Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Rural-Urban Divide in India


I drew a plan of the city -
tall housing
narrow offices,
roads for two-wheelers, four-wheelers,
space allocated for trees to stand,

I marked them all in the city,
not knowing how
to make space for me.

Carefully I created the city,
leaving myself out.

(Poem by A. Vennila, Translated by C. S. Lakshmi and Arundhati Subramaniam, Taken from the Open Space pamphlet titled, Coming to the City)

A Picture of an Indian Metropolitan

A Picture of an Indian Village

Indian Urban Women

Indian Rural Women

Indian Urban Women

Indian Rural Women

Padmashri Prof. Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004)


The hills are always far away.
He knows the broken roads, and moves
In circles tracked within his head.
Before he wakes and has his say,
The river which he claims he loves
Is dry, and all the winds lie dead.

At dawn he never sees the skies
Which, silently, are born again.
Nor feels the shadows of the night
Recline their fingers on his eyes.
He welcomes neither sun nor rain.
His landscape has no depth or height.

The city like a passion burns.
He dreams of morning walks, alone,
And floating on a wave of sand.
But still his mind its traffic turns
Away from beach and tree and stone
To kindred clamour close at hand.

- Nissim Ezekiel

  • Inequalities in income, lack of employment opportunities, lack of infrastructure and civic amenities, inadequate access to education, healthcare and other basic services are some of the major areas where rural areas lag behind.
  • Over 70% of the population resides in rural areas, and agriculture which is its main occupation now, accounts for only a quarter of the country's GDP.
  • Rural India encompasses a little less than three-fourths of the country's poulation and is characterised by low income levels, poor quality of life and a weak base of human development.
  • The agriculture sector has been growing at less than half the pace of the other sectors. During the Seventh Plan, agriculture and allied sectors grew at a rate of 3.4 per cent, while the national economy grew at 6 per cent. In 1997-98, there was negative growth of 2 per cent in the agricultural sector, although the national economy grew by 5 per cent.
  • Agricultural investments account for 10 per cent of the total investments in the country.
  • According to one estimate, the average income of an urban dweller is four times higher than that of a rural dweller. Rural deprivation becomes crystal clear if we look at the data on rural India's contribution to the GDP and what the rural areas get back. Rural contribution is 27% but the return is 5%.
  • The gap between the average for urban and rural areas widened by over 8% between 1987-88 and 2000-01.
  • In 2001, the urban literacy rate was 80.6% but the rural literacy rate was 59.21%.
  • Of the illiterate people who are 15 years and above but not beyond 60 years, rural areas have 55.8% and the urban areas 25.1%.
  • Of the school-going children in the age group of 5-14 years, 82.4 per cent live in urban areas.
  • Data collected from the sample registration show that life expectancy at birth in rural areas is 58 years, in the case of urban India it is 64.9 years.
  • 84.4% of rural households are devoid of toilet facilities, in the case of urban areas it is 23%.
  • The all-India average monthly per capita consumer expenditure (MPCE) was Rs. 495 in rural areas and Rs. 914 in the urban ones.
  • S. Rajagopalan, "The Rural-Urban Divide in India", ICFAI Journal of Urban Policy, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2007
  • Prabhat Datta, "The Great Indian Divide", Frontline, Vol. 21, Issue 14, July 3 -16, 2004
  • Dileep Rangachari, "The Wide Rural-Urban Divide", The Times of India, March 24, 2003

Open Space organised a discussion on the Rural-Urban Divide in India on Sunday, 14th June, 2009, at its premises in Lucknow. On the occasion a few of Nissim Ezekiel's poems were also recited. The great Indian Jewish poet Prof. Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004), who was decorated with India's fourth highest civilian honour, the Padmashri, is widely known as an Urban Poet.


Fareed Ahmed said...

According to the national Survey of India(2008). In Rural Areas people have only 12 rupees to spend per day out of their earnings,Out of which on an average they spend only 7 rupees per day,on essential requirements for existence.While in Urban Areas the expenditure per day on an average is much more.

Is 7 rupees per day enough for you to spend per day in present scenario of inflation and recession?

Dr Jayaraman Nambiar said...

If only we had followed Gandhijis ideas and improoved our rural economy india would have been a Ramarajya. Instead we went high and concentrated on industrilasiation tahst teh mistake sir