National Rurban Mission versus PURA

On 22 February 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the National Rurban Mission (NRM) from Kurubhat in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. The mission, also dubbed as “Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission” (SPMRM) aims to spur social, economic and infrastructure development in rural areas by developing a cluster of 300 Smart Villages over the next 3 years across the country in the first phase. More clusters will be identified depending upon the progress of the scheme.

We have already covered Rurban Mission and you may read it here. The present discussion is on a probable question for your examination – How far National Rurban Mission (NRM) is different from PURA or other similar schemes launched earlier? Is there any difference or is it just an old wine in new bottle?

The scheme envisages a public-private partnership in its operation. But how far the scheme is different from the previous schemes like PURA are some of the relevant questions that may arise.

Similar schemes have been implemented before. In the fourth Five year Plan (1969-1974), the government adopted a vital strategy for rural development with the name “growth centres” and was called as the Integrated Area Development with special focus on bridging rural-urban divide. Rural-urban divide was a crucial aspect of development which was missed in the previous government programmes like Community Development Programme and National Extension Service of 1950s and 1960s.

Another such scheme was PURA. In fact, in a way the present scheme can be held as a version of PURA but with improvements like budgetary allocations. PURA rested much on the voluntary support. PURA mission failed to take off since it was completely at the hands of private sector. It was mired due to lack of investments and funds. As true with most of the other schemes, it also suffered from improper implementation. However, in the Rurban mission the onus of implementation of the scheme lies exclusively with the government.  The government has made this scheme a well funded scheme by converging other similar programmes. The government has allocated funds to the tune of Rs 5000 crore so that the pace of change and better grassroots planning are better and effective than the earlier PURA scheme. The Rurban mission if implemented effectively can promote development of villages with their own population. Hence, Rurban Mission is dubbed as the rural counterpart of urban “smart city” mission. In fact, smart cities without smart villages have created undue pressure on cities which are now unable to cope with the unending streams of migrants from villages.

The way forward for the implementation of the Rurban mission is that it must have a strong component to help agriculture and industries so that the rural based occupations can thrive without any hardships. The motto “strengthen rural areas, de-burden urban areas” growth has to be scrupulously followed to achieve the evenly distributed development so that this mission will not become a mere name change of the past schemes like PURA.