Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Rural-Urban Dichotomy And The Continuum


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Rural-Urban Continuum


Central Idea

  • The traditional dichotomy of rural and urban, and the accordingly mandated governance structure, seems inadequate to understand and act upon poverty, undernourishment, education, health, environmental management or even development. There is a need to adopt the notion of urban catchment areas delineated along an urban-rural continuum to understand urban-rural interconnections and address issues related to environment and natural resources management.

What is Rural-Urban Dichotomy?

  • Distinct Division: It is the perception of a clear and distinct division between rural and urban areas, which are seen as two distinct and separate entities.
  • Significant Differences: This dichotomy is based on the assumption that there are significant differences between rural and urban areas in terms of social, economic, and cultural characteristics.
  • Traditional vs modern values: It suggests that rural areas are primarily agricultural, less developed, and have traditional social and cultural values, while urban areas are more developed, industrialized, and have modern values.


The Rural-Urban Continuum

  • The Rural-Urban Continuum is an alternative perspective that acknowledges the existence of intermediate areas that blur the distinction between rural and urban.
  • An intermediate settlement formation exists between the two extremes where rural and urban functions coexist without distinguishable boundaries.
  • Such formations evolve due to interactions of a complex set of geographical, cultural, economic, and historical processes.
  • The transition from rural to urban follows a graded curve of development, and opportunities for social and economic development depend on one’s location along this curve.

Importance of the Rural-Urban Continuum

  • Identification of urban catchment areas delineated along an urban-rural continuum would help understand urban-rural interconnections, which is important for making policy decisions across development sectors and for addressing issues related to environment and natural resources management.

Studies and examples of Rural-Urban Continuum

  • The Desakota Study report:
  • A 2008 report of the Desakota Study Team, Re-imagining the Rural Urban Continuum, was based on studies in eight countries around the world including India.
  • Team’s report in 2008 emphasized understanding the changing relationship between ecosystems and livelihoods under diversified economic systems across the rural-urban continuum as it has important policy implications at all levels.
  • In India, Kerala for instance:
  • Kerala is well known for the rural-urban continuum in the coastal plain. This was noted even by Moroccan traveller Ibn Batuta in the 14th century. The trend further spread over the lowlands and adjoining midlands and highlands.
  • Geographical factors supported by affirmative public policy promoting distributive justice and decentralisation have increased rural-urban linkages and reduced rural-urban differences in major parts of Kerala.
  • The urban industrial interaction in India is spreading rapidly: The urban industrial interaction fields in India are spreading by linking rural areas and also small towns around the mega cities and urban corridors penetrating rural hinterlands.


Dissolving the boundaries and barriers

  • Technology and globalization led connectivity: Technology and economic globalization have increased mobility of resources and people and enhanced inter- and intra-country connectivity, promoting the rural-urban continuum.
  • Physical distance barriers are melting: The barriers due to physical distance are melting as increasing rural-urban linkages have given rise to diffused network regions.
  • Movement of goods, people and information is rising: Rural hinterlands are connected to multiple urban centers, and the movement of goods, people, information, and finance between sites of production and consumption has strengthened linkages between production and labour markets.

Changing Ecosystems of the Rural-Urban Continuum

  • Land Use Changes: Agriculturally productive lands are being given for other uses, food security zones are being reconfigured, and areas for pollutant filtering are declining.
  • Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Local Livelihoods: There is an increase in waste dump, enhanced disaster risk, and elevated vulnerability, reducing the access of local people to water, food, fuel, fodder, and fiber from ecosystems.
  • Emergence of Intermediary Market Institutions: At the same time, intermediary market institutions are emerging to provide these goods, which has significant implications for the local people.
  • Escalating Market Value of Land and Marginalization: There is also escalation of market value of land, which further marginalizes them.

