I watched this movie called Peepli Live, produced by Amir Khan. The story revolves around an indebted farmer who, facing a large debt, contemplates suicide. Its an interesting movie. However, right at the end, there’s commentary as to how millions of low-income farmers are being forced to forgo their (small) land-holdings and migrate to the city. Here’s the thing: I don’t see it as a bad thing that needs to be reversed. Rather, the role of the government and society should be to ease the transition.
Urbanization allows efficient allocation of public services. It is easier to serve a city with 10 schools rather than 10 small villages with 1 school. The problem is that by portraying urbanization as bad, subsistence farming as good we are trying to swim against the tide and misallocating capital (like the insanely evil NREGA.) We would be better off focusing on easing the transition that is already taking place by focusing on city planning.
Subsistence farming was never a good idea. Lack of scale and under-capitalization implies that millions of farmers in India lead a hand-to-mouth existence. We should be focusing on providing better options for livelihood generation rather than putting poverty on the pedestal and trying to wish the problem away.
Urbanization is a good thing and it is going to continue being a predominant trend of our times. Deal with it.