Economy and Livelihoods
Even though, pace of urbanization in India has been slower than other parts of the world, but the population residing in urban areas in India has continued to increase. It crossed 30% as per 2011 census and by 2030, 40.76% of country's population is expected to reside in urban areas. Apart from natural growth of urban population, millions migrated to towns and cities in search of a better life. This was also accompanied with large scale inter-state migration of people in search for better opportunities. People from like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Rajasthan moved to States like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat. There was also intra-state movement from rural areas to urban areas. Close to 9 million people have been moving annually since 2011. Total number of internal migrants in the country stood at staggering 240 million in 2020.
These migrant workers majorly comprised of daily-wage labourers working in the manufacturing and construction industries who had left their villages and moved to towns in search of livelihood. When the pandemic struck, millions were rendered jobless. With this, non-agriculture employment rose slowly but surely. COVID-2019 however changed it all and brought in unique challenges of jobs and livelihoods. This resulted in a mass reverse migration, within months nearly 10 million migrant workers walked; hitch hiked, took trains and came back to their villages.
In 2020, Indian railways in partnership with the State governments had a wonderful job of moving these millions of migrants across States safely and in a matter of just few weeks. Next challenge was for States to enable them to resettle them. For self-employment, it was imperative that there was full and need-based access to (a) skill (b) credit (c) technology (d) market without procedural hassles. Sufficient avenues of self-employment conforming to the skills and endowments of all interstate migrant workmen who have been brought back to the originating state had to be created with sufficient incremental income from the avocations/enterprises in which they are engaged so that there will be less occasion or motivation to migrate once again under the same exploitative conditions as before?
The key lies in empowering the millions of smallholder producers and landless workers who form the backbone of rural economies in most developing countries to grow their incomes and improve their livelihoods by raising agricultural productivity and engaging in markets.
The positive side of this development was that more hands became available for agriculture and food production. There was return to integrated and cooperative farming in a big way. Mono crop or single crop cultivation was be replaced by multi crop cultivation. Variety of crop like millets, corn were widely cultivated in place of paddy or wheat. This shift, in turn, will bring a shift in the food palate also. As a part of the process, people will start having more nutritious and balanced food. A balanced food will develop a healthy body and subsequently a healthy mind.
The shift back to agriculture, greater connectivity with local and foreign market, self- reliant village communities, better education, better cultivation techniques, right choice of crop and involvement of man and women in running their local enterprises have ensured that by 2050, village communities are prosperous societies that no longer need to migrate to towns or cities to fulfil their dreams of a better tomorrow.
Gender equality is the sign of an evolved society. Equal respect towards opposite sex is an attitude and nothing to do with the formal education or wealth. Real development will begin afterwards. But to become a developed society, it has to evolve first. Without an evolve mind-set all the vision will look like an utopia. However precisely, the year 2050 will achieve gender equality in true sense through universal participation in economic growth. Thus the year 2050 will witness a prosperous era.