The ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ in 2014, one of the first nationwide rural-centric schemes by the, government. In, seven from 38 percent of toilet coverage pan-India in 2014, the country now has a hundred per cent coverage of toilets, with nearly 11 crore (110 Million) toilets being constructed-largely across rural India. As a result of this, over 6,00,000 villages have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF), leading to better health and sanitation for a large chunk of Indians. Similarly, the launch of "Ujjwala Yojana" five years ago was primarily targeted at providing energy security and a dignified life with better health for rural women by providing them over eight crore (80 million) free gas cylinders since 2016.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin:
India’s rural areas have long been associated with widespread homelessness
and kuccha (thatched), poorly built houses, which further aggravate poverty in villages.
Realising the significance of affordable and reliable housing for all in ensuring equitable development in rural India, the government launched in 2016, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) to provide all weather homes to the poorest strata of society.
Till date, over 1.5 crore houses have been built in rural areas, reducing homelessness and acute poverty for a majorly rural populace.
Ayushman Bharat Yojana:
Complementary to efforts for uplifting rural India was the implementation of the world’s largest health assurance scheme by the Indian government, named "Ayushman Bharat Yojana," which currently has treated nearly two crore beneficiaries, mostly coming from lower-income backgrounds and excluded from the healthcare system owing to their financial constraints.
The massive electrification programs which led to each village of India getting electrified in 2015 complemented by the "Ujala Yojana" under which over 36 crore (360 million) LED bulbs have been distributed in a bid to take India’s villages out of the bane of darkness that hampered their progress for so long.
Another milestone effort to boost economic activity and higher mobility has been the astonishing pace of rural roads being constructed in the past seven years- over 2.25 lakh kilometers of them connecting 97 per cent of India’s villages with the rest of the country.
Schemes on agriculture:
Agriculture and allied activities forming the major contributor to rural economics, boosting farm incomes, promoting better soil health and diversifying the agricultural palette of the rural areas, all become pertinent to not just higher rural economic growth but also to fulfill India’s numerous health, environment and food security commitments globally. These are the precise domains where the launch and implementation of initiatives such as Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM Trinity), Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), Soil Health Cards (SHCs), e-National Agricultural Market (e-NAM), PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN); PM Fasal Bima Yojana and PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, have all led to a near-transformation of agricultural activity in rural areas by making it farmer-centric rather than crop-centric.
Boosting telecommunication network system:
By record low rates of mobile data and calls in India leading to even higher participation of rural areas in the broader economic and social activity. On the back of an ever-growing network of Common Service engagements centres, government service delivery nodal points, rural efficiency and engagement have grown rapidly
Other focus areas:
The government has converged much of its policy targets to aggressively promote grass roots entrepreneurship and innovation through schemes like Mudra Yojana, Van Dhan Yojana, One District One Product (ODOP), Skill India, Kaushal Vikas Yojana and Standup India. With higher productivity, young demography, and a skilled workforce, the growth potential of rural economic activity is immense and waiting to be tapped.
All the above-mentioned initiatives points to a serious commitment and outcome-oriented approach on the union government’s part towards long-term growth of rural India in the ‘New India’ growth story. For far too long has rural India remained a mere spectator, much less a beneficiary, of the economic transformation seen across our urban centres.
The government has time and again, shown that no meaningful economic or social progress can take place in India without its villages and thus, it is high time, rural India becomes an active participant, even the driver, of India’s rise in the years to come. Rural India, for its part, couldn’t agree more.