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Problems and Challenges in Rural Areas

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Abstract

The main objective of this research paper is to acquire an understanding of problems and challenges in rural areas. The occurrence of these problems and challenges not only impose detrimental effects upon the living conditions of the individuals, but also impose barriers within the course of their progression. The major problems that have been identified are, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and crime and violence. Poverty is the condition, when the individuals experience scarcity of resources that are necessary to sustain their living conditions appropriately. Illiteracy is when individuals do not possess the basic literacy skills of reading, writing and numeracy. Due to lack of literacy skills, they certainly experience problems in the implementation of tasks and activities. Unemployment is, when individuals do not have any job or work. Homelessness is a condition, when they do not have proper housing accommodation. In rural communities, it is unfortunate that women and girls are the ones, who in most cases experience criminal and violent acts. These include, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual harassment, neglect and discriminatory treatment. Therefore, in order to alleviate these problems and enhance the livelihoods opportunities of rural individuals, there have been formulation of measures and programs that have the main objective of promoting well-being of rural individuals.
Problems and Challenges in Rural Areas
Dr. Radhika Kapur
Abstract
The main objective of this research paper is to acquire an understanding of problems
and challenges in rural areas. The occurrence of these problems and challenges not only
impose detrimental effects upon the living conditions of the individuals, but also impose
barriers within the course of their progression. The major problems that have been identified
are, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and crime and violence. Poverty is the
condition, when the individuals experience scarcity of resources that are necessary to sustain
their living conditions appropriately. Illiteracy is when individuals do not possess the basic
literacy skills of reading, writing and numeracy. Due to lack of literacy skills, they certainly
experience problems in the implementation of tasks and activities. Unemployment is, when
individuals do not have any job or work. Homelessness is a condition, when they do not have
proper housing accommodation. In rural communities, it is unfortunate that women and girls
are the ones, who in most cases experience criminal and violent acts. These include, verbal
abuse, physical abuse, sexual harassment, neglect and discriminatory treatment. Therefore, in
order to alleviate these problems and enhance the livelihoods opportunities of rural
individuals, there have been formulation of measures and programs that have the main
objective of promoting well-being of rural individuals.
Keywords: Challenges, Crime and Violence, Homelessness, Illiteracy, Poverty,
Problems, Rural Areas, Unemployment
Problems and challenges are integral to the existence of the individuals as well as the
communities. In rural areas, individuals and communities are experiencing number of
problems and challenges, which are proving to be major impediments within the course of
meeting livelihoods opportunities. The major problems are, poverty, illiteracy,
unemployment, homelessness and crime and violence. The individuals get effected by either
one or more of these problems, which are having unfavourable consequences within their
overall quality of lives. Poverty is characterized by lack of resources, when the individuals do
not possess adequate financial resources, they are unable to fulfil their needs and
requirements. The prevalence of illiteracy is common among rural individuals, apart from
poverty, there are number of causes, leading to illiteracy. Lack of literacy skills, education
and awareness leads to an increase in unemployment. Homelessness among rural individuals
takes place due to unaffordable housing, when they lose property, wealth and housing due to
the occurrence of natural calamities and disasters and so forth. Prevalence of crime and
violence is common in households as well as in other places, such as, schools, market places
and so forth.
There have been implementation of policies and programs by the government and
organizations that have the major objective of promoting well-being of rural communities.
Building of capacities and skills among stakeholders for promoting success of the program is
considered as an indispensable factor, which is crucial for the success of the program. The
component of capacity building is considered to be an inadequate link of most of the rural
development programs. Since the stakeholders are not being equipped with knowledge,
information, awareness, skills and attitudes that are required for the successful
implementation of the program (Chapter – V. Emerging Issues in Rural Development, n.d.).
The organizations, agencies, individuals, and communities, that are working towards the
implementation of programs, policies and strategies to promote welfare of the rural
individuals and communities, need to possess adequate awareness in terms of problems and
challenges. Furthermore, apart from possession of skills and abilities, they need to possess the
attitude that would enable them to accomplish the desired goals and objectives.
Poverty
India comprises of one-thirds of the poverty stricken individuals. Indian poverty is
primarily rural. In rural communities, landless labourers and casual workers are the
individuals, who are residing in the conditions of poverty. The individuals, who are required
to experience unfavourable effects as a result of poverty are, scheduled castes, scheduled
tribes, the families, in which women are the heads, elderly individuals and children. The
conditions of poverty among rural communities are characterised by lack of financial
resources, land, assets, property and other resources. Due to lack of these resources, the
individuals experience problems in sustaining their livelihoods in an appropriate manner. The
vast majority of the poverty stricken individuals are employed in the agriculture sector,
farming practices, and other activities, such as, animal husbandry, fisheries and so forth
(Chapter – 2. Rural Poverty in India, n.d.).
Poverty is considered to be a complex phenomenon. It manifests itself within the
range of overlapping and interlinked political, economic and social deprivations. These
include shortage of assets, monetary resources, malnutrition, social and economic hardships,
unawareness, backwardness, discrimination and incapability. The living conditions of these
individuals are also in a deprived state. This is apparent that when the individuals will not
possess adequate resources, then they would not be able to meet their livelihoods
opportunities in an appropriate manner. Poverty stricken individuals belonging to rural
communities usually migrate to urban areas in search for better opportunities. In urban areas
too, they are either residing in urban slums or are homeless, as they cannot afford housing
accommodation. Hence, it can be stated that the conditions of poverty are proving to be
disadvantageous to the individuals to a major extent (Chapter – 2. Rural Poverty in India,
n.d.).
