02 September 2005

World Bank comes to India's aid

Rural India represents the heart of India. In terms of sheer size and spread, variety of culture, language, polity, religion and customs, rural India is a case study not just for economists and marketers in India, but for the whole world. Rural India comprises of nearly 700 million people living in close to 627,000 villages, covering 128 million households. This means, the rural population is nearly three times that of the population inhabiting India’s urban centres.

However, there are points of concern. Low per capita income of the rural wage earner is on top of that list. There are not enough resources to provide power in every home, education, and sufficient healthcare to every rural Indian. A lack of proper roads is a serious issue as well. Communication and access to information are other deterrents in the growth of this market. If the government and the private sector can work together, rural India – and India as a country – can leverage the power that India has over the rest of the world: i.e. the power of human capital that India is endowed with.

Happily for us, this concern for rural India is also shared by the World Bank and its President, Paul Wolfowitz, who visited India recently. According to Mr Wolfowitz, "though it is making rapid strides, India has an unfinished agenda. It is still home to a quarter of the world’s poor people, most of whom reside in the rural areas. Infrastructure constraints are an impediment to growth. The government has rightly made provision of rural infrastructure and investments in hard infrastructure a priority. The World Bank feels privileged to support these efforts."

To find out more on this, read Sudip Mozumder’s story from World Bank here.

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