‘Rural India is a goldmine, filled with riches but harvested badly, without any planning, marred with corruption and inefficiencies.’
Well the start of my post is not new. The question is how to go about changing the dynamics of rural India and bringing back its riches.
A few of my learnings are as followings.
1. ‘Make in Village’ and ‘Buy from Village’ –
A paradigm shift to make in villages is a must and a focus in handmade items needs to be developed. As of now, a large part of the products made in villages are clothing and stitching items, followed closely by jewelry and wood products. The finishing of these products is immense and being handmade a lot of focus is on quality, so just don’t buy expensive stuff from large shops and malls but people need to ‘Buy from Village’. Supplement the incomes of the village folk and spread the great Indian movement of quality handcrafted products.
2. Consistency and monitoring –
The Indian folk are hardworking but can easily slip back into their old ways. Once we teach the people a skill, once used correctly and efficiently, wonders are made but if not monitored, the old ways are back to haunt them.
For example – in many villages around Pandhana, MP, the local NGO has built a large number of toilets but they either us it to stash their local alcohol or do not maintain it as a result open defecation is still a nuisance. Initially after spreading the word and teaching people, they do use the toilets but after a while with no monitoring or strict punishment, they return to their former ways. Urban India itself is an example of people spitting on roads but once fines are imposed with strict observance from the authorities,people slowly stop.
3. Reality check, akin to shock treatment –
The reason our education system is of a below-standard, is not just our desire to learn by rote, or our inexperience in the field but how our perception lies within the framework of how corrupt society is or how hard village life is. ‘It is not so’ but we make it so. This is a controversial statement but a statement nonetheless. Many people love their life in the villages, they are content but not how we change their way but modify it is significantly. Remember, if you create employment opportunities in rural India, it is faster to change the mindset. This also helps in constant monitoring, not just the products but the people as well.
4. Product Bundling –
As much a possible, try bundling your products. Try tying up with people and organizations that work in rural India. This not only adds to your products but also creates more opportunities for people. These small add-ons make a huge difference.
5. Giving back to the Village-
Once a product is sold from the Villages, a part of the proceeds must go back to the village, this not only helps in the overall development of the village but teaches the people the need to donate to their village. This is of paramount importance.
These are my learning, this is not new but some of the things I had to modify my learning on and not unlearn anything.