Way ahead

  • Acknowledge the rural-urban continuum in discussions on social and economic development and environmental issues.
  • Identify challenges and opportunities for improving both urban and rural governance and enhancing access to employment, services, institutional resources, and environmental management.
  • Build rural-urban partnership by taking a systems approach, where the city and surroundings form a city region for which a perspective plan is prepared integrating rural and urban plans within a common frame.
  • Move towards a post-urban world where the rural-urban dichotomy will no longer exist.
  • Better map rural-urban linkages by using satellite-based settlement data and integrating it with Census data.


  • Recognizing and addressing the interconnections between rural and urban areas along a continuum is crucial for effective policy-making and environmental management in India.

Mains Question

Q. The rural-urban continuum has drawn wide attention in recent years. In this light discuss the importance of Recognizing and addressing the interconnections between rural and urban areas.

Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left


Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Extending the Aspirational District Programme (ADP)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)

Mains level: Not Much

The PM has hoped to extend the Aspirational District Programme (ADP) to block and city levels.

Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)

  • Launched in January 2018, the ‘Transformation of Aspirational Districts’ initiative aims to remove this heterogeneity through a mass movement to quickly and effectively transform these districts.
  • The broad contours of the program are Convergence (of Central & State Schemes), Collaboration (of Central, State level ‘Prabhari’ Officers & District Collectors), and Competition among districts driven by a spirit of mass Movement.
  • With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

Behind the name

  • PM then negated the idea of naming any scheme based on their backwardness.
  • Rather the name ‘Aspirational’ presents a more affirmative action-based execution of the scheme.

Selection of districts

  • A total of 117 Aspirational districts have been identified by NITI Aayog based upon composite indicators.
  • The objective of the program is to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts based on 49 indicators (81 data points) from the 5 identified thematic areas.

Weightage has been accorded to these districts as below:

  • Health & Nutrition (30%)
  • Education (30%)
  • Agriculture & Water Resources (20%)
  • Financial Inclusion & Skill Development (10%)
  • Basic Infrastructure (10%)

Strategy of the ADP

The core Strategy of the program may be summarized as follows.

  • Making development a mass movement in these districts
  • Identify low hanging fruits and the strength of each district, to act as a catalyst
  • for development.
  • Measure progress and rank districts to spur a sense of competition.
  • Districts shall aspire to become State’s best to Nation’s best.

Features of the ADP

  • It has transformed into a Jan Andolan.
  • The ADP is different in trying to monitor the improvement of these districts through real-time data tracking.
  • The programme seeks to develop convergence between selected existing central and state government programmes.
  • District performance in the public domain and experience building of the district bureaucracy is another notable feature.
  • The programme is targeted, not towards any single group of beneficiaries, but rather towards the population of the district as a whole.

What makes this program special?

The program reflects what has become of the development project in India under neoliberalism, especially after the end of planning.

  • Long overdue sectors have been given more emphasis.
  • It is not a tailor-made program with one-size-fit strategy. More onus has been laid on the districts. It has a district-intervention strategy.
  • It works on the principle of SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threats) model and comparison with national best parameters for effective resource management.
  • It is the most reviewed programme by the Prime Minister.
  • A general idea behind the idea is that a good work never goes un-noticed. It is duly appreciated on social media as well as by the officials.

Programmatic Strengths

  • A key strength of the ADP is the collection of baseline data and follow-ups at regular intervals.
  • Sustaining this effort would create a robust compilation of statistics for use by both researchers and policy-makers.
  • In doing this, the government also brings much-needed attention to human development and a willingness to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Incremental progress being made in the chosen districts as reflected in the rankings.
  • The programme also claims to be “non-partisan and unbiased” and geared towards all-India growth.
  • The selection of districts indeed suggests that the programme has not favored any bias either regional, political or any other.
  • The programme seeks convergence of central and state schemes anchored around specific activities.

