Sta­ble vil­lages key to har­mo­nious so­ci­ety

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI -

The hol­low­ing out of vil­lages be­cause of the coun­try’s in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion and ur­ban­iza­tion drive has given rise to many so­cial prob­lems. The dis­or­derly state of vil­lages as young adults mi­grate to ur­ban ar­eas leav­ing only the el­ders and idle farm­land be­hind in­di­cates the demise of tra­di­tional vil­lages.

Farm­ers-turned-ur­ban­ites look for bet­ter life in cities and no longer carry the val­ues that are based on small-scale farm econ­omy. In­stead, they be­come in­creas­ingly self-cen­tered like most city dwellers as they adapt to the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

Although the hol­low­ing out of vil­lages is an off­shoot of China’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, the gov­ern­ment should not ig­nore the chal­lenges the phe­nom­e­non poses to grass­roots gov­er­nance.

Most vil­lages are self-gov­erned, by vil­lagers, with the vil­lage com­mit­tee as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive body ex­er­cis­ing power. Mi­grant work­ers, who leave vil­lages to work and live in cities, have lit­tle in­ter­est in vil­lage af­fairs back home, per­haps be­cause they don’t have the time and re­sources to take part in vil­lage dis­cus­sions and gov­er­nance mat­ters. The lack of par­tic­i­pants in vil­lage af­fairs also chal­lenges the le­gal­ity and au­thor­ity of the vil­lage com­mit­tees.

The gov­ern­ment, there­fore, should help raise farm­ers’ con­scious­ness and en­cour­age them to take part in vil­lage gov­er­nance. Mod­ern agri­cul­ture can­not be de­vel­oped and vil­lages can­not be “re­cov­ered” with­out ef­fi­cient gov­er­nance at the grass­roots level.

In many vil­lages to­day, the self-gov­er­nance sys­tem has be­come in­creas­ingly ver­ti­cal, frag­mented and iso­lated. Be­sides, most gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials still suf­fer from a bi­nary men­tal­ity; they never put vil­lages on an equal foot­ing with cities.

And the gov­ern­ment, while cre­at­ing chan­nels for farm­ers to mi­grate from vil­lages to cities, ig­nores the de­vel­op­ment and im­por­tance of vil­lages. The poor in­fra­struc­ture in vil­lages, es­pe­cially the lack of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, makes it dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment mod­ern gov­er­nance and a va­ri­ety of diver­si­fied gov­ern­ing mea­sures.

A har­mo­nious so­ci­ety can­not be built only on the back of pros­per­ous cities; sta­ble vil­lages also have to be de­vel­oped for the pur­pose. There­fore, the gov­ern­ment has to at­tach more im­por­tance to adopt­ing toplevel gov­ern­ing mea­sures and prin­ci­ples in ru­ral ar­eas.

Mod­ern agri­cul­ture can be pro­moted only when ru­ral econ­omy is de­vel­oped and vil­lages are struc­tured ra­tio­nally. Big­ger vil­lages can help the smaller ones in gov­er­nance. Or sev­eral smaller vil­lages can form a joint com­mu­nity by re­or­ga­niz­ing their res­i­dents and self-gov­ern­ing bod­ies. The gov­ern­ment, on its part, should play a lead­ing role in mak­ing large-scale trans­fer of peo­ple from vil­lages to cities more or­derly and ef­fi­cient. In­di­vid­ual farm­ers do not know all the re­quire­ments of the job mar­ket, which makes the cur­rent mi­gra­tion of vil­lagers to cities in China dis­or­derly to some ex­tent.

The move­ment of peo­ple should also be in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, that is, from cities to vil­lages, to en­sure that tech­nol­ogy, man­age­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, in­for­ma­tion and cap­i­tal find a chan­nel to move to ru­ral ar­eas and help de­velop mod­ern agri­cul­ture. Apart from big cities, medium- and small­sized towns, too, have

the ca­pac­ity to ab­sorb the la­bor force that vil­lages of­fer.

Cul­tivable land, con­struc­tion sites and other public re­sources in the hol­lowingout vil­lages would be wasted if peo­ple from cities do not move in to make good use of them. Also, farm­ers should be the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries of mod­ern agri­cul­ture.

It is thus im­per­a­tive that the author­i­ties help di­rect pri­vate in­vestors’ money to im­prove trans­port and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture in the vil­lages. More­over, the author­i­ties should main­tain a ra­tio­nal pace of ur­ban­iza­tion, in or­der to have the de­sired ef­fect on vil­lages, and pay greater at­ten­tion to trans­form­ing farm­ers into both ca­pa­ble work­ers and re­spon­si­ble par­tic­i­pants in vil­lage gov­er­nance.

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