A World Bank report on PMGSY shows rural roads have helped non-farm employment rise in three states.
A recent World Bank report highlights the job-creation potential of improving road connectivity to, and in, rural areas through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Analysing relevant data between 2009 and 2017, the report states that non-farm employment in rural areas improved by 12 percentage points in the habitations studied in three states, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, due to better road connectivity. Not only employment, the accessibility to schools and institutional deliveries have also increased.
The report, however, states that women are now more engaged in agrarian activities compared to earlier. This may indicate a disproportionate benefit to men in accessing non-farm jobs. Icrier’s Ashok Gulati, in a book edited along with two Syngenta Foundation researchers, notes that while subsidies to agriculture have increased, government-funded capital formation in agriculture has slid. Given how every rupee spent on rural roads returns Rs 1.1 to the agri-GDP, while the primary agri-subsidies add less than Rs 1, there is a case for the government to look at long-term investments in roads, rural education, and agricultural research. The World Bank report is further evidence of this. At a time when job-creation is limping badly, the government must spend wisely, and move away from agri-subsidies to creation of infrastructure that supports rural growth.