UPSC Editorial Analysis

Emergence of a Vibrant Rural India

[GS Paper 3 - Indian Economy, Inclusive Growth]


According to the most recent Household Consumption Expenditure Survey (HCES) for 2022-23, India’s rural economy is showing encouraging signals of growth and rising incomes. One of the most striking findings is that rural households’ food expenditure has fallen below 50% of monthly per capita consumption expenditure for the first time.

This major shift away from only meeting basic food needs indicates that rural Indians have increased financial capacity to focus expenditure toward areas such as transportation, medical expenses, and consumer services. The diminishing difference between rural and urban consumption patterns suggests convergence and improved quality of life in the rural hinterlands.

Major Challenges related to Rural India


  • Farmer Debt and Agricultural Distress – Agriculture continues to provide a major section of India’s rural population with a living wage. However, erratic monsoons, a lack of irrigation facilities, limited access to credit, and fluctuating market prices have all contributed to agricultural misery and farmer indebtedness. 
  • Absence of sufficient Funds –  The absence of “Funds, Functions, and Functionaries” (FFF) has long been a problem for PRIs, limiting their ability to function effectively and deliver on their mandates. Insufficient devolution of funding, a lack of clear functional roles, and a scarcity of educated personnel at the grassroots level have frequently contributed to inefficiencies and implementation gaps in rural development programs. 
  • Lack of proper Rural Infra –  Despite efforts to develop rural infrastructure, many communities continue to lack basic facilities like all-weather roads, dependable energy supply, and safe drinking water. In 2023, a parliamentary panel cited the “poor quality” of various roads built under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. 
  • Insufficient access to good Healthcare – Rural communities frequently lack access to excellent healthcare facilities, resulting in poor health outcomes and an increased risk of disease. Despite the fact that 65% of India’s population lives in rural areas, only 25-30% of hospitals are accessible. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-21 found that just 65% of rural households have access to an improved sanitation facility.
  • Challenges with Education – Rural communities continue to experience difficulties in providing quality education, including poor infrastructure, teacher shortages, high dropout rates, and limited access to digital resources. According to the ASER Report 2022, just 38.5% of class 5 pupils in government schools in rural areas can read at the Grade II level, revealing significant learning disparities. 
  • Land Ownership and Gender Gap – In many rural communities, cultural norms and legal barriers hinder women from inheriting or owning property. This disenfranchises them economically and limits their participation in agricultural decision-making, reducing total farm production. 
  • Women in Agriculture – As more men migrate from rural areas to cities in pursuit of work, there has been an increase in the “feminization of agriculture.” Women are increasingly involved in agricultural activities, even managing farms and agricultural operations on their own.

Measures to accelerate Growth of Rural India


  • Promoting Rural Industrialization and Non-Agriculture Employment – Establishing rural industrial parks and clusters focused on agro-processing, handicrafts, and cottage industries that use local resources and skills.
  • Making use of new Technologies – Improve rural broadband access by using novel solutions such as low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite networks and community-based initiatives. Tech Mitras is promoting digital literacy in Panchayats by empowering rural people to use digital technology for education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.
  • Enhancing Rural Healthcare –  Implementing a hub-and-spoke model for rural healthcare, with primary care clinics connected to larger district hospitals via telemedicine and e-healthcare networks. Promoting the use of mobile medical units and community health workers in rural areas to provide preventative care, health education, and sickness detection services.
  • Incorporating Sustainable and Climate Smart Agriculture – Incentivizing the use of precision agriculture technology including remote sensing, soil mapping, and data-driven decision support systems. To improve sustainability and resilience in agriculture, we should promote agroforestry, integrated farming systems, and the use of renewable energy sources.
  • Women-led Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) – Promoting FPOs led by female farmers. These organizations can help women gain more access to loans, inputs, and market connections, allowing them to participate more actively in agricultural decision-making and reap bigger profits.
  • Providing Panchayats with sufficient Finances – Enabling PRIs through proper financial resources, capacity building, and decision-making authority. Encourage participatory rural governance by including local communities, self-help groups, and non-governmental organizations in planning and implementation.
  • Regional Development Plans – Creating regional development plans that incorporate rural and urban areas while encouraging economic linkages and symbiotic growth. Promoting the growth of smart villages and rurban clusters, which combine urban facilities with rural environments.


The recently published HCES findings show a great phase in Rural India with diversified expense patterns pointing towards an increased economic stability among the villagers. However, the proper growth of Rural India  is myriad with challenges like agricultural distress, lack of infrastructure, and educational gaps. Addressing al, these challenges requires a holistic approach with all stakeholders coming together and contributing their part so that the development path of the Rural and Urban India is both in synergy with respect to each other.

SOURCE: The Hindu

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