The 2001 Census12 reported that 72.2% of the Indian population resides in rural areas, and depends on agriculture for their livelihood. The Government has accordingly scaled up the commitment of resources to rural areas significantly to catalyse an inclusive development process, so that the benefits of India's growth reach every section of the society.
For the upliftment of the rural economy, the highest priority has been accorded to building rural infrastructure in order to facilitate better connectivity with urban areas and to provide basic amenities in rural areas. Recent initiatives of the Government include schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana(Prime Minister's Rural Roads Scheme), Bharat Nirman(for creating basic rural infrastructure), Total Sanitation Campaign, Rural Infrastructure Development Fund, National Rural Health Mission, etc. These initiatives will create new employment opportunities, boost demand, raise standards of living and accelerate the overall growth of the economy.
A vibrant rural economy is now seen as a driver of rapid growth and a potential profit centre by entrepreneurs. A focus on the rural economy is increasingly becoming central to the marketing strategies of enterprises, trying to widen the demand base for their goods and services. For instance, the number of rural telephones (as a percentage of the total number available in India) has steadily increased from around 16% in 2004 to 33% in 2010. During 2009‑10, the growth rate of rural telephones was 62.6% as against 37.3% for urban telephones. The private sector has contributed crucially to the growth of rural telephones by providing about 84.5% of telephones as in November 2010.13