“The soul of India lives in its villages.” This was said by Mr. Gandhi at the beginning of 20th century. Over a century after this had been stated, its important to analyse its relevance in the context of current social, economic and political developments in India.
There was a difference of opinion between Mr. Gandhi and Dr. Ambedkar regarding the system and the role of the Government in villages. While Gandhi ji wanted to make villages self ruling units through traditional panchyat system, Dr. Ambedkar believed that villages were cesspools of cruelty, caste prejudice and communalism.
It wont be very difficult today to prove the merit in what Ambedkar said 100 years ago. Till date, these panchyats are mired in orthodox practices and cross all limits of barbarity in order to keep their traditions alive. For example, last year, a panchayat ordered a woman to be gang raped because she had a relationship with a man from different community. Honour killing by Khap panchyats is yet another example from norhthern states of India.
Despite constitutional safeguards, practices like untouchabilty is still prevalent in our society. Communal violence is largely reported from less developed states of India. This was certainly not envisaged by Mr. Gandhi for his ideal village. He was against untouchability and violence.
The state of economic development of villages in post independence India is not satisfactory either. Except few states which were benefited by Green revolution, farming is not mechanized in most of the states. Over dependence on monsoon and old methods of farming are responsible for low productivity.
Old crafts in India are dyeing due to lack of recognition. Even if some products reach the market, the profit is gained by middle man instead of craftsman.
After liberalization,big MNCs chose big cities or nearby areas for setting up industries leading to lack of employment opportunities for people in less developed regions causing excess migration to cities. According to census 2011, 70% of India’s GDP in 2012 came from around 189 district which were nearer to one or the other metro city. The reason being these metropolitan clusters provide much needed better infrastructure, quality of life( drinking water , sanitation , electricity etc.), skilled manpower and connectivity for movement of goods and labour to industries.
Economic and social development are prerequisites for political development of a society. A poor person can not fight for his rights because he has to first worry about earning his bread and butter. In the absence of awareness and education it is easy to incite violence among such people on the basis of caste, religion and other micro identities.
A city is like a melting pot where people forget about their micro identities and change their priority to personal growth.Various stereotypes are broken when one meets people from different castes, religions or regions. People become aware about their political, economic and constitutional rights. They can make rational decisions which is important for the growth of the democracy.