Rajesh Patra: I would like to start with the definition of village. The Census of India regards most settlements of fewer than 5,000 as a village. Scattered throughout India are more than 500,000 villages. These settlements range from tiny hamlets of thatched huts to larger settlements of tile-roofed stone and brick houses. Most villages are small; nearly 80 percent have fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, according to the 1991 census. It is in these villages that India's most basic business--agriculture--takes place, which accomplishes the challenging task of feeding themselves and the nation. Here, too, flourish many of India's most valued cultural forms. And to add on 80% of Indian population live in the villages.
Dhiraj: Villages are definitely the back-bone of our country. From our independence we are very much dependent on agriculture. It is our major strength; agriculture still constitutes 21% of our GDP. But side by side we should not forget that 52% of our GDP is just constituted by services sector and remaining 27% by industry. Villages are a boon to us, they produce the requisite amount of food for the country that is 19% of world food grains and our population is also 19% of world.
Lavya: I believe that Indian villages are our weakness but definitely they can undoubted become our strength. Causes are Infant mortality rate, mother mortality rate. Education, if compared to developed countries, the loss of agricultural products is very high in India. If all people get a fair chance to pursue education, medication they will definitely be our strength. Infact most number of polio patients belong to villages which we surely need to take action and we taking it.
Hrisheekesh: As we are aware, Indian villages account for about 70% of our population and so they must play a part in any significant development that India wishes to achieve. Yes, as Rajesh pointed out, Indian villages are the source of the cultural diversity of India but because of their large number and remote location they are a challenge for achieving sustained development.
Karan Shah: Of course, India is a country of villages so it is main strength of India no doubt about this. There are 70000 villages in India so far. The all milk products and agricultural is comes through villages. From villages India get many foreign revenues like through exporting wheat, sugar, rice, onion etc for prospective of gaining foreign currency villages are main part.
Anoop Singh: I would like to contradict Lavya - villages are not our weakness, but our biggest strength – it’s the improper utilization that makes us feel so. There was a time when India was called a Golden Bird, and it was all due to the villages!!!
Rani Mehta: India is a country of villages. To prosper and to develop India, one has to develop its villages; if we see our growth then it’s mostly concentrated in service sector and manufacturing sector which are located in urban areas or near urban areas. India's 60% population depends on agriculture but if you see only 23% of GDP is contributed by agriculture and again agriculture is growing at very negligible rate compared to service and manufacturing sector.
Rajesh Patra: Usually villages are humming with activity. The work ethic is strong, with little time out for relaxation, except for numerous divinely sanctioned festivals and rite-of-passage celebrations. Residents are quick to judge each other, and improper work or social habits receive strong criticism. Villagers feel a sense of village pride and honor, and the reputation of a village depends upon the behavior of its entire resident. The problem is not with the villages, rather with the governance. Because of lack of government machineries, the village economy is suffering
Lavya: I would like to bring a fact that Cuba is smaller than Maharashtra but yields more sugar than Maharashtra, and as we all know the fact that Maharashtra is highest producer of sugar in India.
Poornima: The majority of India lives in villages. India as a nation has spurred an unprecedented economic growth primarily because of urban activities. But if this boom is any indication towards a developed India, then is bound to traverse the roads of Indian villages. Villages in India will be growing up to one of our strengths and on par with urban India, if only India wants a sustained growth.
Dhiraj: So it should be sufficient, but still we import food grains, our basmati rice and some high quality food grains are unaffordable for the people below poverty lines. Still 1/3rd of our population is not able to get even 1 meal a day and 26% of our population is below poverty line. We should concentrate more towards service sector now; because that is giving us good returns now and will pay us in long run too. As it still constitute our 52% GDP growth
Shiva Gopalan: Lack of machinery and equipments is one main area of concern. Latest farming techniques are a must to enhance the yield. Villages are our country's backbone as far as economy is concerned. The quantity of food items produced is a clear indication of the health of that economy.
Anoop Singh: Even today, there are villages in Punjab, where we find one of the richest farmers, it’s because of their proper utilization. The reason of the failure of villages is the people of Villages getting attracted to the modern cities and taking other jobs rather than being a farmer.
Rajesh Patra: Exactly Rani. Here I would like to bring into the lack of technology. China today has less cultivated land than India, but twice the agric production.
