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Of late, rural development has assumed global attention especially among the developing nations. It has great significance for a country like India where majority of the population, around 65% of the people, live in rural areas. The present strategy of rural development in India mainly focuses on poverty alleviation, better livelihood opportunities, provision of basic amenities and infrastructure facilities through innovative programmes of wage and self-employment. This article overviews the role and function of the Government and its’ programmes for rural development in India. Science and technological interventions in the field of rural development have been discussed briefly and efforts being made to document some of the appropriate technologies developed by several research institutes, organizations suitable for application in rural areas are listed. Besides, the actual realization achieved during the Xth plan and the proposed target and strategy of the XIth plan have been highlighted to showcase the recent trend of developmental activities under the Ministry of Rural Development.
Rural Development in India is one of the most important factors for the growth of the Indian economy. India is primarily an agriculture-based country. Agriculture contributes nearly one-fifth of the gross domestic product in India. In order to increase the growth of agriculture, the Government has planned several programs pertaining to Rural Development in India. The Ministry of Rural Development in India is the apex body for formulating policies, regulations and acts pertaining to the development of the rural sector. Agriculture, handicrafts, fisheries, poultry, and diary are the primary contributors to the rural business and economy.
Rural development in India has witnessed several changes over the years in its emphasis, approaches, strategies and programmes. It has assumed a new dimension and perspectives as a consequence. Rural development can be richer and more meaningful only through the participation of clienteles of development. Just as implementation is the touchstone for planning, people’s participation is the centre-piece in rural development. People’s participation is one of the foremost pre-requisites of development process both from procedural and philosophical perspectives. For the development planners and administrators it is important to solicit the participation of different groups of rural people, to make the plans participatory.
Rural development aims at improving rural people’s livelihoods in an equitable and sustainable manner, both socially and environmentally, through better access to assets (natural, physical, human, technological and social capital), and services, and control over productive capital (in its financial or economic and political forms) that enable them to improve their livelihoods on a sustainable and equitable basis.
The basic objectives of Rural Development Programmes have been alleviation of poverty and unemployment through creation of basic social and economic infrastructure, provision of training to rural unemployed youth and providing employment to marginal Farmers/Labourers to discourage seasonal and permanent migration to urban areas.
The Government’s policy and programmes have laid emphasis on poverty alleviation, generation of employment and income opportunities and provision of infrastructure and basic facilities to meet the needs of rural poor. The Ministry of Rural Development in India is the apex body for formulating policies, regulations and acts pertaining to the development of the rural sector. Agriculture, handicrafts, fisheries, poultry, and diary are the primary contributors to the rural business and economy. The introduction of Bharat Nirman, a project by the Government of India in collaboration with the State Governments and the Panchayati Raj Institutions is a major step towards the improvement of the rural sector. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 was introduced by the Ministry of Rural Development, for improving the living conditions and its sustenance in the rural sector of India. The Ministry of Rural Development in India is engaged in legislations for the social and economic improvement of the rural populace. The ministry consists of three departments viz., Department of Rural Development, Department of Land Resources and Department of Drinking Water Supply. Under the department of rural development, there are three autonomous bodies viz., Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) and National Rural Road Development Agency (NRRDA). The objective of the ministry can broadly be elaborated as to encourage, promote and assist voluntary action in the implementation of projects for the enhancement of rural prosperity, strengthen and promote voluntary efforts in rural development with focus on injecting new technological inputs, act as the national nodal point for co-ordination of all efforts at generation and dissemination of technologies relevant to rural development in its wide sense and assist and promote programmes aimed at conservation of the environment and natural resources.
However, various ministries in the central government are engaged directly or indirectly for implementation of many programmes and schemes for the development of rural areas like Ministries of Agriculture, Health and Family Welfare, New and Renewable Energy, Science and Technology, Women and Child Development and Tribal affairs etc. In addition, to strengthen the grass root level democracy, the Government is constantly endeavouring to empower Panchayat Raj Institutions in terms of functions, powers and finance. Grama Sabha, NGOs, Self-Help Groups and PRIs have been accorded adequate roles to make participatory democracy meaningful and effective.
The rural economy is an integral part of the overall Indian economy. As majority of the poor reside in the rural areas, the prime goal of rural development is to improve the quality of life of the rural people by alleviating poverty through the instrument of self-employment and wage employment programmes, by providing community infrastructure facilities such as drinking water, electricity, road connectivity, health facilities, rural housing and education and promoting decentralization of powers to strengthen the Panchayati raj institutions etc. The various strategies and programs of the Government for rural development are discussed below:
Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP): First introduced in 1978-79, IRDP has provided assistance to rural poor in the form of subsidy and bank credit for productive employment opportunities through successive plan periods. Subsequently, Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM), Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA), Supply of Improved Tool Kits to Rural Artisans (SITRA) and Ganga Kalyan Yojana (GKY) were introduced as sub-programs of IRDP to take care of the specific needs of the rural population.
