Having had a first hand experience of the 'village life', all thanks to a 45-day Community Orientation Program I attended, the state of affairs in our villages surprised me.
The village I was posted at had witnessed several suicides due to crop losses, women were constantly harassed by their in-laws, children were malnourished and some kids who were as young as six were already addicted to pan and cigarettes. When government officials were questioned, they simply refused to give any answers and added that they were already burdened with 'too much work'.
Not just the village mentioned above, problems faced by rural India are far too many. While some areas are grappling under drought, other places are being supplied with fluoride rich water. Poor electricity, bad roads and lack of other basic amenities and infrastructure like schools & hospitals are some of the problems Indian villages are plagued with.
What plagues Rural India?
Unlike Urban bodies like Municipalities and Corporations, the Gram Panchayats receive little funds plus given the number of middlemen involved, only a tiny minuscule of the allotted funds are received by the officials.
MPs and MLAs focus only on the development of urban areas and in this process the rural areas are neglected leading to poor infrastructure. This then turns into a vicious cycle as lack of amenities prevents doctors, teachers and engineers from serving in villages.
Is there no end in sight?
The only way 'Bharat' can be developed is through Gram Panchayats, where local leaders are elected by the villagers themselves.
Every village faces a different problem and this can be solved only by the villagers who know about it very well. The Gram Panchayat members must be given basic training in management and fund allocation. Computer and other Internet related skills must be taught as well to ensure efficiency of these farmers increases. Women must be empowered and educated to ensure they are not harassed by their family members.
The real India dwells in villages. Nearly 70% of Indian citizens live in villages and we can no longer continue to neglect this sector. While the centre must be commended for increasing the budget allocation to rural sector and gram Panchayat, only future will decide if this will be enough.