Hrisheekesh: Before we look at villages as strengths or weaknesses, we must focus on how the villages have developed about and their characteristics. So the prominent feature of most Indian villages is that they are more or less self-sufficient and being located in remote areas, the effects of the developments of Industrial India have not yet trickled down. Moreover, there are a lot of indigenous technologies that villagers use to sustain themselves. Indian villages are predominantly agrarian and so the income of the villagers largely depends on the monsoons which are quite uncertain in nature.
Lavya: I agree with the fact that they have a huge part of Indian economy but I refer in the fact that the efficiency of production and medication and education is brutally lacking in Indian villages and on other hand developed nations have efficient production. My opinion is that though we have high production of food and dairy goods, but it can increase but an exponential level. That is why our villages are weakness for the time being.
Rani Mehta: Rajesh yes, to keep the growth the growth steady at this level or to increase it, we need to increase growth rate of agriculture, which will be feasible by latest farming technology.
Dhiraj: India is growing at a fast pace like his Asian peers but our Asian peers has a different growth model that is export products and manufacturing cheap goods, but we in india have more concentration on services and domestic market only, we have a all together different growth model and to cater to this growth model we should now concentrate on two things
1. Services industry should be given more preference.
2. Regarding agriculture, we should use more hi-tech machinery, more skilled labor and proper ways to refine this arena so that it can again contribute to become strength of India.
Karan Shah: If India develop many irrigation techniques like Israel drip irrigation help India to prove like china also if government think to provide primarily need to farmers then villages also better take part in progress.
Rajesh Patra: Gandhi ji was a lawyer by profession. But the economic model that he offered still has the potential to address rural woes. Gandhi ji wanted people to lead a healthy, simple and contented life close to nature and preserve their traditional economic activities. The world is beginning to understand the importance of living close to nature. Global warming, depleting ozone layer, extinction of millions of plants and animal species, and ravages followed by the tsunami, the super cyclone, landslips, floods and droughts in different parts of the world have led people to seek comfort in things small and beautiful.
Poornima: Its because of the fact village should be perceived as a strength that business tycoons in India are entering the village markets. For instance, reliance has entered into retail management in the villages of Gujarat.
Shiva Gopalan: Education system must also concentrate on research aspects for agriculture. Improvisation is a must in order to compete with the rise in population.
Hrisheekesh: We have seen earlier that the green revolution was able to significantly enhance our agricultural productivity through better irrigation facilities, use of good fertilizers and improved seeds.
Anoop Singh: Today, majority of the rural population have just one ambition - to migrate to a developed city and take any job other than being a farmer. I agree that lack of modern machineries is one of the reasons for failure of villages, but the main reason is the diversion of interest of the farmers from their farms to the cities.
Rajesh Patra: Poornima. Exactly, even ITC's e-choupal is an add on.
Hrisheekesh: Well yes, as Anoop pointed out, the migration of villagers to urban areas is one concern we must address, but before that we must focus on how the liabilities of the Indian villages can be minimized and how they can be made the drivers of sustained development
Karan Shah: If we think currently the IT sector is growing but after some time the era of villages will come because if villages are taken care of, the need of whole country is also satisfied by villages. The surrounding of villages also help to enrich our health.
Shiva Gopalan: Villages are our strength as far as the food production is concerned. Without villages, farmlands, cattle, we can never survive. Villages are our weakness in the case of amenities provided to them by the government. The utilization of technology is to the least in villages.
Rani Mehta: If we see our many villages lack basic facilities like electricity, drinking water, telephone, roads, good schools and colleges and to have all this people are running towards urban area, which is just increasing urban population and making city more congested.
Rajesh Patra: Shiva. Because of lack of employment many people are migrating to cities leading to slums and other social & infrastructure problems. The cure for the ailing cities lies in the villages. So by addressing the issue of villages we can solve many problems at the same time.
Lavya: if we incorporate new researched quality management theories we will definitely emerge as A New Efficient Brand India.
Dhiraj: We Indians have our roots in agriculture. Once our Prime Minister Mr. Lal bahadur Shastri has given a famous saying that " JAI JAWAN JAI KISAAN' to strengthen this saying we have to make our villages a boon and agriculture is one thing that can add values to it.
