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Sources: The Hindu 

Context: At a group discussion held by Life Skills Collaborative, most of the rural youth when questioned about their aspirations for the future said they preferred staying in their village.

What is main source of rural income? 

  • Farming is the main source of rural livelihoods, with children from many rural families supplementing their family’s income by working on family-owned farms. But the rural economy is experiencing a major occupational shift with more farmers quitting agriculture to join non-farming jobs, hinting at an agrarian crisis.
  • The National Sample Survey Office data recorded 34 million farmers leaving their farms and transitioning to other sectors such as construction during 2004-05 and 2011-12. This highlights the need for not only making agriculture an aspiring vocation among rural youth, but also creating alternative employment opportunities.


Initiatives by Government of India to Upskill Youth in Rural India

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): Launched in 2015, PMKVY is a flagship skill development scheme that aims to enable a large number of Indian youths to take up industry-relevant skill training to help them secure a better livelihood.

o    The scheme provides short-term training programs in various sectors, including agriculture, healthcare, construction, and more.

  • Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY): DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) and focuses on the rural poor youth.

o    It aims to transform rural poor youth into economically independent and globally relevant workforce through market-driven training programs.

  • National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM): NRLM, launched in 2011, aims to reduce poverty by promoting diversified and gainful self-employment and wage employment opportunities in rural areas.

o    It includes skill development as a key component to enhance the livelihood options for rural youth.

  • Skill Development Initiatives under MGNREGA: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) includes provisions for skill development and wage employment in rural areas.

o    States may allocate a portion of their MGNREGA funds for skill development programs.

  • Rural Self-Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs): RSETIs are institutions established to provide training and skill development to rural youth, especially those from economically weaker sections.

o    These institutes aim to promote self-employment and entrepreneurship in rural areas.

  • Skill Development in Agriculture: Various initiatives focus specifically on skill development in the agricultural sector, including training programs on modern farming techniques, use of technology in agriculture, and agribusiness skills.
  • Digital India: The Digital India initiative aims to bridge the digital divide in rural areas by providing digital literacy and skills training.


How can education be improved? 

  • Effective rural education should be tailored such that technical as well as life skills, needed to empower youth in these areas, become accessible to them through formal education.
  • There are many ways this could be done, as educational evidence from other developing economies suggests such as Mexico’s tele-schools and Bhutan’s well-being-infused curriculum.
  • The tele-schools provide lessons on subject matters as well as values, thereby providing a much higher level of access to value-based secondary education for remote areas where secondary schools are scarce.
  • This has shown to have trickling benefits in the local economy with improved attitudes and increased aspirations among children and parents.
  • Organizations such as NIIT Foundation and Pratham Institute are working with children in rural areas to provide upskilling opportunities.

Hybrid life skilling programs are offered both by NIIT in collaboration with UNICEF through its self-learning platform, and Pratham, which offers courses in both industry-specific skills (such as in healthcare, electrical, construction) and life skills. By offering rural populations skills in fields like agricultural mechanization, pollution monitoring, nursing and digital technologies via e-learning, rural India can boost employability in both traditional and non-traditional trades, leading to a vibrant economy. 


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