Globalization Impact on Employment, Education, Culture and Rural Development in India
International trade has registered manifold increase (3-4 times or more) as a proportion to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) compared to eighties. Two decades earlier, restrictions were in force on foreign trade, exports, imports, foreign direct investment, technology transfer etc. to protect Indian economy for self reliance. With the implementation of New Economic Policy of Indian Government, many processes involving privatization, liberalization and globalization got automatically initiated. However, this action is understood to have taken place to get more financial assistance from international funding agencies like International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Opening of Indian markets to multinational companies (MNCs) has helped introduction of new technologies but it is believed to take place at the cost of gradual withdrawal of farm subsidies to Indian farmers. Globalization is believed to affect most the earnings and the living standards of people in the urban areas. NGO's and several organizations are studying the impact of globalization on value system and employment. People describe its impact in relation to literacy, skills, growth and development mostly on urban life but its effect on rural livelihood that impacts more than 60 percent of Indian population is seldom discussed.Main source of income in rural India is from agriculture since 55% income in rural economy is contributed by farming that keeps fluctuating depending on monsoon, government policies and subsidies.
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Standard of living: Rural population has very low purchasing power than its counterpart staying in urban areas. Occasional large scale purchases by few (affluent and cooperatives) are made from urban markets since rural markets are underdeveloped. People living in villages adjacent to cities have an edge over those living in interior areas in terms of income generation. People living in villages close to cities get an opportunity to work as construction workers, vegetable sellers and contractual laborers. Income generated in this way help them to purchase agricultural inputs to improve productivity and subsequently their purchasing power.
Rural infrastructure: In Indian villages, people still live in houses made of mud barring houses of few rich and progressive farmers. Houses constructed for people in the name of "Indira Awaas Yojna" are poorly designed and offer limited accommodation. These houses are in no way better than the houses in which poor villagers are already residing. Dwelling units made in the name of "Indira Awaas" are so small that a family of three to four people can not live comfortably in these houses. This appears sheer wastage of public money in the name of subsidy for helping poor people. An amount of INR 45000 was allocated for single unit earlier that has been recently increased to INR 70000. Even this amount is meager for construction of a house at prevailing building material and labor costs. The worst thing about the Indira Aawas is the location of these houses as land for construction of such houses is usually government owned land and it is mostly far away from the villages. People in villages prefer to stay in clusters and large spaced houses. They can stay in muddy houses but they can not stay in clumsy and one or two room houses. They may reside in open space but not in space constrained houses. Occupation of such houses has been taken by the people but majority of occupants are still staying in their "Kuchcha" houses. Farming communities are yet untouched from the wind of globalization.
Employment: Labor migration to cities from rural areas in search of employment is a common phenomena. There are various reasons for people movement from villages to cities. These include desire for more comfort, higher income and numerous job opportunities. Scarcity of labor has further worsened by the 'minimum wage act'. Earlier, wages were determined by different factors like demand and supply, nature of work and efficiency of the laborers.
Farmers are finding it difficult to hire workers on the wages determined by government and its ministries. Fund paucity has compelled them to perform farming activities using family labor. Government never allows foodgrain, petrol and crude prices to be determined by the market forces. A policy of minimum wages to daily paid labors is more a political move than the help rendered to poor people. Schemes like NAREGA or MNREGA need critical evaluation to make them welfare scheme before they turn game spoiler. Giving three months assured job in a year to needy people make them also the lazy as they earn good money in three month and use it for rest of the month. However, alcoholism, addiction to card games etc. allow them to spend this money in less time and migrate to seek job in towns and cities.
Roads: Government has initiated several developmental programs for uplifting of living standards of poor people but full benefits have not reached to the targeted population due to corruption prevalent in administrative and political systems.Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna has resulted in road connectivity in rural India but roads are of poor quality and without drainage support. Toilet and lavatory systems are not of standard quality and not even constructed in all houses of the village. Even today more than 90 percent people in villages attend the call of nature in open fields. Poor roads restrict movement of agricultural products from villages to goods markets in cities & towns. This disallow them to earn good price of their product.
Electricity: Life in rural India is miserable due to non-availability of electricity. Several states in India claim that 40, 50 or even 100 percent villages have been electrified. But supply of electricity to villages that have been electrified is not more than 3-4 hours per day. It is big hindrance in development. Globalization is not going to make much difference to rural life until and unless electricity is supplied uninterruptedly 10-12 hours per days too these villages. Population pressure will always be there in cities until and unless electric supply is made to a threshold level in rural areas.
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Education: School buildings are available in few villages but number of teachers is inadequate in primary schools. Benches, boards and other facilities are of sub-standard quality. There is, however, one positive development that girls are attending the schools in the villages. Also the number of students attending graduate and post graduate courses is increasing but awareness among students from rural areas lacks towards technical education and that is the single reason that most of the students from rural areas are unable to secure employment.
Technology: Technology has failed to percolate to villages in absence of electricity and other communication infrastructure. Few people know about the internet. However, well-to-do families have availed DTH and dish TV facilities. Mobile connections are increasing in rural areas but at slower pace. There are no small scale industries in villages to provide employment to educated youth. Government is trying to push the technological changes in the agriculture to make it a profitable venture. Efforts have resulted as success stories in selected cases. Lack of irrigation facilities in rainfed areas has blocked the progress of agriculture.
Culture and social values: India’s real culture is still preserved in rural life. New advancement of technology has not much influence in rural areas. People still prefer to wear dresses of old fashion and celebrate festivals in old styles. Folk dances and folk songs are still popular among villagers. Culture is still untouched and unaffected by western influence. Globalization has no impact on rural life as standards of living are suboptimal but migration of people is taking place and poor people are moving to urban areas in search of employment.
Agriculture: Globalization does not have any positive impact on agriculture. On the contrary, it has few detrimental effect as government is always willing to import food grains, sugar etc whenever there is a price increase of these commodities. Government never thinks to pay more to farmers so that they produce more food grains but resorts to imports. On the other hand, subsidies are declining so cost of production is increasing. Even firms producing fertilizers have to suffer due to imports. There are also threats like introduction of GM crops, herbicide resistant crops etc.
Subsidies: India can not afford to protect its rural population from jerks of globalization and liberalization since it may have adverse effect on its economy. However, Indian government has to act judiciously considering long term impacts of its economic policies. Developed countries like USA provides over $ 18 billion subsidies to Indian farmers. Subsidies are vital to Indian agriculture too but subsidizing anything to its full value have a negative impact. None of the developmental programs can survive or attain its goal if it does not not involve any cost to the ultimate user. Providing free inputs to farming community may fetch few votes but not improvement in productivity. Hence, government should increase subsidies to inputs but subsidies should not be over 20-30 percent on any item. Misuse of subsidies by the farmers and government officials is not uncommon in India and needs to be curtailed using punishments and technological tools.
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