Rural Settlements in India

    Inhabitants of the rural settlement depend for their livelihood upon the exploitation of the soil, small fishing, quarrying, mining forestry caps etc. A typical village has secondary workers supplying services to the primary group of farmers and farm labourers e.g. shopkeepers, teachers, clergymen, the . publican, postmaster, smith and garage proprietor. Besides the village consists of a part of retired people and in part of younger people who live inn the village but go to work in a neighbouring town as urbanism is fast becoming a new way of life. The proportion of population in each of these classes bears to the total village population, varies with the kind of farming characteristics of the locality, the quality of the soil, the attractiveness and accessibility of the site and its place within the general settlement pattern.

The main factors influencing the rural settlements are :

  1. Nature of the topography
  2. Local weather conditions
  3. Quality of the soil
  4. Nature of surface and sub-surface water
  5. Pattern of landholding

Depending on the size, the rural settlements are classified as (Hamlets is rural settlement comprising of few houses only), true village communities, villages and large villages. True village community are just ancient and long settled villages where in extreme cases, no personal property exists and everything belongs to community of peasants. Such village communities are seen in India, Malaya and France.

    Besides agricultural villages, there also exists forest villages, mining and quarrying villages, fishing villages, villages chiefly supported by tourist industry, dormitory villages serving nearby towns and industrial villages. Each has its own characters :

  1. Many industrial and mining villages are unprepossessing which suffer from ugly and drab surroundings.
  2. Fishing and tourist villages are more attractively situated and in many cases possess the charm and interest of historical buildings.
  3. Most of dormitory villages are either new or consists largely of modern housing estates. In all such settlements, occupations are much more specialized than in towns and such typical urban functions as administration and wholesaling are rarely present. The number of villages in a country and the role played by villages in the social and economic context is profound. In India around three fourth of the population live in more than six hundred thousand villages and most of these support a population of less than five hundred. It is estimated that two out of every three persons still live in villages or in hamlets and scattered dwelling all over the world.

The village has been both the cultural and physical entity since ancient times. If the physical factor of site have provided a mould for pattern formation, cultural factors have given the substance and vitality. The concept of Dih is a symbolic of traditional attachment to the site of the settlement of the growing village community while the decayed Dih has ever remained unwanted, and thus preserved amidst till the life around. The settlement has also preserved the various layers of the social fabrics with provisions for group segregation within the village territorial limit and is in consonance with the need of the time.

The villages is seldom an isolate; it is an essential part of a large territorial unit developed in the process of land occupancy. Such territorial units have continued to this day in more or less similar form maintaining uniform rural polity through the general political order at the national as well as regional levels has been registering frequent changes.

Indian Case

In India, the individual village may be dominated either by a single crop or a number of significant rural communities some of which may be insignificant on the territorial level. For instance, the Upper Doab, a territory with jat dominance does provide for Muslim, Rajput and Tyagi villages. The region as a whole, is predominantly rural as around 80% of the total population is living in villages. There is a general tendency of greater nucleation of rural settlement in the region.

The distributional pattern of rural settlements and their types in the region are intimately related to its dominantly alluvial morphology and the predominantly agrarian economy. The nature of terrain, type of soils, facilities of water supply have also important role in the development of the settlements. Means of transport is a very important factor in this regard. In the Ganga-Yamuna doab, high fertility soil, more ‘bhangar’ lands, adequate irrigational facilities, and means of well developed transport have given rise to almost uniform distribution of settlements. In ‘Tarai’ area of Rohilkhand-Awadh region, the settlements are, however, unevenly distributed due to high percentage of forests, marshy tracts and seasonal floods, and the villages are located on relatively higher ground. In general the unpopulated villages are a pronounced feature of the Tarai tract due to frequent desertion of sides owing to floods and other causes and the migratory cultivation by the aboriginal tribes. On account of over flooding and changes in the river courses, villages are mostly hamleted and are often located at the points of geographical advantage, such as embankment and river bluffs etc. In the Rohilkhand and Awadh, villages are generally evenly distributed and are located above the flood level.

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About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
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7 Responses to Rural Settlements in India

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