Skip to main content

Govt insensitivity? Lockdown an opportunity to promote reverse migration to villages

By Prem Verma*
It would be pertinent to remember in these turbulent times what Mahatma Gandhi had suggested in the 1940’s for making the India as the centrepiece of planning and growth:
“I am convinced that if India is to attain true freedom and through India the world also, then sooner or later the fact must be recognized that people will have to live in villages, not in towns, in huts, not in palaces.
“My idea of Village Swaraj is that it is a complete Republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in which dependence is a necessity. Thus every village’s first concern will be to grow its own food crops and cotton for its cloth. It should have a reserve for its cattle, recreation and playground for adults and children.
“Then if more land is available, it will grow useful money crops. The village will maintain a village theatre, school and public hall. It will have its own waterworks ensuring clean water supply. This can be done through controlled wells or tanks. Education will be compulsory up to the final basic course. As far as possible every activity will be conducted on the co-operative basis.
“No one under it should suffer for want of food and clothing. We should be ashamed of resting or having a square meal so long as there is one able-bodied man or woman without work or food.”

Jayaprakash Narayan on a much later date echoed the same sentiments:
“The economy of the community should be as self-sufficient as possible… The primary concern of the community is to provide for satisfaction of the primary needs of its members. It is therefore natural for it to produce all it can to provide for them food, clothing, shelter and other necessaries . It is also the community’s responsibility to see that every able-bodied individual in the community finds useful employment.”
During this lockdown and thereafter the country has come face to face with the ugliness of migration. That the economy of this country was to a great extent dependent on the migratory labour was known but not given importance and acknowledged since we would then have to answer for all the miseries suffered by this migratory population for eking out a starvation level living.
Let us get back to the Gandhian model and make the villages of this country the pulsating veins of economic growth
We few enjoyed almost all the fruits of prosperity giving a small pittance to those who laboured day and night to provide us with all the comfort. The migratory labour flocking to the cities from villages far away, leaving their dear families to the vagaries of nature, were treated in a manner as if we were doing them a favour by employing them instead of the reality of vice versa.
Divya Varma writes in “Deccan Herald”, “For the migrants, the city has always been a site of extraction and alienation. Despite ‘building’ the cities, they have persisted on its margins – invisible and isolated.” Such migrant population in India is estimated to be around 139 million.
Leaving aside the misery and torture suffered and endured by the migrants recently, thanks to an insensitive government, the lockdown is offering us an opportunity to take our small scale and cottage industries from the cities to the villages of the migrants.
We need to reevaluate our concentration of small scale and cottage industry clusters in the overcrowded cities and shift them to the villages nearer the home of the migrant population. This has two advantages, namely, we get a happy and health worker residing in the village with his family and also we are shifting the migrant population from the cities to the village countryside. This ensures village upliftment together with reduction of congestion in cities.
As an industrialist Mahesh Kejriwal in Bokaro (Jharkhand) has suggested:
“Some measures on the line of China to shift industries from the congested areas to the villages will help to solve the problem of both overcrowding and migration. When industries will develop in the hinterlands they will provide employment to villagers who will not have to go to the cities to find jobs.”
The Indian economy is in doldrums and the government is rightly experimenting with various stimuli to kick-start the economy. This is the right time to provide the micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector with incentive and support and motivate them to shift to the rural sector for the long term benefits of a contented work force.
The cities consequently will get decongested and heave a sigh of relief. Let us get back to the Gandhian model and make the villages of this country the pulsating veins of economic growth with simplicity, humility and empathy.
---
*Convenor, Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

Can scientists believe in God, yet explore nature 'abandoning' belief?

By Dr TV Sajeev*  In August 2023, India celebrated the successful soft-landing of Chandrayan on the south pole of the moon. That mission too led to some questioning about whether scientists could believe in God. The culture of temple visits and poojas before the launch of rockets with or without payload had been a mocking point for a long while. 

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.