etc. rural India can be renovated into a promising future.

National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Rural Development has also come up with a policy paper on Revival and Reconstruction of Rural Livelihoods amidst Covid-19 where it recommends immediate, short-term and medium to long-term policy measures for revival of rural economy like revitalizing MGNREGA, developing rural non-farm enterprises for self-reliance, fastening the revival of MSMEs, unleashing potential of SHGs, accelerating National Rurban Mission’s progress, strengthening rural infrastructure, strengthening skill training, rural education and primary health education etc.

Therefore, the Covid-19 crisis has encouraged us to a policy future where diversification of the rural economy, improvement of health and education of rural population and creation of new employment opportunities in villages will be center of India’s development focus. It is a huge opportunity to now reorient and rebuild the economic model as a shift in the center of gravity towards rural areas’ increased demand while simultaneously leading it to a potentially more stable and sustained growth. 

Thus, the impact of Covid-19 will have long-term positive implications on the rural economy. 

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Arunika Sharma
Arunika Sharma
Ms. Arunika Sharma is currently working as an Architect in District Kangra of Himachal Pradesh, India.
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