Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rural to Urban Migration in India

This article in today's New York Times fascinated me. The article focuses on the Pushpak train, a twenty-four hour train in India that takes people from rural areas to urban centers such as Mumbai. There, they will work in jobs other than farming and hopefully become breadwinners for their families. The passengers pay approximately $6 and board the train with dreams of making it big in the big city.

The most interesting statistic in the whole article is this one: during the next 43 years, 700 million people will leave rural villages in India and move to cities in India. That is, 31 Indians will arrive in an Indian city every minute for the next four decades. A similar "exodus" is predicted to occur in China.

Do these movements signal the end of ruralism as we know it around the world? If it does, I wonder what it means for rural people in the United States and what it means for rural identity globally.

One association I have with the rural is its static nature. I expect and rely upon rural people to retain old traditions and preserve old ways of life. I am counting on rural areas to preserve alternative, idyllic lifestyles that I can adopt in a few years, once I tire of city life. I had fully expected I would take my children and children's children on trips to rural parts of the country and to rural parts of other countries. Now I wonder how possible that will be.

1 comment:

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

Yes, I read in a NYT story this summer that half of the world's population now live in cities. That figure seems low if you think about only the U.S. context, but if you consider the entire world, the scale of the exodus from rural places is extraordinary.