Rani Mehta: If we are to make villages our strength then first we need to work on the basic infrastructure facility in villages.
Poornima: To begin with, India saw a boom in IT and IT-ES sectors. It is getting extended to the retail management sector. In future, it is expected that rural management will be on a boom.
Rajesh Patra: Karan. Gram IT is a project aimed at setting up 50-seat BPO operations in villages that Mr. Byrraju of Satyam has adopted. Three are underway, and, eventually, the Gram IT people want to have operations running in all 160 villages that Byrraju has adopted. Right now, the young villagers are doing back office work for the foundation, Satyam, and the government of Andhra Pradesh.
The idea here is to provide new job opportunities in the villages, and to help bridge the gap between India's relatively few middle class people and its legions of poor rural people.
Hrisheekesh: Yes, as Rani pointed out, infrastructure is one area which needs a boost in order to bring forth development in villages, but i would like to point out that of the 33 lakh km (approx) length of roads in India about 26 lakh km are rural roads. So the idea that infrastructure is lacking is slightly misplaced.
Shiva Gopalan: Well said Rani. Basic infrastructure is a must for all the villages. Lights, telephone, proper drainage, water facilities to each house. Singapore, for instance does not have any farmland on its own. its ability to sustain food movement is amazing. We have to market our food products and ultimately our village names in the global world.
Lavya: As we all know that India is highly acclaimed for it services but not for manufacturing products but if we solve the social and economical issues of rural India then definitely we can emerge strongly.
Rajesh Patra: Hrisheekesh. I would like to state few points for the development of the villages, for the larger interest of the country. 1. The state should set a time frame to provide quality infrastructure in the villages; mainly road, drinking water, hospital, schools and a sound communication and transportation network.
2. Further by encouraging agriculture and cottage industries with marketing support can generate employment and prevent people from migrating to cities. By this we can keep the cities clean.
3. More than infrastructure the villages need a people-friendly administration, which will help economic activities thrive. This will make educated people village-centric and check the problem of absentee officials.
4. A transparent marketing network for village products will foster economic growth. The state must assure villagers their share of profit from the global market for their products.
Poornima: Now, how do we go about developing rural India? It is by improvising on our agricultural sector and replacing a number of unorganized sectors found in villages into organized sectors.
Anoop Singh: Many farmers from Punjab have proved that, if one is concentrated and interested in only farming, he can still make profits. Now, the point is- why do people want to migrate to cities - its because they do not earn much from their land, than they can from the cities, the major reason for this is the illiteracy of the rural population, the middlemen taking huge chunks of profits - leaving the farmers with no other option than to sell his land and move to the cities. The government has recently took notice of this and institutions like NABARD are taking care of this - although it’s a bit late.
Hrisheekesh: Apart from infrastructure, the other major concerns are illiteracy and poverty. But these two issues are related; to remove poverty we need to get illiteracy out of the way and the provision of education must result in the availability of gainful employment for rural youth, because in the absence of employment, the villagers would not be motivated to send their children to schools
Lavya: Mostly even roads are not even connected to the cities, hence even people residing in villages do complain for connectives secondly even the developed states like Gujarat and Punjab are unable to provide electricity in the villages
Rajesh Patra: Hrisheekesh. You are correct to some extent. Yes infrastructure is there. But the communication mode is missing. Less no. of busses are there to connect villages. In a bus of 50 capacities 100 or more people travel. It’s just a pathetic situation.
Shiva Gopalan: Thats right lavya. This hampers the communication between the urban life and city life and ultimately hampers the development. Agricultural management studies must be improvised and made a part of the curriculum.
Anoop Singh: I think the whole responsibility is of the government - to educate the rural public regarding the advantages of farming, various modernized techniques, and also to ensure that they get the chunk of profit they deserve.
Lavya: Example Vidharb. Farmers are even pushed to commit suicide. It’s a clear indication that our rural sector needs support hence presently they are weakness for india.
Karan Shah: Main need to "roti" comes from villages , also divert our cattle asset in india helpful of dairy products through this we can also help to raise infrastructure and other lack of conveniences.
Rani Mehta: Another thing that we need to concentrate on is the literacy level. Current level of literacy in India is around 65% but in rural areas the literacy level is around 30%. Also there is vast difference in literacy level based on gender in villages compared to city.
Rajesh Patra: Anoop. No, we can’t blame the Govt. Anything happens we blame the Government. But don’t you think, we, as responsible citizens should take the charge.
Hrisheekesh: Well Anoop, a government is only as good as the people it represents and with about 35% of India still illiterate we cannot expect to get democracy to work in a fruitful manner. I agree with Rajesh about the bad situation of the buses and trains but that is more or less a fallout of the rapid population growth which in turn is somehow linked to the problem of illiteracy and ignorance.
Anoop Singh: If People get educated , and earn reasonably well, the reason for them to migrate the cities will get reduced, since education and money are the main reason for people to migrate to cities.
Lavya: Hrisheekesh, India is not 35 % illiterate it’s largely more than that
Poornima: Indian farmers are suffering a suicide instinct. This can come to an end only if the government and NGOs take up a combined action. I believe the NGOs are already doing their best. The rest lays with the govt. its not just introducing schemes like the 4000 crore scheme for Vidarbha that can change the situation. The key lies in educating those farmers out there, making them aware of latest technologies and providing them loans with out creating hassles for them.
Shiva Gopalan: Agriculture must be the main thrust for future plans. Stringent measures must be taken to educate the people of villages about their strengths and the importance of villages.
Rajesh Patra: Lavya, India's illiteracy is 40%.
Shiva Gopalan: We cannot let the village concept die off and let all the people move to cities for alternative job opportunities.
Karan Shah: From some days before one farmer from Gujarat invented the very powerful tractor engine to strengthen farmer needs , no engineer make this so these kind of people comes from our great villages so no doubt about our mind in India.
Lavya: Yes, the difference is 5 % of India population hence cannot be neglected
Poornima: The insurance sector should also make a head start in to the markets of rural India. It is proper land and debt insurance that our farmers need.
Hrisheekesh: Well Lavya, these statistics are roughly approximate and moreover, I agree that the current definition of a literate person (being able to sign) is definitely misplaced
Rajesh Patra: Shiva. Exactly as the villages cater to problems of migration, food generation and many others, we can't neglect them. They are not the weakness, rather the strength India has. So we have to take them along with in our journey towards economic superpower.
: Request everyone to give a concluding statement.
Shiva Gopalan: I wish to conclude by saying that villages are our strength provided the people living there get all the basic facilities they are entitled, improve their standards so that they can concentrate more on agriculture and not think of moving to cities for alternative jobs.
Karan Shah: The villages are heart of India in new era, no doubt about this if government takes more steps in future, so definitely the new era of India through farmer from villages.
Anoop Singh: I think Village is an untapped industry of today’s world - initiatives must be taken to get maximum profit out of it, making a Agri - revolution like the IT revolution, so we require a Narayan Murthy for this field, and yes this revolution will be much bigger and the boom will be much longer, SO Villages are definitely out strength - we need to recognize it and utilize it well!!
Rani Mehta: Indian villages amount to 65% of Indian population, and villagers mainly depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Many Indian villages still lack basic infrastructure facility such as electricity, road, schools, and drinking water. Our agriculture is growing at negligible rate of around 3.5%. If we want to sustain our economic growth, we need to focus on our agriculture growth, we need another green revolution. Currently Indian villages are not its strength but by building up necessary infrastructure we can convert them to our strength.
Poornima: India is foraying into the global markets. If this splurge in development is to continue, then it cannot be without developing our own local markets of Indian villages. It is these farmers that help as acquire one of the key needs of life, food and they should be given the significance they deserve. Innovative policies like Micro credit funds should not only be concocted but also implemented. The rural management sector will nevertheless take India places
Hrisheekesh: Representing about 70% of the Indian population, rural India has a significant role to play in India's sustained development. The major strength of Indian villages is the cultural diversity and agriculture. But the main problems are illiteracy and lack of good infrastructure which make them a liability. If India can improve in these aspects then rural India will definitely be a source of strength rather than weakness.
Dhiraj: Villages are strength for us and our economy as they still provide us with 27% GDP, they teach us moral values and our ground roots. We can make this strength to be become a powerful tool to our success by teaching the villagers and implementing refined ways for doing agriculture and educating villagers so that they can contribute to our service industry and grow the country to become a super power. Thanks a lot.
: Ok Thanks everyone, Will send the results on the group soon.