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Mobility and Stagnation in India's Rural Labour Market
Transformation of the countryside from agrarian subsistence economy to nonfarm monetised economy is propagated as a precursor of growth and development that 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 the changing pattern of rural labour movement as 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 others are stagnating in the 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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