Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rural hell to urban hell

I remember the days when I could cycle from one end of Bangalore to the other end in 15 minutes. That was 50 years ago. Today I cannot do it at all by the bicycle. At this rate of monstrous growth, this city is going to kill itself in another twenty years. It will be impossible to provide the basic civic needs to this large number of people spread out in 50 km radius by our none too efficient civic body, the BBMP.

Many so called people of vision see the inevitability of our towns and cities growing bigger because of migration of people from rural to urban locales and they even recommend an urban based economy. These include the likes of Nandan Nilakeni and the illustrious Narayan Murthy. This inevitability is due to ambitious youth whose numbers make 70% of our population. These young men are migrating to towns and cities in search of better living and more opportunities.

What is the result? Our towns and cities are becoming quagmires of dirt and decay. Our rich and the powerful are hiding behind huge fortress like compounds with security guarding their privacy away from the environmental muck that surrounds them. Most migrants end up as labourers of one type or the other serving these powerful few.

Is this what we want for our country? Is there no way to prevent this migration? Or is it inevitable or even desirable that people move out?

I am not an economist or a town planner. I only write about what I see and observe. I observe the development of a greatly demeaning society because of this migration. My gut feeling is that if we don’t reverse this trend, our towns and cities will die due to lack of resources and poor management.

How can we reverse this? There are some thoughts. These may not be original ones but they keep on occurring to me whenever I think of the rural poor. The minimum wages must be guaranteed as it is being done in the cities. Increasing the job opportunities in the villages will help to reverse the trend. This can be done by major changes in our agricultural policies. The farmer must not suffer and farm produce must get the right price unlike now where the middleman gets most of the money. Rural overpopulation leads to migration of excess labor. Limiting numbers must be our relentless drive. No one in right sense will leave a comfortable rural life to a life for a poor quality urban life merely because of the so called attractions of urban living. They are coming to the towns and cities because our rural economy is failing to provide jobs.

They leave and make the rural economy suffer and clutter and destroy the cities. Bangalore is one such prime example how this can happen in one's life time [mine]

1 comment:

Gopakumar said...

I fully agree with you. In fact, Joseph Stiglitz, who won the Nobel for Economics, says that the most sensible employment option for the masses is agriculture and that the Governments of developing nations should look to make them better farmers - more training, better prices and access to rural healthcare - and not have them shift professions.
As I travel to rural areas frequently, I also worry that in twenty years, we will have a shortage of farmers (and therefore food). Gopu