Rural Urban Dichotomy

The different nature of rural and urban spaces in the country, ranging on all different dimensions including governance, environment, education, health, infrastructure and development, is the rural-urban dichotomy in principle. It is economic, cultural, social, historical and well as political in nature.

Reasons for Rural-Urban dichotomy


  • Lack of formal credit institutions in rural areas makes it difficult to invest in capital formation.
    • Lack of industrialisation
    • High seasonal and disguised unemployment
    • Failing APMC regime
    • Concentration of capital in cities
    • Occupational mobility is higher in urban areas
    • Booming startup culture in urban areas

Social reasons

  • Rural Indian society tends to be more patriarchal than urban setup
    • Caste discrimination more rampant in rural areas
    • Girls’ education upto a limited extent in rural areas
    • Urban areas tend to modernise on lines with western culture more frequently
    • Liberal values are promoted in urban settings compared to rural areas

Historical reasons

  • Old cities were establishments of kings, ministers and nobles in medieval times and residences of rich traders, aristocrats and British officers in modern times
    • Urban areas were nodal points of trading and big marketplaces

Need to reduce rural-urban dichotomy

Reducing this dichotomy will result in a ‘rural-urban continuum’ which means the less and almost negligible difference between rural and urban areas. An example is Kerala which has had a high level of this continuum for many years.

  • It would lead to infrastructural development in rural areas.
    • Physical infrastructure will get a boost by integrating rural areas with value supply chains and freight corridors. The Sagarmala project, National Waterways project and Golden Quadrilateral have the potential to bring regions into the mainstream.
    • For financial infrastructure, digital banking needs to be pushed in rural areas, along with penetration of POS and ATMs at the grassroots level.
  • There are 3 crore houses required in rural areas and 1.2 crore houses required in urban areas. Schemes like PM Aawas Yojana and Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) have given a push in this regard.
  • India’s expenditure on healthcare is just 2.1% of GDP (2021-22 Union Budget). To improve this in both rural and urban areas, PM Jan Arogya Yojana, National Rural/Urban Health Mission, and Rashtriya Bal Swasth Karyakram is underway.
  • Literacy rate in urban areas is 87.7% while that of rural areas is 73.5%. To fill this gap, education is promoted through Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and PM Schools for Rising India (PM-SHRI).
  • It will result in economic freedom of the rural population from the evil of informal credit and debt trap. For this RBI has unveiled the Payments Vision 2025 which would lead to better financial inclusion and participation. Centre has also announced a bank recapitalisation scheme by infusing Rs. 15000 Crore in weak PSUs.
  • It will result in a reduction of social evils like caste discrimination and dowry etc.
  • It will lead to a rise in political awareness among the population.

Challenges in achieving rural-urban continuum

  • Lack of infrastructure and investment in rural regions
  • Unwillingness of political leaders to bring about a social change
  • Failure in policy implementation at the rural level
  • Low number of dedicated schemes to achieve the continuum
  • Migration of rural population in cities makes the development of villages more challenging

Way forward

  • Achieving the rural-urban continuum must be one of the key points in policy-making, given the Amritkaal, the 17 SDGs and the global climate crisis. Striving for this continuum will result in multifaceted growth and fulfilment of multidimensional goals.

We must look forward to the German model – where villages are designated sub-sectors of production and services and trained for that, which results in internal as well as external consumption and acts as a capital expenditure multiplier.

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