Issues with the programme

  • Using the case of Bihar, they argue that the programmes selection of districts itself is problematic.
  • In fact, it actually excludes the most backward districts because per capita income, the most basic measure of development, has not been considered.
  • There seems to be some ambiguity around the issue of whether the programme is concerned only with improved access or also with the quality of service provided.
  • The indicators used are not defined relationally, rather they are static human development indicators that do not see people mired in dynamic social relations.
  • It is also accused that the state is not making any new or focused public investment (except for possible use of Flexi-funds) into these districts, on the other hand, it is moralizing about their inability to improve (through rankings).
  • The programme is carrying the burden of proving the government’s “developmental” work without addressing any of the fundamental issues around achieving equitable development.
  • Yet, the NITI Aayog justifies the overall approach as capitalizing on “low-hanging fruit.”

Way forward

  • The program has been able to make difference in the lives of citizens of India, in education, health, nutrition, financial inclusion, skill development and this has made a difference to some most backward and most geographically far-flung districts of the nation.
  • ADP is ‘aligned to the principle of “leave no one behind—the vital core of the SDGs. Political commitment at the highest level has resulted in the rapid success of the program the report said.
  • UNDP has recommended revising a few indicators that are slightly close to reaching their saturation or met by most districts like ‘electrification of households’ as an indicator of basic infrastructure.


UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Farmer suicide


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCRB

Mains level: Farmers suicides in India

The number of agricultural labourers who died by suicide in 2020 was 18% higher than the previous year, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report.

Farmers suicide in 2020

  • In 2020, 5,098 of these agricultural labourers died by suicide, an 18% rise from the 4,324 who died last year.
  • Overall, 10,677 people engaged in the farm sector died by suicide in 2020, slightly higher than the 10,281 who died in 2019.
  • They made up 7% of all suicides in the country.
  • Most of these deaths were among those whose primary work and main source of income comes from labour activities in agriculture or horticulture.
  • However, among farmers who cultivate their own land, with or without the help of other workers, the number of suicides dropped 3.7% from 5,129 to 4,940.
  • Among tenant farmers who cultivate leased land, there was a 23% drop in suicides from 828 to 639.

State-wise data

  • The worst among States continues to be Maharashtra, with 4,006 suicides in the farm sector, including a 15% increase in farm worker suicides.
  • Other States with a poor record include Karnataka (2016), Andhra Pradesh (889) and Madhya Pradesh (735).
  • Tamil Nadu also bucked the national trend; although the total number of farm suicides in the State was slightly higher.

Why more suicides despite a boom?

  • The farm sector was one of the few bright spots in the Indian economy since a year.
  • It recorded growth on the back of a healthy monsoon and the continuation of agricultural activities during a lockdown that crippled other sectors.
  • Hence, suicides among landowning farmers dropped slightly during the pandemic year.
  • Landless agricultural labourers who did not benefit from income support schemes such as PM Kisan may have faced higher levels of distress during the pandemic.

General causes of farmers suicides in India

Suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause however the primer reason is the inability to repay loans.

  • Debt trap: Major causes reportedly are bankruptcy/indebtedness, problems in the families, crop failure, illness and alcohol/substance abuse.
  • Lack of credit: Low access to credit, irrigation and technology worsens their ability to make a comfortable living.
  • Responsibility burden: In other words, debt to stress and family responsibilities as reasons were significantly higher than fertilizers and crop failure.
  • Disguised unemployment: This remains high. Fragmentation of land holdings has left far too many farmers with farms that are too small to be remunerative.
  • Mental health: One of the major causes behind suicidal intent is depression. Farmers are often subjected to fear of boycott due to societal pressures.


UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Back2Basics: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • The NCRB is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • It was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • It was set up based on the recommendation of the Task force, 1985 and National Police Commission, 197.
  • It merged the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI and Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI.

Also read:

[Burning Issue] Farmers’ suicide in India


Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

[pib] Five Star Village Scheme


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Schemes covered under the initiaitive

Mains level: Not Much

The Department of Posts has launched a scheme called Five Star Villages, to ensure universal coverage of flagship postal schemes in rural areas of the country.

The Five Star Villages Scheme sounds typically among the most commons types say, Swachh Bharat, Financial Inclusion and Literacy or Infrastructure amenities. Here is the caution for preventing a blunder.

