Nelson rightly remarked that up to the comparatively recent times the story of man is largely the story of rural man. So Rural Society is the basic foundation of human life, key stone of the developmental process and the basic unit of social structure.
City as we know is of recent origin where as villages have been in existence from time immemorial. So long as the village or Rural Society shall have importance, Rural Sociology shall continue to take an important place. The importance of Rural Sociology can be examined under the following heads.
(1) Vast Rural Population:
Majority of the world population live in villages. Even to day, two-third of the world population live in rural areas and in the third world countries, the share of rural population to total population is much higher than this. It is an accepted fact that the whole world is nothing but life villages.
Almost all the social thinkers, planners and bureaucrats from nineteenth century till now have realised the importance of rural life and Rural Society. Since Rural Sociology deals with the study of the majority of the world population, it occupies a very key position among the social sciences.
(2) Village the source of man power:
Village is the fundamental basis of human civilisation and culture. Cities grow out of villages or villages when modernised become cities or towns, but no town or city when ruined becomes a villages. So villages are the well spring of our culture. Further, village population is the main source of urban life and man-power of the country. The real picture of the man can be visible in villages but not in town.
(3) Close relationship between man and environment:
The ways of living of man and his cultural patterns are greatly the product of the ecological factors. The main component of ecology is land, water, plant and atmosphere. These factors influence the social life to a great extent. Rural Sociology being involved in exploring and analysing such type of inter-dependence is of vital importance.
Importance of Rural Sociology in Indian Context:
India is a country of villages, therefore, Rural Sociology is comparatively more important here than in any other country of the world. After independence, a systematic and scientific study of Rural Society has been felt necessary and urgent for rural reconstruction because, the real progress of the country lies in the progress of villages.
The Government of India, has launched various programmes like community development programme, co-operative movement etc for the improvement of villages. And Rural Sociology provides scientific knowledge, Rural Sociology is gaining importance. The importance can be analysed in brief under following heads.
(1) Village is the life and blood of Indian Social Life:
Near about 80% of the population of India live in villages. So India is a classic land of villages. Villages are the centre of India culture. Dubey has rightly remarked that “from time immemorial village has been a basic and important unit in the organisation of Indian social life.” Desai has also proclaimed in the same vein that village is the unit of Rural Society.
It is the theatre where in the quantum of rural life unfolds itself and functions. Like every social phenomenon village is a historical category the principal pivot of the Indian society only till recently.
(2) Unique nature of transformation of Indian Society:
Due to historical reasons, Indian Rural Society has become a society of societies which means, Rural Society within its frame work includes different rural societies, hence reveals a diversified cultural pattern. A careful observer can find that all the elements of traditional and modern culture are juxtaposed in Indian rural life. This simultaneous operation of traditional and modern forces makes the Rural Society an interesting field of study.
A great transformation has also taken place in a peculiar way in Rural India. Such peculiar nature of transformation may be termed as ‘traditionalisation of modernity. For a proper analysis of Indian society the study of such peculiarities is highly necessary. Therefore, Rural Sociology becomes more important in India.
(3) Agriculture nexus of the country:
Agriculture is the Indian way of life. The most predominant mode of occupation in India is agriculture. Unless, the agriculture is modernised the country’s economy cannot make a steady progress. Through the study of Rural Sociology, we are able to know about the agricultural programmes involvement of the farmers with agriculture and other agricultural mechanisms for its improvement.
If the vast majority of the rural population has to be provided with minimum basic necessities of life, like food, clothing and housing, agriculture has to be improved. This can be done when we have adequate knowledge about agriculture, and Rural Society. Hence the importance of Rural Sociology in India can hardly be undermined.
(4) For Rural Development and Solution of Rural problems:
Rural India suffers from various social evils to changes the face of Rural Society; these evils have to be removed. Rural Sociology provides us knowledge about the study of rural problems and their solutions. When the problems of rural life are solved, the country can make tremendous progress. Further, the country can be remodeled through rural reconstruction.
Rural Sociology teaches us the various methods and programmes for rural reconstruction. Desai has rightly remarked that “this systematic study of rural social organisation, of its structure, function and evolution has not only become necessary but also urgent after advent of independence.”
(5) Growing influence of Industrialisation and Urbanisation:
Although the process of industrialisation and urbanisation are taking place at a Shail’s pace in India, but Rural Society is very much being influenced by it. The charges, due to such influences at one aspect without the corresponding change in the entire system, become dangerous for Rural Society. The study of such dangerous situations becomes necessary for the smooth progress of Rural Society.
(6) Village as basic unit of study:
Microscopic studies have become necessary to understand the complexities of modern society and its multifarious problems. Srinivas has remarked that “these studies constitute, therefore, valuable contributions towards social, political, economic and religious history of our country.” Village forms as the basic unit of study for any such macroscopic analysis. So knowledge about true nature and form of village life is of prior importance in the present context.
(7) Scientific study of village community as a prerequisite for democratic decentralisation:
Through the decentralisation of power, economy and administration, the country can make real progress in a genuine democratic way. Village Panchayat, Community Development programme and Co-operative Movement are real democratic apparatus for such decentralisation.
Rural Sociology provides us knowledge about the structure and functioning of this organisation. The programmes are the three main forces of social progress. Hence, Rural Sociology which studies the structure and functions of these organisations is definitely of greater importance.