Village industries and small businesses are the backbones of the rural economy in India. They use millions of workers and contribute to the country’s economy. But these enterprises need empowerment to contribute more to the national economy. Need to nurture and support them, but it is essential to force them to modernize and compete.
Over the last decade, the rural economy in India has seen an unprecedented boom. The share of the population that lives in rural areas has increased to 85% from 72% over the same time. Today, over half of India’s 1.3 billion people – more than China’s population – live in villages and small towns. At the same time, the share of the country’s GDP that comes from the rural economy has been increasing.
- India’s rural population is one of the largest globally, yet there is a limitation to their economic opportunities and power. The government has set a goal of increasing the incomes of the rural population by 2022, but how it will achieve this goal is up for debate. One approach is to empower rural entrepreneurs, but this approach is not without its challenges. Over the past few decades, India’s economy has shifted from an agrarian to an urban one, and in doing so, the country’s economy has become centralized.
- The “Make in India” initiative, launched in September 2015, is meant to put India on the global stage as an industrial powerhouse. The initiative seeks to “make” India into a manufacturing hub in its current form. Still, people need to realize that the goal is to build a knowledge economy, not manufacturing. The commitment of the Indian government to improving the quality of life for the rural poor. One of the many ways it plans to achieve this goal is through the development and empowerment of rural entrepreneurs.
- In the 1980s, the government began to encourage entrepreneurship in rural areas to provide a livelihood to all citizens. Yet, until 2011, the Indian government created the National Rural Entrepreneur Programme (NREP), a specific policy for rural entrepreneurship.
Rural economies are the primary source of employment in India. It includes the manufacturing sector, which employs over 25 million people in India. Other sectors, such as agriculture, account for 60 per cent of the country’s total employment. Despite this, the average salary of a rural worker in India is only $0.77 per hour, less than one-third of the national average.
How can the government empower rural entrepreneurs?
One approach is to create jobs and provide opportunities for the millions of young people left behind who don’t have access to employment and live in rural areas. We can achieve the goal by allowing the private sector to invest in rural areas, supporting the development of small and medium enterprises, and creating rural entrepreneurial zones. Another approach is to empower existing rural entrepreneurs, providing them with the necessary tools and resources to help them grow their businesses.
- One of the most effective ways to empower rural entrepreneurs is to provide them with the capital they need to start and grow their businesses. For over a decade, the Indian government has provided concessional loans to aspiring rural entrepreneurs. Under the NREP, aspiring entrepreneurs can apply for grants, loans, and other forms of financial help to help them develop their businesses. The government also provides technical support and training to rural entrepreneurs, which can help them expand their businesses.
- One of the goals of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government is to empower rural entrepreneurs. The government has committed itself to “accelerating the pace of economic development in the country and enabling all Indians to have a fair share in the economic growth and prosperity.” It has also promised to “ensure that all citizens, particularly the poor, the youth, women, and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC/ST), have access to opportunities, including employment, education, healthcare, and financial services.” By empowering rural entrepreneurs, we can achieve these goals.
- The Indian government plans to empower rural entrepreneurs by providing them with funding. The NREP offers grants and loans to rural entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and create jobs. The government also provides funding for other programmes that support the development and empowerment of rural entrepreneurs, such as Skill India and Make in India. The government has set a goal of creating 10 million jobs by 2022, and it hopes that rural entrepreneurs will play a significant role in achieving this goal.
The government’s goal of empowering rural entrepreneurs is a laudable one. The problem is that the government has not defined what it means by “empowering them” or “entrepreneurship”. Instead, the government has focused on creating new jobs and providing basic infrastructure in rural areas. It has given the government a great deal of flexibility in approaching rural empowerment.
Entrepreneurship needs empowerment to transform lives and communities. It needs champions, not critics. It needs support, not scorn. It requires a safe space to grow and flourish, not one under constant attack. It’s finally time to create jobs and opportunities for the millions of young people left behind who don’t have access to employment and live in rural areas.