Five Star Villages Scheme

  • The scheme seeks to bridge the gaps in public awareness and reach of postal products and services, especially in interior villages.
  • The initiatives covered under the scheme include:
  1. Savings Bank accounts, Recurrent Deposit Accounts, NSC / KVP certificates,
  2. Sukanya Samridhi Accounts/ PPF Accounts,
  3. Funded Post Office Savings Account linked India Post Payments Bank Accounts,
  4. Postal Life Insurance Policy/Rural Postal Life Insurance Policy and
  5. Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana Account / Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana Account.
  • If a village attains universal coverage for four schemes from the above list, then that village gets four-star status; if a village completes three schemes, then that village gets three-star status and so on.

Its implementation

  • The scheme will be implemented by a team of five Gramin Dak Sevaks who will be assigned a village for the marketing of all products, savings and insurance schemes of the Department of Posts.
  • This team will be headed by the Branch Post Master of the concerned Branch Office. Mail overseer will keep personal watch on the progress of the team on daily basis.
  • The teams will be led and monitored by concerned Divisional Head, Assistant Superintendents Posts and Inspector Posts.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

Using knowledge-era technology to bridge the urban-rural gap


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much.

Mains level: Paper 1- Closing the the gap between urban and rural in India using knowledge-eratechnology.

This article puts forward the idea of using knowledge-era technology to minimise the difference between rural and urban areas. In the first part, it elaborates the reasons and circumstances that led to the neglect of rural areas and development in urban areas. In the next part, the idea of using knowledge-era technologies to close the gaps between rural and urban areas is explored.

Why Urbanisation is spreading and how it led to the neglect of rural areas?

  • Better opportunities: The tendency to migrate to urban areas has been a natural consequence of better opportunities that got created there — in contrast to life in rural areas becoming increasingly unsustainable.
  • Centralisation: The industrial-era dynamics that led to centralisation in support of mass production or massive scale-up was clearly a major one.
  • This, in turn, also led to the concentration of higher education/capacity building processes to urban centres where there was job growth, quite to the detriment of the much larger rural area.
  • Problems in education and training: The education and training environment became myopic, essentially meeting the manning requirements to run systems created by others.
  • Our education with its inherent problems led to little confidence in creating one’s own systems to address needs independent of others.
  • Demographic dividend: India’s importance grew primarily because of her demographic dividend and the large market that her people constituted and not because of the systems and technologies.
  • Neglect of rural India: Rural India suffered severe neglect in the process, probably as a result of poor job opportunities there and education having lost its role as an enabler of local development.
  • However, the country is learning to create systems and technologies to address her needs. The exercise is, by and large, urban-centric.

UPSC asked about the quality of urban life in 2014, and the trends of labour migration in 2015. This article touched upon both of these themes.

Using the knowledge-era technology to close the urban-rural gap

  • We are now in the knowledge era.
  • And knowledge-era technologies, in contrast to industrial-era technologies, promote democratisation (social media, for example) and facilitate decentralisation (work from home).
  • It should thus be possible for an adequately educated and trained youth residing in a rural domain to support a significant part of the manufacturing and service needs of urban areas.
  • Just as an urban youth can support a significant part of the knowledge and application needs in rural areas.
  • With technologies like additive manufacture, internet of things, and artificial intelligence, well-trained people can address needs in both urban and rural areas from wherever they are.
  • Thus, the knowledge era should, in principle, become a significant income leveller between the urban and rural domains, with a large rise in the overall national income.
  • As we focus on capacity building of rural youth, the opportunities in rural areas should, in principle, become higher than those in urban areas since the rural segment can now benefit from all three sectors of the economy- agriculture, manufacturing and services.

The idea of “cillage”

  • In the knowledge era, with emphasis on capability and capacity building of rural youth in terms of holistic education, appropriate technology and enhanced livelihood, there is a possibility for a more balanced distribution of income as well as population.
  • This would, however, need knowledge bridges to be built between cities and villages, and the creation of an ecosystem which has been conceptualised as a “cillage” — a synergistic combination of city and village.
  • Bridging the knowledge gap between a city and a village would also bridge the income gap between the two.
  • This will also lead to a faster bridging of the gap between the average individual income in India and that in industrially advanced countries.
  • Democratisation promoted by knowledge technologies, if properly leveraged, can in principle reduce disparities, which, unfortunately, are on the rise today.

