Dr. Narendar Pani from the National Institute of Advanced Studies at the Indian Institute of Science will present his latest paper.
India’s movement away from an agrarian economy has been marked by an understated point of divergence from the predictions of development theory. Backed by evidence from several large countries, like Brazil and China, development theorists expect that as the share of agriculture in GDP declines so would the share of the rural in total population, and that the difference between the two proportions would narrow over time. In India this difference has been increasing over time. In this presentation I will argue that the widening gap between the two proportions reflects the widespread phenomenon of workers residing in rural areas while working in a city. The very different conditions in urban and rural areas result in the everyday life of workers having an element of dualism. I will demonstrate, using data of migrant workers in Bengaluru and their distant villages, that the nature and extent of this dualism changes with distance. When the distance between work and home increases to hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of kilometres, the family structure of workers is altered to suit the new arrangements. The felt need to return home when faced with a crisis, such as those caused by an ethnic conflict or a pandemic, introduces volatility to the processes of urbanization. And the economic consequences of using urban earning to build rural assets can alter power equations in the village.