WHY SMART VILLAGES?
Smart Villages are a good way of ensuring rural areas are not left out of the development agenda even as cities boost their infrastructure facilities. Development of modern infrastructure and urban conveniences in rural regions, whereby the rural-urban divide is blurred. Accordingly, one should be clear about the path forward in creating Smart Villages. For example, given the sheer size of a city, a green-field or brown-field Smart City is always viable. Conversely, villages tend to be smaller. Therefore, transforming one village at a time into a Smart Village would erode economies of scale.
SHORT TERM GOAL
The top priority should be the creation of opportunities for youths in villages, thereby discouraging migration to cities. Farming should be made a remunerative occupation, with guidance and mentoring to small farmers on how to get the best yield and market at remunerative prices. It’s important to train them to develop a secondary source of income.
LONG TERM GOAL
We must create an ecosystem that makes youth interested in working from their villages. BPOs/KPOs can operate from villages and young people can be encouraged to take up IT jobs there. Many jobs require computer skills instead of degrees. The digitisation of post offices, rural banks, and IT-enabled services provide excellent opportunities. Projects supported by Digital India and Skill India should be integrated through a unified agency to reach villages. For instance, Skill India can empower youths to start their own small businesses after training as masons, mechanics, electricians, and drivers or to run repair shops, poultry and dairy farms, kirana stores, tea-shops, dhabas and so on.