Causes of Poverty
The major causes of poverty in rural communities have been stated as follows:
Unemployment – Unemployment is the condition, when the individuals are not
engaged in any work or occupation, either within their homes or outside the home. This is
apparent that individuals get engaged in employment opportunities to generate income.
Therefore, when they are unemployed, they would not be able to generate a source of income
and as a result would experience poverty. When the individuals are unemployed and do not
possess sufficient financial resources to meet the living requirements of their families, then
there is prevalence of the conditions of poverty among them.
Participation in Minority Jobs – The agriculture and farming practices are regarded as
the major occupations of the individuals in rural communities. Apart from these, they are
engaged in activities, such as, fisheries, animal husbandry, production and manufacturing of
handicrafts, and so forth. These jobs are regarded as minority jobs, which do not generate
much income. In some cases, they are even required to wait for the season, when the demand
for their products would be high and they would market their produce. Throughout the year,
they are making use of materials to manufacture their products and have to experience
poverty.
Illiteracy and Unawareness – When the individuals do not possess the basic literacy
skills of reading, writing and arithmetic and are unaware of certain aspects, particularly the
ones, which are required to sustain better livelihoods, then they experience poverty. Lack of
literacy skills are regarded as major impediments within the course of taking up any work or
employment. When the individuals are illiterate and unaware, then they would experience
barriers in even marketing their products. Hence, when they are unable to get engaged in any
occupation, due to illiteracy and unawareness, then they ultimately experience poverty.
Occurrence of Natural Calamities and Disasters – The occurrence of natural
calamities and disasters, such as, earthquakes, floods, draughts, Tsunamis are detrimental to
the lives of the individuals to a great extent. As a consequence, the individuals experience
immense loss of life, wealth and property. Therefore, when they experience natural calamities
and disasters, then loss of wealth and property causes poverty.
Inadequate Financial Management – Rural individuals mostly are illiterate and
unaware. They do not possess adequate knowledge in terms of effective management of
finances. In some cases, they do not make savings and investments and spend the available
monetary resources on things, which are not necessary. Hence, when they do not make
savings or investments in meaningful schemes, then they experience scarcity of funds, at the
time of need. Hence, inadequate financial management leads to prevalence of poverty.
Borrowing Loans – When the rural individuals borrow loans from the moneylenders,
and when they are unable to repay the loans, then they may end up as being bonded
labourers. The bonded labourers usually are required to work long hours and get either very
less pay or no pay at all. When they work hard, just for the purpose of repaying the loans,
then they are unable to generate income to sustain the living conditions of themselves and
their families. The ultimate outcome is poverty.
Large Families – In rural communities, individuals mostly have large families. In one
nuclear family, there are usually more than two children. Whereas, in some cases, there are
even up to six children in a family. When the individuals are engaged in the agriculture sector
or farming practices, or in other occupations, then their income is not sufficient to meet the
needs and requirements of all family members, hence, when they experience scarcity of
funds, then they are unable to meet the needs and requirements of all family members and
have to experience poverty.
Health Care Needs – The rural individuals, belonging to all age groups and
backgrounds pay adequate attention towards their health conditions. The elderly individuals
are required to make visits to health care centres on a regular basis to get their check-ups
done. But in the case of severe health problems and illnesses, individuals are even required to
make visits to urban areas. When the individuals spend their savings on medical treatment,
then they do experience financial constraints in meeting other requirements. Hence, taking
care of health care needs may use financial resources, thus giving rise to poverty.
Migration – The rural individuals in most cases, possess the viewpoint that in urban
communities, they would be able to access better livelihoods opportunities. When the poverty
stricken and underprivileged individuals migrate to urban communities, then they experience
poverty. They do not possess adequate resources to obtain housing accommodation and are
homeless, they do not possess the skills to get engaged in any occupation or activity, hence,
experience problems and difficulties within the course of generating a source of income.
Participation in Other Activities – The participation in other activities by the poverty
stricken individuals may augment the conditions of poverty, especially when they incur
losses. In rural areas, apart from agriculture and allied activities, individuals are engaged in
the production of handicrafts, food items and so forth. Hence, when they make investments in
the purchase of materials and in the implementation of production processes and do not incur
much sales, then they experience losses. On the other hand, when the cost price is higher than
the selling price, then they experience losses and are unable to bring about improvements in
their living conditions.
It is vital for the government and other organizations and agencies to put into practice
the policies and programs, which have the main aim of alleviating the conditions of poverty.
On the other hand, the rural individuals too need to generate awareness in terms of causes of
poverty and formulate measures to lead to its alleviation. For instance, schools and training
centres have been established in rural communities, but it is crucial on the part of the
individuals to recognize the significance of education and hone their literacy skills. After the
acquisition of education and augmentation of literacy skills, they should make effective use
of them to alleviate the conditions of poverty and promote better livelihoods opportunities.
Illiteracy
Illiteracy is referred to the inability of the individuals to identify, interpret,
understand, create, communicate, and compute, using printed and written materials,
associated with the varying context. In 1930, the U.S. Bureau of Census defined the person as
an illiterate, who is unable to read and write in any language. By the next census in 1940, the
concept of functional illiteracy was adopted. Any individual with less than five years of
schooling is considered as functionally illiterate. Such individuals would also experience
problems in getting involved in any activity, in which, adequate literacy skills are regarded as
indispensable (Qamar, 2017).
Illiteracy is a social issue that is prevalent among rural individuals, especially
belonging to deprived, marginalized and socio-economically backward sections of the
society. This social problem is not only detrimental upon the lives of the individuals, but
impose impediments within the progression of the entire community. When the rural
individuals are illiterate and do not even possess the basic literacy skills, then they not only
experience problems within the course of implementation of their tasks and activities, but
also remain unaware of their rights and duties. The individuals are unable to understand the
causes of problems and challenges that may take place within the course of their daily lives.
They are unable to acquire employment opportunities. As a result of illiteracy, they also
remain unaware in terms of policies, programs and strategies that have been put into
operation to promote their well-being.
Causes of Illiteracy
In rural communities, there are number of causes that lead to illiteracy among
individuals. These have been stated as follows:
Lack of Financial Resources – Financial resources are regarded as significant,
especially when the individuals are required to get enrolled in schools or training centres. In
Government schools, education is provided free of cost to the children and there is not any
fees. But the individuals are required to incur expenses on bags, books, stationary, uniforms,
transportation and other expenses involved in the acquisition of education. When the
individuals are residing in the conditions of poverty and do not possess adequate financial
resources, then they are unable to meet the expenses that are involved in the acquisition of
education. Hence, as a consequence are required to experience illiteracy.
Parental Illiteracy – Lack of literacy skills on the part of parents is also regarded as
one of the major causes of illiteracy among children. When the parents are illiterate, then they
possess this viewpoint that their children, especially girls should also be discouraged from
getting enrolled in schools. Instead, they should remain within homes and be trained in terms
of implementation of household responsibilities. This viewpoint is the major cause of the
prevalence of illiteracy among rural children, especially girls. On the other hand, boys are
usually enrolled in schools and also engaged in jobs to supplement family income. The male
children are enrolled in schools, as their parents possess the viewpoint that acquisition of
education would enable them to get engaged in good employment opportunities and enhance
family status.
Lack of Educational Facilities – In rural communities, the system of education is not
in a well-developed state. The school environmental conditions are not amiable and suitable
to the needs and requirements of the students as well as other members. In schools, there are
lack of facilities and amenities that are required to facilitate acquisition of education among
students in an appropriate manner. These include, clean drinking water, restrooms, cooling
and heating equipment in accordance to the weather conditions, furniture, teaching-learning
materials and so forth. The classroom environmental conditions do not possess the essential
materials and equipment, which would facilitate learning. Hence, due to lack of educational
facilities, teachers and students experience problems in the implementation of teaching-
learning methods.
Lack of Teaching-Learning Methods – The teaching-learning methods and
instructional strategies are not in an appropriate form in rural schools. The teachers need to
put into operation, the teaching-learning methods and instructional strategies in accordance to
the needs and requirements of the students. They need to be aware of what methods would be
suitable in accordance to the subjects and class standards. For instance, when students are
able to acquire an adequate understanding through giving verbal explanations and notes, then
the teachers need to provide verbal explanations as well as notes. But lack of proper teaching-
learning methods and instructional strategies is one of the major causes of illiteracy.
Lack of Interest in Studies – Learning academic concepts is not easy. In the pursuance
of academic goals, students are required to pay adequate attention and get engaged in
continuous practice. When they are unable to pay adequate attention towards their studies or
when are unable to obtain assistance in acquiring an efficient understanding of the academic
concepts, then they usually experience setbacks. Students usually lack interest in their
studies, when they do obtain the desired academic outcomes. In rural schools, normally
students experience problems in obtaining help as well, either from teachers or fellow
students. As a consequence, they are unable to pursue academic goals and ultimately drop out
from schools.
Transportation Problems – In rural areas, mostly schools are located at a distance
from home. When the students experience problems in transferring to schools, then they are
unable to pursue academic goals. It has been researched upon that girls normally experience
problems in transferring to schools and are depended upon their family members. In the case
of transportation problems, parents are vested with the responsibility of taking their children
to school and bringing them back home. When they are able to carry out their responsibilities
in an appropriate manner, then children are able to acquire education. Whereas, when they do
not have family members to provide them assistance in terms of transportation, then they are
unable to acquire education. As a result, they either get discouraged from getting enrolled in
schools or drop out, before their educational skills are honed.
Shortage of Teachers – The primary job duty of the teachers focus upon making
provision of academic knowledge and information to the students. Apart from academic
knowledge, they need to generate awareness among students in terms of various aspects in
order to facilitate their effective growth and development. In rural schools, shortage of
teachers is the major problem that is also a primary concern in the development of the system
of education. When the schools will not recruit qualified and experienced teachers, then
certainly there would be occurrence of impediments in the achievement of academic goals.
When there are shortage of teachers in schools, then it also leads to a decline in the enrolment
of students.
Engagement in Employment Opportunities – Rural individuals are usually residing in
the conditions of poverty to a major extent. They have the primary objective of alleviating the
conditions of poverty. Due to this, they give more preference to employment opportunities.
From the stage of early childhood, they train their children to get engaged in various forms of
employment opportunities in accordance to their skills and abilities. For instance, when they
are in family business, then they provide training to their children in terms of production
processes. Whereas, in other cases, children are involved in other jobs as well, such as,
plantations, factories, industries and so forth. Hence, due to engagement in employment
opportunities, they are unable to get enrolled in schools and pursue education.
Child Labour – In India, there has been prevalence of child labour. The individuals,
belonging to deprived, marginalized and socio-economically backward sections of the society
are the ones, who mostly encourage their children to get engaged in various forms of labour
practices, thus depriving them from acquisition of education. The children are even engaged
in hazardous occupations, including diamond polishing, gem cutting, silk weaving, beedi
rolling, plantations, agriculture, lock industries and so forth. To carry out their job duties
appropriately in these areas, it is vital for them to possess adequate knowledge and acquire
proper training. The children are usually employed in these industries and factories on a full-
time basis. Therefore, they are unable to hone their literacy skills.
Social Disputes – In rural communities, social and cultural disputes normally take
place with regards to education of girls. The individuals, primarily the ones, who are poverty
stricken and belong to economically weaker sections of the society, usually possess the
viewpoint that girls are liabilities. They have to eventually get married and go to their marital
homes. If they are educated, they would not be able to make use of their educational skills in
any manner, the reason being, they need to carry out the household chores. Due to the
prevalence of this viewpoint, girls are discouraged from getting enrolled in schools and are
trained regarding the implementation of household responsibilities. This social dispute is the
major cause for a high rate of illiteracy among girls.
To alleviate the problem of illiteracy, it is vital to put into operation the policies, and
programs with regards to improvements in the system of education. In addition, there should
be improvements made in the teaching-learning methods, instructional strategies,
infrastructure and facilities and transportation. The rural individuals need to bring about
changes in their viewpoints, especially regarding the education of girls. They need to
understand that girls and women too can bring about improvements in the livelihoods
opportunities of their families and communities, when they are provided with opportunities.
Children should get enrolled in schools and parents should create an amiable environment
within home that would help the individuals to hone their educational skills.
Unemployment
Unemployment is referred to as the state, when individuals are not engaged in any
form of work or occupation or task, primarily to generate a source of income. When the
individuals are jobless and idle, then they are stated to be unemployed. In rural communities,
the problem of unemployment is severe among the individuals. When they are unemployed,
they experience number of problems and challenges, which are regarded as major barriers
within the course of attainment of better livelihoods opportunities. When the rural individuals
are unemployed and are struggling to make ends meet, then they are continuously looking for
employment opportunities or means to generate a source of income. When the individuals are
looking for employment opportunities, they need to ensure that they possess adequate skills
and abilities to put into practice their job duties in a well-organized manner.
When searching for employment opportunities, the individuals need to take into
consideration number of factors. These are pay and reimbursements, location of the
workplace, working environmental conditions, job duties, other members within the
workplace, possession of qualifications, skills and abilities, organizational goals and
objectives, family and household responsibilities, availability of materials and equipment
within the workplace, especially required in the implementation of job duties and terms and
relationships with the other individuals within the working environment. When the
individuals feel that these factors are satisfying to the individuals, then they get engaged in
jobs. Whereas, when any of these factors are not satisfying, then the individuals experience
problems in looking for employment opportunities.
Causes of Unemployment
The major causes of unemployment have been stated as follows:
Increased Education Expectations – In the present existence, there has been an
increase in education expectations, especially in terms of reputed jobs in organizations (Das,
2018). Well-paid and reputed jobs require the individuals to possess educational
qualifications of Bachelors, masters or doctorate. When the individuals are illiterate and do
not possess the basic literacy skills, then it is apparent that they are unable to meet the
education expectations. Hence, inability to meet the increased education expectations is an
impediment within the course of acquisition of employment opportunities.
Lack of Basic Literacy Skills – Basic literacy skills are the skills of reading, writing
and numeracy. When the individuals lack the basic literacy skills, then too they experience
problems within the course of implementation of household responsibilities, as well as in
carrying out other tasks and activities. When the individuals are making purchases of items
from the market, then too they need to possess the basic literacy skills, especially in making
monetary transactions and analysing usefulness of the product. In rural communities,
individuals usually lack the basic literacy skills, which are barriers within the course of
acquisition of employment opportunities.
Family and Household Responsibilities – The implementation of family and
household responsibilities usually require the individuals to put in all their time and effort,
that they are unable to get engaged in any employment opportunities. This usually applies to
women and girls. They are trained from the initial stage in terms of management of
household responsibilities. These include, cleaning, washing, preparation of meals, fetching
water, rearing of livestock and looking after the needs and requirements of younger siblings,
and elderly family members. Therefore, when women and girls are engaged in family and
household responsibilities, then they are unable to participate in employment settings.
Decent Work Deficit – Decent work deficit is referred to shortage of employment
opportunities, which are civilized and ethical and which require the individuals to make use
of their skills and abilities in an appropriate manner. The rural individuals aspire to get
engaged in decent work. Lack of education among them is a major cause of occurrence of
problems in acquiring reputed employment opportunities. But they possess the skills and
abilities to get engaged in minority jobs, such as cleaning, domestic labour, construction work
etc. In some cases, they are able to obtain work in domestic households, offices or other
places, but in others, they experience decent work deficit, which causes unemployment.
Lack of Information – The employment of rural individuals in the agriculture sector
and farming practices do not generate much income for the agricultural labourers and
farmers, especially landless and marginal farmers. The income is primarily meant to sustain
their living conditions in an appropriate manner. Hence, it is vital for individuals to look for
employment opportunities to supplement their income. Lack of information regarding various
employment opportunities, programs and schemes that are implemented to promote their
well-being is one of the major barriers within the course of acquisition of employment
opportunities.
Health Problems and Illnesses – The individuals are required to maintain their good
health and well-being to get engaged in any task or activity. Due to the prevalence of the
conditions of poverty, individuals experience malnutrition and health problems and illnesses.
In case of health problems and illnesses, the individuals are unable to get engaged in any
tasks or activities, or look for employment opportunities. The rate of unemployment is mostly
high among the individuals, who experience permanent disabilities or health problems.
Temporary Contracts – Research has indicated that rural households normally send
their children to urban areas to find employment as domestic helpers. In such cases, mostly
they are hired on a contract period of two years. After the completion of their contract period,
they are send back home. The domestic helpers are trained in terms of all household chores,
such as, cleaning, washing, preparation of meals, purchasing groceries and other items from
the marketplace and so forth. In return, they are given pay, food, clothes and in some cases,
even get enrolled in schools to develop academic skills. But after the contract period is over,
they are unemployed. Hence, temporary contracts lead to unemployment.
Skills Mismatch – The individuals are required to possess the essential skills in
accordance to the job requirements. For instance, when an individual is working as a
carpenter, then it is vital for him to possess adequate knowledge in terms of his job and so
forth. When the skills possessed by the individuals are not in accordance to the job
requirements, then they experience problems in looking for jobs. Therefore, it can be stated
that skills mismatch is one of the major causes of unemployment, especially among the
poverty stricken, marginalized and socio-economically backward sections of the society.
Lack of Training for Work – The rural individuals, normally are illiterate and
unskilled. When they are engaged in employment opportunities, then they aspire to obtain
sufficient training and augment their skills and abilities in the implementation of job duties.
But lack of training for work prevents them from honing their skills and abilities, and thus
they are unable to generate the desired academic outcomes. Even though the individuals are
experienced, but when training is provided in terms of employment opportunities, then the
desired academic outcomes can be achieved in a manageable manner. On the other hand, lack
of training for work is an impediment within the course of acquisition of employment
opportunities.
Social Restraints upon Women – In rural communities, as it has been stated above that
social restraints are imposed upon women. They are considered inferior to men and are not
given equal rights and opportunities. The prevalence of discriminatory treatment against
women not only is an impediment within the course of acquisition of literacy, but also within
the course of attainment of employment opportunities. They are compelled to remain within
the households and carry out the household responsibilities. The other social restraints that
have been imposed upon them are, lack of participation in the decision making processes,
social, cultural, political, economic and religious functions and so forth. Hence, these
restraints prevent them from acquiring employment opportunities.
In order to alleviate the problem of unemployment, it is vital to take into
consideration various aspects. These are, formulation of policies and programs, focusing
upon development of skills and generating employment opportunities for the individuals;
making improvements in the system of education and vocational training programs, policies
and measures for controlling the growth of population; generating awareness within rural
youth in terms of utilization of modern and innovative methods and approaches in
agriculture, farming practices and in other tasks, such as production and manufacturing
processes; enabling the individuals to hone their technical skills and appropriate planning
needs to be done, regarding the utilization of human resources. When these aspects are
adequately taken into consideration and measures are formulated to put them into practice in
an appropriate manner, then solutions would be brought about regarding alleviation of
unemployment.
Homelessness
Homelessness in rural India is a relatively hidden and an unknown phenomenon. This
phenomenon is comprehensive and is continuing to grow with the increase in the country’s
population. Homelessness is a condition, when the individuals do not have any form of
shelter or housing accommodation. Homeless individuals are residing in temporary shelters,
pavilions, on the roadside or within homes of friends or relatives. It is regarded as one of the
major problems that individuals experience within the course of acquisition of better
livelihoods opportunities. When the individuals are homeless, they experience problems and
challenges in fulfilling major requirements that are considered imperative in improving the
overall quality of lives. These include, education, employment opportunities, health and well-
being, diet and nutrition, hygiene and sanitation and so forth.
Research has indicated that in rural communities, the rate of homelessness is lower as
compared to urban areas (Wardhaugh, n.d.). The major reason for this is, in rural
communities, individuals are mostly residing in the conditions of poverty and backwardness.
They have the major objective of alleviating the conditions of poverty and bringing about
improvements in their living conditions. In order to achieve this objective, they migrate to
urban communities. When they do not possess adequate resources to obtain a housing
accommodation, they end up being homeless. Lack of secure, permanent and appropriate
shelter leads to homelessness among individuals. The term ‘homeless’ is often replaced by
the term ‘houseless’. Emphasis is put upon those, lacking any form of shelter, rather than the
ones, who do not have a real home.
