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A quarter of a century: mobility and stagnation in India’s rural labour market

Majumder, Rajarshi (2013): A quarter of a century: mobility and stagnation in India’s rural labour market.

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Abstract

Transformation of the countryside from agrarian subsistence economy to non-farm monetised economy is propagated as a precursor of growth and development and involves shifting of labour from farming to off-farm activities. India has started its journey in this path but has a long way to go. Researchers also question whether the changing pattern of rural labour is a positive phenomenon or a distress one. This paper attempts to examine the complexity of changes in rural labour market in India over a quarter of a century to untangle the dynamics. It is observed that the changes taking place are not always conducive to progress as a large part of it is distress driven. While some social groups are going up the ladder, a large mass of the others are stagnating in same or similar occupations. It appears that agriculture still holds the key to rural development. A three pronged strategy of agricultural progress, human capital formation, and rural industrialisation is necessary for breaking the shackles of continuity and usher in changes that are real rather than apparent.

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