ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Changing Face of Rural India

India Rural Development Report 2012-13 by IDFC Rural Development Network (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan), 2013; pp xxxv+280, price not indicated.

“Rural development” has been among the most critical components of the official discourse on social and economic change during the post-Independence period in India. This is quite understandable. Given that at the time of India’s Independence nearly 85% of the Indian population lived in its more than half a million rural settlements, the “rural” had to be among the foremost concerns of the emerging democratic state. “Rural” was not merely a site of backwardness. It was where the soul of India lived, in its fields, in its working kisans and in its traditions.

More than six decades later, nearly 70% of India’s population continues to be rural. However, over the years, particularly since the 1990s, the thrust and orientation of India’s economic paradigms and popular self-image has shifted away from its rural settlements and farming population, towards the urban middle classes. Shifts in economic paradigms have not simply been ideological. Seen in terms of economic aggregates, India’s development and expansion of markets has largely been in its metropolitan centres, away from its rural areas and agrarian economies. This shift is also reflected in a gradual decline of agriculture in the national economy in relative terms. Even when half of India’s working population formally remains engaged with land, the share of agriculture in the national income has declined to less than 15%.

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