Typology of Rural Homelessness
The typology of rural homeless individuals have been stated as follows:
Displaced Individuals – The displaced individuals are the individuals, who lose their
homes, as a result of occurrence of natural calamities, disasters, communal riots,
infrastructure development and political conflicts. They usually reside in relief camps, after
becoming homeless for months or even years. The relief camps are established by the
government and other organizations and agencies, with the main purpose of making provision
of help to these individuals (Wardhaugh, n.d.).
Migrants – Migrants are the individuals, who migrate to other regions and cities in
search for better livelihoods opportunities. Poverty and landlessness are the major causes that
lead to migration of the individuals. When the individuals migrate to urban areas, they may or
may not receive assistance in the form of night shelters, food and so forth. In most cases,
when the individuals migrate to urban areas, their families continue to remain in rural areas
(Wardhaugh, n.d.).
Inmates of Institutions – These are the individuals, who are normally affected by
disabilities, illnesses and diseases. They are normally incapacitated and reside by the
roadsides. Apart from the roadside, they are residents of beggar’s settlements or state homes
for beggars. They are normally involved in begging for alms to meet their living
requirements. They experience unfavourable conditions to a major extent (Wardhaugh, n.d.).
Living in Other Households – When rural individuals migrate to urban areas in search
of better employment opportunities, then in some cases, they are able to obtain housing
accommodation within other households. These include, friends, relatives or other
individuals, such as, domestic employers. Within the house of the domestic employers, they
carry out certain job duties and obtain housing accommodation. In some cases, they render
their domestic responsibilities on a full-time basis, whereas, in other cases, they take up
another job and work in domestic households on part-time basis.
Urban Slums – Individuals, residing in urban slums too are regarded as homeless. In
slum areas, the living conditions are in a deprived state. The individuals experience lack of
civic amenities and facilities and are residing in the conditions of poverty. These individuals
are engaged in minority jobs, such as cleaners, sweepers and so forth. Their income is meagre
to sustain their living conditions and as a result are required to experience severe poverty.
Itinerant Groups – Itinerant groups are the ones, who do not have a fixed location.
These individuals are normally religious mendicants or gypsy groups. These individuals
normally travel from one place to another in search for opportunities to improve their
livelihoods. Officially, they are not regarded as homeless and due to this, they are not eligible
for any assistance. They are usually dependent upon non-government organizations or
informal assistance (Wardhaugh, n.d.).
Causes of Rural Homelessness
The major causes of homelessness are, poverty, landlessness, natural calamities and
disasters, wars, communal riots and political conflicts (Wardhaugh, n.d.). Poverty is regarded
as one of the major causes that imposes barriers upon individuals to obtain adequate
livelihoods opportunities. The individuals residing in the conditions of poverty experience
lack of resources, which are necessary for an effective living. Influenced by the conditions of
poverty, when individuals are unable to afford housing accommodation, then they end up
being homeless. Landlessness is the state, when the individuals do not possess land or
property, which they can effectively make use of to make provision of adequate and secure
housing. The occurrence of natural calamities and disasters, such as, earthquakes, Tsunamis,
floods and so forth, cause immense loss of life and property. When the effects of natural
calamities and disasters are experienced on a large extent, then the individuals end up losing
their homes and become homeless. The occurrence of wars, communal riots and political
conflicts also render an important contribution in leading to an increase in homelessness
among individuals. The occurrence of these situations, not only lead to loss of life, but
individuals lose their housing and property as well.
Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY)
Indira Awaas Yojana is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Rural Development. IAY
is the largest and the most comprehensive rural housing program that has ever been put into
operation within the country. It has its origin in the wage employment programs of the
National Rural Employment Program (NREP), (1980) and the Rural Landless Employment
Guarantee Program (RLEGP), which was initiated in 1983. Construction of houses in rural
communities was the main objective of this scheme. It has been making provision of
assistance to the families, who are living below poverty line (BPL). These individuals are
either homeless, or they have inadequate housing facilities for constructing a safe and a
durable shelter. This effort has been part of the larger strategy of the Ministry in the
alleviation of poverty and assisting in the development of environmentally appropriate
habitats with adequate provisions in alleviation of the problem of homelessness. Making
provision of housing accommodation is one of the major aspects in alleviating poverty (Indira
Awaas Yojana, 2013).
India’s Ministry of Rural Development has undertaken the IAY as part of the Bharat
Nirman undertaking to improve rural infrastructure. The IAY program has been implemented
to make provision of rural housing to the individuals and to replace the kutcha i.e. inadequate
housing. The intended recipients of this accommodation in most cases belong to the
marginalized, underprivileged and economically weaker sections of the society (Wardhaugh,
n.d.).
Under the IAY scheme, around 11.5 million rural houses were built in between 1985
and 2004. They are designed to provide new housing accommodation to the individuals as
well as replace kutcha housing. The primary recipients of this scheme are the individuals,
living below poverty line and economically weaker sections of the society. The main
objective of Bharat Nirman program was to end homelessness in rural India. During the first
four years, there has been establishment of 7.176 million houses. Furthermore, measures were
formulated to build 12 million houses, during the first five years from 2009-2010 to
accommodate 54 million individuals (Wardhaugh, n.d.).
