It is a well-known fact that development of rural areas remains to be a dead lock for the state government and the central government for several reasons, many of which are complex in nature that require relentless effort from various sections. One among them is the lack of sufficient human resource to serve for the rural development. Among the negative stories, absenteeism of the government employees, their noncooperation, indifference towards critical issues, corruption and noncompliance with the government rules are some of the prominent issues that have become a routine part of news.
Two important areas that need critical attention for rural development are education and health. To fulfill that doctors and teachers are essential, otherwise quality education and healthy living remain to be a distant dream. When the availability of teachers and doctors are taken into account, their absenteeism or their post remaining to be vacant are highlighted as two prominent matter of concern. The fact remains that most of them are transferred from urban areas. The question remains why doctors and teachers who are appointed in the rural areas have an aversion towards their job location? Recently doctors in Kerala had a protest against the government decision to engage the MBBS students in rural areas for two years after internships. Why even doctors who take Hippocratic Oath to take care of the patients as their paramount duty are reluctant and even protest against their appointment in rural areas for two years? Why teachers do not accept their transfer to rural areas or remains to be absent from their duty till they get appointment in urban location? Why Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission fail to achieve the goals due to lack of staff?
We need to examine if we could put the whole blame on the teachers and doctors alone for their apathy towards rural development and accept their absence as an inevitable part of existing reality. Should we wait for the committed and dedicated doctors and teachers voluntarily spend some part of their life in rural areas? Or should we find practical solution for the issue? And if we want to find an amicable solution, we must analyse the issue to the core.
There are two aspects that we must take into consideration; one regarding the attitude of the government employees and the other the reality of rural life. Let’s take the latter first and examine it briefly with a view of a person from urban middle class. Indian rural area is known for poor infrastructure that makes travelling and communication difficult, lack of good schools, shopping centers, electricity, entertainment opportunities and many other attractions of a bright city life that makes life in the rural area monotonous and tedious for an urban migrant. Along with that the cultural and attitudinal difference, conventional life style, unchanged value system and over all the unexciting living conditions of rural life take away the interest of the urban middle class to work in the remote areas. In order to justify this reason it is worth examining why the educated youth from the rural areas do not wish to work in their own village. Most of them do not want to come back to their village after spending few years in the city as part of their studies. Now the attitude of the employees that could have inspired them to work against all odds too is alien, expect in the few. The question remains, can we expect the youth living in the midst of cut throat competition and infinite desire for material wellbeing to work in adverse circumstances with a drive to indulge in national development? Did the education system impart values and principles to inspire them to be part of a broader part of humanity? Did anyone, including their parents, inspire them to see success in life lies beyond the material advancement and accumulation of wealth? Did they ever get a chance to realize life is not an isolated course of journey that everyone is interdependent? Did their teachers talked about matters more important or equally important than limiting life on personal gains and satisfaction? The absence of such noble values is an indisputable fact today.
If it is so, the next step is how we can overcome this vicious cycle. Our education system has to be segregated from other commercial enterprises and quality education should be made available to everyone at affordable cost. Higher education should be separated from privatization and government should invest to prepare the young minds to spend their service for the upliftment of the underdeveloped sections without hesitation. Education that needs huge individual investment, values imparted from institutions that are established for profit and students who do not learn the philosophy of service cannot be expected to address the issues of rural development.
Along with that it is essential to ensure the comfort of the human resource assigned for rural development at the best possible extent by the government, not just basic needs, and some incentive to motivate them and sustain their interest in working for the deprived sections of the society. It is absurd to expect everyone to sacrifice their aspirations for social development and accept inhospitable realities with open hands. At the same time considering their needs, aspirations and making arrangements for their comfort will have mutual benefit for the society as well as the employees. For example it would be practical to accept the need of internet accessibility, facility to travel or get electricity important for a doctor or a teacher working in the rural area instead of neglecting it as high expectation of an urban middle class for a luxurious life and asking them to adjust to the hardships until they complete their service. It is necessary to realise that the sudden absence of comforts of city life may not be easily digestible for an urban migrant and it is quiet natural to feel discomfort about it. It is also very necessary for the local people to understand the people from outside come from a very different experience and they should support them in all the possible ways along with the government. If there is a constructive attitude from both sections, the urban middle class may show interest to serve the rural population and stay longer without compulsions. It may sound compromising but a practical solution.