India is a land of villages. More than eighty per cent of people live in villages. They depend on agriculture which is their means of livelihood During the period of British occupation of India, the economy of our villages was thrown into utter confusion with the result that the entire mass of population had to content itself with a very low standard of living.

Farm labour became very cheap, and unemployment among villagers was the order of the day. There were a few small scale industries, which too did not find much encouragement, and so even these could not give employment to the people; illiteracy, ignorance and backwardness gradually overpowered them. No one cared to improve their lot. For decades they remained in this state of semi-starvation and backwardness.

With the advent of freedom, things had to change: Villagers are the backbone of a nation. They produce the food upon which we all live. The villages of India had to be given their proper place in the scheme of national reconstruction. Village economy has to be drastically changed. More and better means of employment had to be found for millions of people and opportunities had to be created for making them live a decent and useful life.

So our national government turned its attention to the uplift of villages. We now find that the work of improving a lot of villages is moving forward steadily. Many villages have been modernised Community Development Centres have been opened at various places, agriculture is being modernised and small scale industries are flourishing in places where formerly nothing but backward agricultural activity could be seen.

The most important aspect of village reconstruction is the emphasis that is being laid on the education of the villagers: Thousands of new schools, for boys and girls, have been opened. Adult education centres in some villages are also doing useful work. When all our villagers are educated, they will look after their own interests and the larger interests of the country as a whole.

These benefit of education cannot do them much good if they remain cut off from the neighbouring towns and cities. So villages have to be connected with distant places by new roads and railways. During the period of the Five Year Plans this work of opening means of communication made steady progress.

Now some of our villages have become centres of trade and small-scale industries. Land reform which requires consolidation of small holdings is another feature of village uplift. If no land is given to the tiller of the soil, no progress is possible in the development of the village economy.

Steps have also been taken in this direction. Thousands of families have been rehabilitated on news lands. We may, therefore, confidently hope that, as this process of reform goes on, our villages will be found to be teeming with a new life and showing signs on Prosperity.

Village Panchayats have been put back on their old position of power and prestige: They look to the cleanliness of villages, settle dispute among villagers and perform many other administrative functions. The evils of litigation are discouraged. Villagers are taught to shed their ignorance and backwardness and to work for the prosperity of the land.

Co-operative Societies look to their economic needs and guide them in matters relating to the disposal of their agricultural produce. Many villages in India have been electrified and certain amenities such as radio sets and newspapers have been brought within their reach. Villagers are no longer ignorant of what is happening in the world outside.

This work of village uplift has to go on for many years more: Only when we have brought our villagers to the level of our towns and cities we shall consider our task of village uplift to have been completed. When our villagers are properly improved, we shall feel the pride of having become a civilised nation of the world.

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