Kutcha and Pucca Housing
Kutcha is a hindi term, which means temporary or which has not been built in an
appropriate manner. Whereas, pucca means of good quality or something that is of reliable
quality. In the establishment of kutcha houses, the materials that are made use of are not of
good quality and the methods of construction have also not been put into operation in an
appropriate manner. On the other hand, in pucca housing, the materials and the construction
processes that have been implemented are of appropriate standard. In the case of occurrence
of natural disasters, kutcha houses get affected easily, whereas, pucca houses may not get
effected easily. The problem of homelessness is a major barrier not only within the course of
progression of individuals, but country as a whole. Hence, policies and schemes need to be
implemented to build pucca housing accommodation, particularly in rural areas.
Crime and Violence
In rural communities, there have been prevalence of criminal and violent acts. All
individuals, irrespective of gender, age, caste, creed, race, religion, ethnicity and socio-
economic background have been victims of crime and violence. The major cause behind the
prevalence of these acts is poverty. The individuals residing within the conditions of poverty,
normally lack the resources, which are needed to promote better livelihoods opportunities.
When they experience problems and impediments within the course of fulfilment of their
daily requirements, then they get prone to crime and violence. Inability of the individuals to
sustain their living conditions in an appropriate manner, usually arouse the feelings of anger
and frustration among them. Due to these attitudes, they get involved in criminal and violent
acts, within as well as outside the home.
In rural communities, girls and women are the ones, who get subjected to abuse and
mistreatment more as compared to their male counterparts. The birth of the girl child is still
not appreciated and preference is given to male children. Girls are regarded as liabilities, and
families, primarily belonging to underprivileged, deprived and socio-economically backward
sections of the society possess the viewpoint that they would make demands and not yield
any returns upon investment. Hence, they are discouraged from acquisition of education,
trained from the initial stage in terms of implementation of household responsibilities and are
get married. On the other hand, more attention is paid towards the male children, particularly,
their education, health, diet and nutrition, participation in other activities, making of
important decisions and so forth. Therefore, in this manner, girls and women experience
neglect and discriminatory treatment. They are not given equal rights and opportunities as
compared to the males. In some cases, they usually carry out their daily routine in the
management of household responsibilities and are discouraged from participating in any tasks
and activities.
Types of Crime and Violence
The various types of crime and violence normally are classified into five categories,
violent interpersonal crimes, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, trafficking and
exploitation; property crimes, including theft and robbery and crimes against women,
including sexual harassment, dowry deaths, domestic violence, rape and acid attacks.
Verbal Abuse – Verbal abuse is the form of abuse which involves making use of
obscene language, meant to degrade the individuals. This form of abuse is prevalent within
the household, among family members as well as outside the household. This abuse does not
cause any physical injury, but has a negative influence upon the mind-sets of the individuals.
It normally involves name-calling, blame, criticism, with-holding, isolation, condescension,
manipulation, degradation, arguments and threats. It is usually believed that harsh words
leave a scar upon the mind-sets of the individuals, particularly the ones, who experience
them. Therefore, it is stated that severe verbal abuse has a major impact upon the
psychological well-being of the individuals.
Physical Abuse – Physical abuse is the form of abuse, which involves physically
hurting the person. In some cases, men and boys too experience this form of abuse, but girls
and women usually, experience this form of abuse in their marital as well as natal homes. The
various forms of physical abuse include, beating, pushing, hitting with an object, shaking,
force feeding, kicking, strangling, choking, denying of food, physically restraining, pinning
against the wall, reckless driving or inflicting burns. When the individuals experience
physical abuse, then they not only experience injuries and hurt, physically but also
psychologically. Experiencing major extent of physical abuse also contribute in
incapacitating the individuals to get involved in the implementation of any tasks or activities.
TraffickingTrafficking among women and children have been a major concern, both
nationally and internationally. In India, there has been an increase in trafficking of women
and children. The prevalence of conditions of poverty are stated to be the major cause. The
professional criminals, who are involved in trafficking, often lure women and children of
employment opportunities and prosperous lives. Hence, due to conditions of poverty,
illiteracy and unawareness, they give their consent and send their children. Mostly, women
and children, who experience trafficking are kidnapped and sold. They are beaten, burned,
deprived of food and rest, are made to work long hours and are required to undergo various
unfavourable consequences, augmenting misery and pain.
Exploitation – Exploitation is the form of criminal act, which normally both men and
women experience. It is carried out by individuals upon others, against their consent. In rural
communities, women and girls are the ones, who are exploited more as compared to males.
They are compelled to get involved in the implementation of tasks and activities, which they
may not be willing to perform. For instance, they are compelled to prepare meals and carry
out other household chores, against their desires. Elderly individuals also experience financial
exploitation. When the individuals are unable to get engaged in any jobs or work and earn
income, then they may exploit their elderly parents in terms of financial resources.
Theft and Robbery – Theft and robbery are the acts that are prevalent among the
individuals, belonging to deprived, marginalized and socio-economically backward sections
of the society. These involve, stealing, burglary, shop-lifting, and larceny. The individuals
may commit these acts in terms of valuables, jewellery and finances or in obtaining basic
necessities, such as, food or water. The major causes for the involvement of individuals in
theft and robbery are poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. When they are illiterate and
unskilled, due to which they are required to undergo challenges and problems in finding
employment opportunities. On the other hand, lack of resources needed in the sustenance of
their living conditions, compel them to get involved in the acts of theft and robbery.
