There has been many assumptions about rural India. However, in recent decade villages have witnessed drastic changes in terms of social, political to economic. Mohd Mustaquim brings out a list of assumptions which are no longer valid.
1. Rural India has poor education system
The biggest change rural India has witnessed in the last 15 years is in the education sector. There used to be one primary school within a radius of 3 kms and one secondary school in the radius of 8-15 kms. Today, every village has one or more primary schools and a secondary school within a radius of 3 km.
2. Rural India is poor
”The number of rural Indians who are rich outnumber the number of rich urban Indians in sheer numeric terms today. The best of aspirational products can find their way into rural markets. And they do, thanks to the power of e-commerce”, says Harish Bijoor, brand expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.
3. Rural India has poor communication channels
As per an estimation, by 2017, all people in rural India will get Android phones. There are five lakh installations of DTH every month in the country. The cost of DTH has played an important role as it is available at Rs 2,500 only, and it is functional in the remotest of the remote areas.
4. Rural India is Media Dark
Even though power supply is inconsistent, 540,000 villages have already been electrified by 2012-13, thanks to Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana. Only 99,000 village are yet to be electrified. As a result, it has pushed the sale of television sets and DTH services in the village.
“In the past few years, television penetration in rural India has gone up from 31 percent , in 2007, to 39.8 percent in 2010,” says Vikram Mehra, chief commercial officer, Tata Sky. The television market in rural India is growing annually at 7-8 percent.
5.Rural India is not digital and social media inclusive
Not true again. Almost everyone has a Facebook account, and the medium has virtually erased the geographic inequality. Above that, WhatsApp is in every pocket. The fact is, everyone aspires to get connected, and everyone will soon be.
6. Rural India has insufficient supply chain network
Every village with a population of 5000 people has a big wholesale trader. This ensures that all products reach the last mile consumers, thanks to Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) which has provided easy access to the village. It has changed the face of rural India during the last decade. The project is still on to enhance rural roads connectivity. Due to this, marketers, today, have direct access to the villages and reach to the last mile consumers with their goods, services and solutions.
7. Indian farmers are poor
Earlier, having a bullock cart and a pair of oxen was matter of pride, now there are tractors ploughing their fields. People now use combined harvesters, rice transplanters and various kinds of implements in their fields.
Annual maintenance of a bullock cart is around Rs 50,000 while a 20 HP tractor is available by paying an annual EMI of the same amount. Thus, people are shifting to tractors and other agricultural machineries. Government’s push by providing subsidies for farm machineries has also played an important role in mechanisation of agriculture. All farm machinery companies, from domestic to international, have made inroads in the remotest areas of the country.
8 Rural people have no access to banks
After RBI’s mandate of opening at least 25 percent branches in the unbanked rural areas, banks have started spreading their network in the remote areas of the country. Not only public sector banks, private sector banks have started. It is seen as a big step towards financial inclusion among the rural people. State Bank of India and private sector banks like ICICI and HDFC Bank have made good footprints in the rural.
9.Rural India reside in katcha houses
It is true that 20 years ago majority of people in rural India were living in katcha houses. However, the trend has changed and majority of them have shifted to pucca houses. The state-run Indira Awaas Yojana has also played important role in improving rural housing. It is surprising to see that rural India has become the biggest market for cement, steel and furniture industry. Today, 37 percent of income in rural India is generated through construction sector, surpassing agriculture sector’s 35 percent.
10. Rural people are forced to migrate
Two decades ago, migration was deep in rural India. However, employment generation in local level has put a check on distress migration. Even though few improvements are required, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act has changed the face of rural employment generation. Apart from MGNREGA, PMGSY, micro enterprises have also made a difference in creating jobs in the hinterlands.
11. Cycles are the only way of transportation in rural areas
Two decades ago, owning a bicycle was a fashion statement. Now, most of the families have a motorcycle. The way PMGSY constructed all weather roads to connect the village, rising income has increased the aspiration for motorcycles and SUVs in villages. Hero MotoCorp, Honda and Bajaj are now the common names in the rural areas. It is quite common to see SUVs like Tata Sumo, Mahindra Bolero and Scorpio in India’s rural. And among the youth above 16 years of age, there is an aspiration to own a motorcycle, not bicycle.