At IRMA, a team of researchers have been working intensively on issues of rural-urban linkages and transformation in the last few years. In the wake of increased urbanization and dynamism in the relationship between urban and rural areas on one hand and continued dependence of a large number of households on rural and agriculture based livelihoods on the other, researchers have engaged in understanding varied aspects of this relationship.
One important understanding that has emerged from this involvement is that direct interventions alone (for urban development) are not enough for improving conditions of cities and towns in view of the larger constraints and changes emanating from the rural side of the economy. The changes in the economy, including that of rural areas, are such that people are moving out of villages without towns actually affording reasonable and decent employment and living conditions for these people. Agriculture in India despite having contributed low to the GDP of the country in recent times constitutes the main social and economic fabric of rural society and retains a sizeable population which neither cities nor manufacturing & service sectors are adequately prepared to accommodate. At the same time, urban and industrial development is encroaching upon vital resources like land, water and forests squeezing the rural livelihoods even further. If because of these reasons, this fabric breaks down, cities and towns would be flooded with people without having decent opportunities of work and living, not to mention its negative implications for food security.
There is a need to establish agriculture as a profitable business. Strengthened agriculture, good-quality civic services and basic infrastructures in rural areas, and balanced urban development can go together jolly-well if we work towards a more sustainable model of transformation for the future. While working towards this model of rural transformation and rural/urban development the Centre would be working on the following themes:
• Structural, Cultural and Institutional Issues in Rural Transformation and Urbanization
• Status of Agriculture and Peasantry
• Non-Farm Sector in Rural and Urban Areas
• Status of Informal Labour
• Urban Governance, Planning and Development
• Urban and Rural Services and Supplies
• Rural-Urban Linkages such as Migration, Remittances etc.
• Urbanisation and Well-Being
• Any Other Emerging and Relevant Issues