Sexual Harassment – Sexual harassment is referred to the gross violation of the rights
of women to equality and dignity. This form of criminal act is usually experienced by women
within the workplace. When women are involved in various forms of employment
opportunities, then they are not given equal rights as the male counterparts. In terms of
wages, they are discriminated against. They are given less wages as compared to men, for the
same work performed. In order to alleviate sexual harassment, there are formulation of
policies and programs, which have the main objective of treating women with respect and
dignity and providing them equal rights and opportunities.
Dowry Deaths – Dowry is referred to the bride price, which the bride’s family is
required to pay to the groom’s family at the time of marriage. It normally involves giving
financial resources, jewellery and other valuables to the daughter at the time of her marriage.
This is apparent that individuals, belonging to poverty stricken, marginalized and
underprivileged sections of the society experience problems in paying sufficient bride price.
When the groom’s family is unsatisfied with the bride price, then they impose harm and
injuries upon the bride. Dowry deaths involve killing as well as suicide. When the brides are
unable to bear the harassment, then they end up committing suicide.
Domestic Violence – Domestic violence is the violence that is inferred upon women
within the house. The major causes of domestic violence are, possession of feelings of
antagonism and hatred, dowry demands, when women are unable to meet the needs and
requirements of the family members or when the implementation of tasks and activities does
not meet expectations. Verbal abuse of women is common in the case of domestic violence,
but in some cases, women may also experience physical abuse. Among rural households,
domestic violence in most cases takes place over trivial issues, which can be solved
peacefully. The development of feelings of anger and frustration gives rise to domestic
violence.
Rape – Rape is a type of sexual assault, usually involving sexual intercourse. It is
inflicted by one or more persons upon the other person, without the person’s consent. The act
may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or against the person, who
is incapable of valid consent. The women and girls, who are incapable of valid consent, are
unconscious, incapacitated and below the legal age of consent. This is regarded as the major
crime not only against the individuals, but the entire society. It is unfortunate that girls, who
are below 10 years of age are also subjected to rape.
Acid Attacks – Acid attack is referred to throwing of acid upon the individuals, with
the main purpose to mutilate, deface or to kill. Women and girls mostly have been victims of
acid attacks. One of the major causes was, just because they expressed interest and
enthusiasm towards acquisition of good education, getting engaged in employment
opportunities and rejected the marriage proposals of men. Out of the feelings of anger and
frustration, acid was thrown upon these women and they experienced long-term detrimental
consequences. Research has indicated that these women and girls, belonged to the age group
of 15 to 25 years.
The prevalence of crime and violence is regarded as a major impediment within the
course of progression of not only individuals and communities, but also country as a whole.
Women and girls are the ones, who are mostly subjected to these acts. It is vital to formulate
programs and policies to combat crime and violence against women. The individuals need to
bring about changes in their viewpoints and perspectives and make provision of equal rights
and opportunities to girls and women. Furthermore, it is vital to formulate measures to
alleviate the conditions of poverty. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) guarantees 100 days of minimum wage employment to every
rural household (Iyer, & Topalova, 2014). This would help the rural individuals in sustaining
their livelihoods in an improved manner. In addition, they also need to recognize the
significance of education and enhance their academic and literacy skills.
Conclusion
In rural areas, the major problems are, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment,
homelessness and crime and violence. Poverty is the condition, when the individuals do not
possess sufficient financial resources to sustain their living conditions. The major causes of
poverty are, unemployment, participation in minority jobs, illiteracy and unawareness,
occurrence of natural calamities and disasters, inadequate financial management, borrowing
loans, large families, health care needs, migration and participation in other activities.
Illiteracy is the inability of the individuals to identify, interpret, understand, create,
communicate, and compute, printed and written materials. Causes of illiteracy are, lack of
financial resources, parental illiteracy, lack of educational facilities, lack of teaching-learning
methods, lack of interest in studies, transportation problems, shortage of teachers,
engagement in employment opportunities, child labour and social disputes. Unemployment is
the condition, when individuals are not involved in any job or activity, primarily to generate
income. The major causes of unemployment are, increased education expectations, lack of
basic literacy skills, family and household responsibilities, decent work deficit, lack of
information, health problems and illnesses, temporary contracts, skills mismatch, lack of
training for work and social restraints upon women.
The state of homelessness is characterized by lack of housing accommodation or
shelter. The homeless individuals live in various areas, including roadsides, temporary
shelters, or with relatives and friends. These are, displaced individuals, migrants, inmates of
institutions, living in other households, urban slums and itinerant groups. The major causes of
homelessness are, poverty, landlessness, natural calamities and disasters, wars, communal
riots and political conflicts. In rural communities, the various forms of criminal and violent
acts are, verbal abuse, physical abuse, trafficking, exploitation, theft and robbery, sexual
harassment, dowry deaths, domestic violence, rape and acid attacks. Women and girls mostly
experience various forms of crime and violence, within and outside the household. The
difficulties that individuals are required to experience depend upon the extent of these
problems. There have been formulation of measures, policies and programs by the
government, organizations and agencies, which aim to alleviate these problems and facilitate
education, health care and employment opportunities among the individuals.
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