Why do Urban and Rural Indians have such different priorities?

The farmers' movement is the first time, the rural population has risen against the insensitive regime   
farmers protest
Image: Karuna John / SabrangIndia
The farmers’ movement has brought into sharp focus that India is actually divided into two countries. One is the mighty sprawling urban India where all the fortunate live, spoiled by consumerism and wanting more and more at the cost of others. The other is the weak scattered rural population… grappling with poverty, hunger, malnutrition and unemployment, and demanding basic education and health facilities since 1947. In 73 years of Independence, the rural population has been denied even the ultimate basic necessity of clean drinking water!

For the first time, the rural population has risen against the insensitive government in the form of village farmers protesting the one-sided Farm Laws, and telling the rulers to get their act together. The farmers are declaring that: We toil and till the land with our sweat and thus feed the vast population of this country, and the least you can do is to stop telling us that the Farm Laws are for our benefit. Don’t call us Khalistanis or terrorists because if we stop farming you will not survive. You have no tears for the more than 3,00,000 farmers that have died by suicide over the years, and more than 130 farmers have died during this recent ongoing protest but you shed a lot of tears for the earnings fall of your dear Corporates or for sliding GDP.

Our Father of the Nation warned us in 1948 with these prophetic words :

“Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?”

Merely placing flowers in Rajghat on his birthday and martyrdom day was not Mahatma’s message. He was Mahatma for and of the poor and deprived.

We are ready to lower taxes and give tax breaks to the urban population and the rich community, but not increased subsidies to the toiling farmers. Compare this with other countries who promote farming, not kill it.


Government Subsidy to Agricultural Sector (2019)


Subsidy US$


185.9 Billion


101.3 Billion


48.9 Billion


37.6 Billion


29.4 Billion


20.8 Billion


11.0 Billion

                                                                                                                                         Source : Tradevistas

The Migrant crisis during this Covid-19 pandemic and continuous lockdown, has shown us the underbelly of our pseudo-development model. Globalisation and so-called liberalisation has benefitted a few at the top and the vast majority at the bottom of the pile have waited patiently for the promised trickle-down effect which never came in the last thirty years. Vast technological progress has not resulted in equitable distribution of wealth; rather it has converted a human being into a number to be manipulated, shadowed and controlled by a heartless technology. This globalisation has reduced the vast majority as a statistical entity whose only purpose in life is to serve the fortunate and powerful few. This is slavery of the worst kind, since the slave is brain-washed to feel that he is serving a noble purpose.

It would be pertinent to remember, in these turbulent times, what Mahatma Gandhi had suggested in the 1940’s for making rural India as the centerpiece of planning and growth.

“I am convinced that if India is to attain true freedom and through India the world also, then sooner or later the fact must be recognized that people will have to live in villages, not in towns, in huts, not in palaces.

My idea of Village Swaraj is that it is a complete Republic, independent of its neighbours for its own vital wants, and yet interdependent for many others in which dependence is a necessity. Thus every village’s first concern will be to grow its own food crops and cotton for its cloth. It should have a reserve for its cattle, recreation and playground for adults and children. Then if more land is available, it will grow useful money crops. The village will maintain a village theatre, school and public hall. It will have its own waterworks ensuring clean water supply. This can be done through controlled wells or tanks. Education will be compulsory up to the final basic course. As far as possible every activity will be conducted on the co-operative basis.

No one under it should suffer for want of food and clothing. We should be ashamed of resting or having a square meal so long as there is one able-bodied man or woman without work or food.”

The wide gulf existing between the urban and rural population even after 73 years of independence proves that we are more concerned for our city population than our simple living uneducated rural human beings. It explains how quick we are ready to spend crores over new Parliament building, bullet train, smart cities, modernising airports, etc. but would rather not divert any budgetary support to build schools, hospitals, provide drinking water and electricity to villages in India. Much has been made of village electrification in India proclaiming that almost all Indian villages have been electrified. Of course electric poles may have been erected and wires stretched but there is no current flowing through them.

The disparity between urban and rural development has been sharply focused by Mr. Avay Shukla in a revealing article titled ‘The Day Bharat came calling on India’ as given below –

S. No.





Wealth Growth

102 billionaires

330,000 high net worth individuals

200 million hungry

40% children malnutrition

Over 3,00,000 suicides due to debt


Expenditure on smart cities




Doctors and hospital beds




During Pandemic

100 billionaires increased their wealth by 400 billion dollars

120 million, mainly migrants, lost jobs


Per capita income

Rs. 98435

Rs. 40924


Monthly household expenditure

Rs. 2630

Rs. 1430





Through the decentralisation of power and the investment emphasis on the rural sector, we can invert the existing pyramid so that the poor, deprived and neglected, become our prime concern, and real development indices relate to the well-being of this section of society. It is of no consequence if the rich get richer; it is important that the bottom is offered a life of purpose and happiness. The equality and equity will not then remain merely a slogan.

Rural India is crying for help and the Farmers’ Agitation is a result of this neglect. The test of real leadership is that it hears these complaints and acts according to the will of the population which it is supposed to represent. The silence from this Government is deafening.

*The author is convener of Jharkhand Nagrik Prayas

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