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While much of urban India has developed a lot in the past decade, rural India, especially rural Bihar has been barely a part of this growth story.

India is a “growth story”, a successful one as many say. Personally, as someone who has been born and brought up in Delhi, this seems to be true. Think about that, in the past decade, Delhi has grown to new heights in every parameter. Be it roads, metro, schools, college, hospitals, training centres, parks and recreational places and whatnot, Delhi has been blessed by development in every possible sphere. Who would have thought a decade ago that one could reach her office at Lodhi Road from her residence at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad in a matter of 30 minutes or so, all thanks to the newly constructed Delhi-Meerut Expressway or could take a hassle-free and safe ride in metro to Jamia from Dwarka? From the opening of new DU colleges to establishments of whole new sectors for residence and commercial purposes in Greater Noida, the National Capital Region is expanding. But is this sight also seen in the rest of the nation? Maybe yes, maybe not. And from the place this article has been written, the answer would perhaps be a big NO.

Caption: The Delhi-Meerut Expressway.
Credits: Aditya Jha

Located in a remote area in district Darbhanga is a village named Ujan. And unlike the development story of the NCR, this place has simply nothing much to boast about. In the past 10 years, the only change that has happened is the construction of the National Highway by the village and improvement in the supply of electricity to the village. For a population of about 6000, this village only has one public primary school, two middle schools and two secondary schools. The schools seem to be functional only on paper because things on the ground are polar to what one would expect in this “major emerging superpower”. Dilapidated structure, poor quality of teaching among others constitute the major problems with such schools. On top of it, each school has been shut since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Urban societies often converse how age-old casteism is still prevalent in Bihar but forget to take into account the inexistent educational infrastructure. The truth is that the evil practise of casteism can’t simply be eradicated given that generations after generations have been deprived of quality education that students elsewhere enjoy.

Caption: A woman passing by the Middle School in Ujan village of Darbhanga.
Credits: Aditya Jha

The healthcare infrastructure is also practically inexistent. In case of any medical emergency, the patient has to be taken to neighbouring towns of Madhubani or to the Darbhanga Medical College, which according to the latest reports isn’t in a great state either. Even though there is a private clinic here, locals say that doctors are hardly present there.

While capitals and metros have seen a huge developmental boost in the past decade, things have been somewhat stagnant in rural places like Ujan. This urban-rural divide should be taken seriously given that 70% of India resides in rural settings. It is shameful enough that even after 7 decades of independence, rural India hasn’t changed much. Lack of basic amenities, poor infrastructure accompanied by massive unemployment which has significantly increased after the pandemic induced lockdowns in cities force these people who have been living here for generations to move to urban cities in search of a better life. Migration is now proving to be a major setback to cities considering the stress on the limited resources in urban India.

Its solution? Shifting our focus to rural India, to improve its infrastructure, to provide its people with quality education and healthcare and with jobs so that they don’t have to shift out of their natural habitat is needed. Rural India has been neglected for a very long time and for us to be “success growth story”, it’s very important to address this elephant in the house.

Aditya Jha is pursuing Psychology from Jamia Millia Islamia.

Edited by: Malaika M Khan

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Written by Aditya Jha

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