How to realise the idea of cillage?

  • Integrated and holistic approach: Developing a “cillage” ecosystem would need a rooted and integrated approach to holistic education and research, technology development and management, as well as technology-enabled rural livelihood enhancement.
  • It would take a while for the rural youth to become empowered enough to convert the challenges into opportunities in rural areas.
  • The emergence of a new-age society is an inevitability.
  • How soon the rural domain can embrace it and how concurrently, comprehensively that can happen, is the real challenge.
  • That will decide whether India will gain in the knowledge era or lag as it did in the industrial era.

Look at one more question from 2015-“Smart cities in India cannot sustain without smart villages. Discuss this statement in the backdrop of rural-urban integration”.  The ideas discussed here in this article help us to deal with such questions.

Can Covid-19 speed up the realisation of cillage?

  • The process could also be seen as the migration of a set of experiences and skills to villages.
  • We can look at this as a potential two-way bridge for a new relationship between cities and villages.
  • It will be the bridge in which not all need to return to cities, but can rather meet the needs of cities as well as villages by remaining in villages.
  • Several initiatives will be needed to realise such a possibility.
  • Facilitating a number of new skills, technologies and support systems that can further leverage current capabilities of these people for starting a new enterprise would be important.
  • Immediate arrangements to facilitate their livelihood, and leveraging their present capabilities could help retain at least some of these people in villages.
  • It could trigger a faster movement towards an inevitable long-term equilibrium.
  • Going forward, we should take knowledge activities to a higher level so that the products and services created by these people become more competitive.
  • Looking at disruptive technologies for exploiting local opportunities should follow.


Given that the new normal after Covid-19 would, in any case, be quite different, the right course would be to channelise the stimulus caused by this crisis towards accelerating the shift to a new normal. This will not only help a more dispersed population, but will also reduce disparities and lead to faster growth of the economy.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

NCRB Report on Farmers Suicide


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCRB

Mains level: Strategies to combat farmer's distress in India

In 2017, 10,655 people involved in agriculture committed suicide in India, according to data released January 2, 2020 by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).

NCRB had released the 2017 crime data last October 2019, but held back information on suicides.

Highlights of the report

  • NCRB highlighted that the toll was the lowest since 2013.
  • Among those who took their lives, 5,955 were farmers / cultivators and 4,700 agricultural labourers — both lower than in 2016.
  • They comprised 8.2 per cent of all suicide cases in the country in 2017.
  • In 2016, 6270 farmers killed themselves, down from 8,007 in 2015, while 5,109 farm hands committed suicide, up from 4,595.
  • The number of women farmers committing suicide, however, jumped to 480 in 2017 from 275 in ’16.

Farm suicides over half a decade

Years No. of farm sector suicides No. of farmers
2017 10,655 5,955
2016 11,379 6270
2015 12,602 8007
2014 12,360 5650

Statewise data

  • In 2017, the most number of farm suicides were reportedly in Maharashtra (34.7 per cent), followed by Karnataka (20.3 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (9 per cent), Telangana (8 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (7.7 per cent).
  • The trend was quite similar to previous year: In 2016, Maharashtra accounted for 32.2 per cent, Karnataka 18.3 per cent, MP 11.6 per cent, Andhra 7.1 per cent and Chhattisgarh 6 per cent.
  • In 2015 too Maharashtra tops in farmers suicides followed by Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh in 2016.
  • West Bengal, Odisha, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported zero suicides by farmers or agricultural labourers.

Causes of Farmers Suicide

  • Major causes of farm suicides were reportedly bankruptcy / indebtedness, problems in the families, crop failure, illness and alcohol / substance abuse.

Assist this newscard with:

[Burning Issue] Annual Crime in India Report-2017

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch