Rural Self-Reliance Strategies
2nd Sep, 2020
- In terms of population, work force and contribution to the net domestic product (NDP),rural India accounts for a large share (69 percent, 71percent and 47 percent, respectively) of the Indian economy.
- The pandemic and the resultant pause of economic activities have witnessed huge reverse migration from urban to rural areas.
- Growth in both demand and supply is pivotal in the revival of the Indian rural economy.
Food, Agriculture and Related Sectors
- In April, 2020, the launch of 'KisanRath' mobile app was aimed at facilitating transportation of foodgrains and perishables during the lockdown so that issues faced by both the producers and the consumers could be mitigated.
- Besides, All India AgriTransport 24*7 Call Centres too were launched early on during the lockdown period.
- The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare’s initiative towards formation of 10,000 new Farmers’ Producer Organisations (FPOs) willfocus on social mobilization and economic emancipation of small, marginal and landless farmers and it will be a rural game-changer.
- Providing a competitive edge and working towards the sustainability of FPOs are vital since they imbibe the tenets of both cooperatives and the corporate, besides collectivizing the strengths of small farmers.
- The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund if properly administered and rolled out with the help of farmers' groups, FPOs and cooperatives, can ensure setting up of an effective supply chain with technologically advanced agro-based industries.
- The amended 'Essential Commodities' Actwould reduceregulatory interference by removing cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onions and potatoes from the list of essential commodities, which in turn would be a catalyst in attracting more investment into this sector.
- The Pradhan MantriGaribKalyan package is aimed at distributing free food grains and providing cash to women and poor senior citizens and farmers, by using Direct Benefit Transfer.
- The procurement of wheat from farmers has been an all-time highand this procurement ensures direct benefit to tribal people.
- Minor Forest Produce is also covered under the recently approved new Centrally Sponsored Scheme called Scheme for Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises for the unorganised sector.
- The objectives of the scheme entail an enhanced access of micro food processing units to finance and increase in their revenues.
- The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, was promulgated in June, 2020.The Ordinance strives to create an ecosystem where farmers and traders will have the freedom of choice of sale and purchase ofagro-produce and there will be barrier-free interstate and intra-state trade.
- Besides, the provision of electronic trading is a step towards virtual transaction, which has become the recent norm in almost every sphere of the economy.This initiative of the government would be able to assure appropriate price discovery of the agro-produce even at the farmers' doorstep.
- A major reason for rural-urban migration is the lack of job opportunities in the rural areas.
- The GaribKalyanRojgarAbhiyaan launched on 20th June, 2020, not only aims at providing employment opportunity to the reverse migrants, but also constructing durable public works.
- The focus of the Jal Jeevan Mission within the Abhiyaan is to provide household tap connections to every rural household.
- The secondary sector has assumed significance in rural areas. A study by NitiAayog shows that rural areas produce almost the entire agriculturalproduce, about one-third of non-farm output and almost half of non-farm employment.
- Besides the collateral free debt and interest subvention, a major highlight of the MSME package is Distressed Assets Fund Subordinate Debt for MSMEs, which aims to protect around 2 lakh MSMEs.
- The sectoral share of agriculture both in rural NDP and rural employment is the largest, although the share in NDP is almost half of its share in employment.
- Therefore, it is essential to map their skills on their return from urban areas and accordingly, provide for their gainful absorption in sectors other than agriculture.
- For the self-reliance of rural economy, it is essential to invest in human capital. For this purpose, investing in health and education assumes paramount importance.
- Augmenting rural health infrastructure in terms of not just a hike in health expenditure butalso strengthening lab network and surveillance, and encouraging research, has been necessitated considering that demand for health care is even more because of reverse migrants.
- For ensuring continuity of education despite the break from regular classes, PM eVIDYA, a programme for multimode access to digital/online education, along with Manodarpan to ensure mental health and emotional well-being of students, teachers and families have been planned to be launched.
- A new national curriculum for school, early childhood and teachers and a National Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission are also lined up for launch.
- Just like mapping the skills of the returnee migrant labour, it is also essential to assess whether the agricultural and non-agricultural output can be exported, especially to countries where there is a growing demand, keeping in view that economic activities have been on a standstill mode in a large number of economies.
- The successful implementation of the schemes and measures depends largely on convergence of efforts of the Central Government and State Government and the efforts of various Departments and the ease with which skills of returnee migrants are matched with the skills required at various notified public works.
- Being self-reliant does not imply having inward-looking policies, rather it means capitalizing on existing inward strengths and prudently making use of every opportunity, while overcoming weaknesses and threats.