When Aravind Adiga was penning down his book ‘The White Tiger’, he distinctly differentiated between the two ‘Indias’ that exist today. The urban, modernized and empowered India, enamoring foreigners, migrants and investors, is gaining weight, announcing its existence. Unfortunately, the other India, the rural, penniless, marginalized and abandoned entity is now being forgotten, ignored. The mere fact that it’s rural somehow snatches away its power. Its power of livelihood, its power of identity!
Livelihood in Rural India is an enormous intensity of unspoken, untold and anonymous little stories of struggle every day. The stories of resistance which aren’t documented, conversed, transformed or even accepted. Travelling in rural India, for a change, reveals these stark realities, depending on your power to consume them. So, let’s even momentarily delve into them and try to understand.
- Lack of education: A striking number of farmers, daily wage laborers, local craftsmen and others do not have the finance to educate their children. All they have, few kilometers away is perhaps a government school with peeling walls, claustrophobic spaces and absolutely scarce teachers. No matter how many start-ups evolve with the idea of creating this massive change, it’s going to be a long and arduous process.
- Exploitation: The local traditions of paintings, cloth-making, textiles, weaving and others have suddenly gained massive attention from commercial giants. Their products are sold in the metropolitan cities at alarming rates. But eventually, when enquired deeper, it’s almost a disgrace to know how these local rural populations are being exploited by being paid a negligible amount.
- Lack of infrastructure: As rural India includes poor, powerless and replaceable people, often just alive enough to become a digit in the government census, they are not being endowed with proper infrastructure. This can be for anything and everything, like farming, entrepreneurship, tourism and others. Along with the lack of financial investment, they are also suffering from the lack of infrastructure to channel their products, involvement or necessities. Investing in infrastructure like better roadways, hospitals, schools or food markets is very low, unfortunately.
- Caste system: Mahatma Gandhi had rightly pointed out that the entire burden of eradicating caste system should start from the villages, the main focal point. The treacherous grip of caste system in the contours of rural India is still quite disappointing. For example, rural Indian women are still not allowed to enter the sacred sanctorum of Shiva Temples in South India, an obnoxious tradition that has been going on for centuries.
- Suicides: Though government statistics are easily referring to the massive cause of farmer suicides in places like Vidarbha and Anantpur as signs of depression so that they don’t have to pay to the widows, the existence of loan scarcity, dominance of landlords and massive drought cannot be ignored.
Well, quite rightly, the existence of poverty in deeply carved in the skin of rural India, forever. It might be, time and again, erased just a little bit to showcase the development paradigm that we utterly want to follow, yet we fail. The challenges to livelihood in rural India are getting more apparent and unbearable, day by day. And perhaps, these challenges would one day, haunt the other India, as well, in its own way.
By- Shubhda Chaudhary