Development patterns and disparities among regions and between rural and urban areas, public policies to mitigate disparities

Development patterns and disparities among regions and between rural and urban areas

Regional disparities in india

India is facing the problem of acute regional imbalances and the indicators of such imbalances are reflected by the factors like per capita income, the proportion of population living below the poverty line, the percentage of urban population of total population, percentage of working population engaged in agriculture, the percentage of workers engaged in industries, infra-structural development etc.

A region may be known as economically backward as it is indicated by the symptoms like excessive pressure of population on land, too much dependence on agriculture, high incidence of rural employment and high degree of under-employment, low productivity in agriculture and cottage industry, under urbanisation, absence of basic infra-structural facilities etc.

Main causes of regional disparities are as follows:

Historical Factor

Historically, regional imbalances in India started from its British regime. The British rulers as well as industrialists started to develop only those earmarked regions of the country which as per their own interest were possessing rich potential for prosperous manufacturing and trading activities.

British industrialists mostly preferred to concentrate their activities in two states like West Bengal and Maharashtra and more particularly to three metropolitan cities like Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. They concentrated all their industries in and around these cities neglecting the rest of the country to remain backward.

The uneven pattern of investment in industry as well as in economic overheads like transport and communication facilities, irrigation and power made by the British had resulted uneven growth of some areas, keeping the other areas totally neglected.


Geographical Factors

Geographical factors play an important role in the developmental activities of a developing economy. The difficult terrain surrounded by hills, rivers and dense forests leads to increase in the cost of administration, cost of developmental projects, besides making mobilisation of resources particularly difficult.

Most of the Himalayan states of India, i.e., Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand , Arunachal Pradesh and other North-Eastern states, remained mostly backward due to its inaccessibility and other inherent difficulties.

Adverse climate and proneness to flood are also responsible factors for poor rate of economic development of different regions of the country as reflected by low agricultural productivity and lack of industrialisation. Thus these natural factors have resulted uneven growth of different regions of India.

Inadequacy of Economic Overheads

Economic overheads like transport and communication facilities, power, technology, banking and insurance etc. are considered very important for the development of a particular region.  Due to adequacy of such economic overheads, some regions are getting a special favour in respect of settlement of some developmental projects whereas due to inadequacy of such economic overheads, some regions of the country, viz., North-Eastern Region, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar etc. remained much backward as compared to other developed regions of the country.

Failure of Planning Mechanism

Although balanced growth has been accepted as one of the major objectives of economic planning in India, since the Second Plan onwards but it did not make much headway in achieving this object. Rather, in real sense, planning mechanisms has enlarged the disparity between the developed states and less developed states of the country.  In respect of allocating plan outlay relatively developed states get much favour than less developed states.

From First Plan to the Seventh Plan, Punjab and Haryana have received the highest per capita plan outlay, all along. The other three states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have also received larger allocation of plan outlays in almost all the five year plans.

On the other hand, the backward states like Bihar, Assam, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have been receiving the smallest allocation of per capita plan outlay in almost all the plans.

Marginalisation of the Impact of Green Revolution to Certain Regions

In India, the green revolution has improved the agricultural sector to a considerable extent through the adoption of new agricultural strategy. But unfortunately the benefit of such new agricultural strategy has been marginalised to certain definite regions keeping the other regions totally untouched.

The Government has concentrated this new strategy to the heavily irrigated areas with the idea to use the scarce resources in the most productive manner and to maximise the production of foodgrains so as to solve the problem of food crisis.

Rural-urban dispariries in India

Rural India comprises 66 per cent of the country’s population, but its share in the total national income is currentty about 45 per cent. Rural India is characterized by low income levels, poor quality of life and a weak base of human development. Ruralurban divide is quite apparent in all spheres of human life. What worries most the policy planners is that the magnitude of disparity has accentuated during the post-reform period due to change in the income growth trajectories of rural and urban areas. The growing rural-urban divide may have far-reaching economic, social and political ramifications. It is, therefore, essential to examine the extent of this divide and draw inferences for policy interventions for its rectification.



Education Disparity

Rural areas are highly disadvantaged in all components of human development. For instance, mean years of schooling is much longer in urban areas than in rural areas, not to mention the difference in the quality of education imparted. Further, fees paid by the rural poor for education are an extremely high percentage of their cash income which not only severely limit the schooling chances of the rural children, but also exacerbates other inequalities, in particular leading to lower access for girls to even primary education. Moreover, as educational institutions, especially institutions of professional and higher learning, are located in urban areas, rural people, already limited in terms of economic well being, have to bear additional expenses for boarding and lodging to send their children to such institutions. Therefore, other things remaining same. cost of education to students from rural areas is much higher that of their counterparts in urban areas.

Healthcare Disparity

Although health indicators have continued to improve over time, villages are far behind the towns and cities in case of healthcare facilities and their outcomes The major part of the healthcare facilities in rural areas are provided by the unqualified and untrained medical professionals. Most of the public hospitals and dispensaries are located in urban areas and almost all private clinics and nursing homes are in the urban areas.


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