Wage Employment Programs: Anti-poverty strategies, like assistance to the rural poor families to bring them above the poverty line by ensuring appreciable sustained level of income through the process of social mobilization, training and capacity building. Wage Employment Programs have sought to achieve multiple objectives. They not only provide employment opportunities during lean agricultural seasons but also in times of floods, droughts and other natural calamities. They create rural infrastructure which supports further economic activity. It encompasses Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) etc. NREGA is an act of parliament. It is not merely a scheme or policy. It aims at enhancing the livelihood security of the people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage employment in a financial year, to a rural household whose members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. The objective of the Act is to create durable assets and strengthen the livelihood resource base of the rural poor.
Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS): EAS was launched in October 1993 covering 1,778 drought-prone, desert, tribal and hill area blocks. It was later extended to all the blocks in 1997-98. The EAS was designed to provide employment in the form of manual work in the lean agricultural season. The works taken up under the program were expected to lead to the creation of durable economic and social infrastructure and address the felt-needs of the people.
Food for Work Program: The Food for Work program was started in 2000-01 as a component of the EAS in eight notified drought-affected states of Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Maharastra and Uttaranchal. The program aims at food provision through wage employment. Food grains are supplied to states free of cost. However, lifting of food grains for the scheme from Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns has been slow.
Rural Housing: Initiated in 1985-86, the IAY is the core program for providing free housing to families in rural areas. It targets scheduled castes (SCs)/scheduled tribes (STs), households and freed bonded laborers. The rural housing program has certainly enabled many BPL families to acquire pucca houses. The coverage of the beneficiaries is limited given the resource constraints. The Samagra Awas Yojana (SAY) was taken up in 25 blocks to ensure convergence of housing, provision of safe drinking water, sanitation and common drainage facilities. The Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) has extended its activities to the rural areas, providing loans at a concessional rate of interest to economically weaker sections and low-income group households for construction of houses.
Social Security Programs: Democratic decentralization and centrally supported Social Assistance Programs were two major initiatives of the government in the 1990s. The National Social Assistance Program (NSAP), launched in August 1995 marks a significant step towards fulfillment of the Directive Principles of State Policy. The NSAP has three components: a) National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS); b) National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS); c) National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS). The NSAP is a centrally-sponsored program that aims at ensuring a minimum national standard of social assistance over and above the assistance that states provide from their own resources. The NOAPS provides a monthly pension of Rs. 75 to destitute BPL persons above the age of 65. The NFBS is a scheme for BPL families who are given Rs. 10,000 in the event of the death of the breadwinner. The NMBS provides Rs. 500 to support nutritional intake for pregnant women. In addition to NSAP, the Annapurna scheme was launched from 1st April 2000 to provide food security to senior citizens who were eligible for pension under NOAPS but could not receive it due to budget constraints.
Land Reforms: In an agro-based economy, the structure of land ownership is central to the wellbeing of the people. The government has strived to change the ownership pattern of cultivable land, the abolition of intermediaries, the abolition of zamindari, ceiling laws, security of tenure to tenants, consolidation of land holdings and banning of tenancy are a few measures undertaken. Furthermore, a land record management system is a pre-condition for an effective land reform program. In 1987-88, a centrally-sponsored scheme for Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR) was introduced in Orissa and Bihar.
Ministry of Science and Technology plays a pivotal role in promotion of science & technology in the country. The departments has wide ranging activities ranging from promoting high end basic research and development of cutting edge technologies on one hand to serving the technological requirements of the common man through development of appropriate skills and technologies on the other. Appropriate rural technology focuses mainly on those technologies which are simple and within the reach of the ordinary people for their own benefit and the benefit of their community and harness the local or regional capacity to meet local needs without increasing dependence on external factors. A large number of governments, public and private non-government organizations are involved in developing technologies for rural areas. However, these technologies have hardly touched the lives of the rural population. Apparently, the problem lies not only in the generation, diffusion and adoption of technologies but also in poor documentation. Recently, efforts have been made by several organizations like NRDC, CAPART, TRCS, NIRD, DST, DBT, CSIR, ICAR, KVKs and other voluntary organizations etc. to bring out a compendium of technologies for rural areas for wide information dissemination and public awareness. A brief account of technologies which are low cost, energy-efficient and environment-friendly as well as appropriate and sustainable for application in rural areas is presented in the Appendix I.
Government schemes focusing on Science and Technology are:
S&T Application for Rural Development (STARD): Aims at facilitating development of promising S&T based field groups and innovative technologies related to rural development.
S&T for Women: To promote research, development and adaptation of technology, improve the life, working conditions and opportunities for gainful employment of women especially in rural areas.
S&T Application for Weaker Sections (STAWS): Aimed at the development of economically weaker sections of the society in rural and urban areas.
Tribal sub-plan: Aims at improving living conditions of scheduled tribes based on sustainable science and technology activities
Special Component Plan (SCP): Aims at improving the lot of the poor sections of SC community through intervention of Science & Technology.
It needs to be mentioned here that in a collaborative project jointly initiated by the Andhra Pradesh Government and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research in Karim Nagar, Central Food and Technological Research Institute, Mysore played a key role in establishing small-scale agro-based industries in that district for better livelihoods of the rural communities and promote the setting up and modification of existing rice mills units at Mulkanoor for better yields.
Rural Development is the main pillar of Nation’s Development. Inspite of rapid urbanization, a large section of our population still lives in the villages. Secondly, rural India has lagged behind in development because of many historical factors. Though, the 11th Plan began in very favorable circumstances with the economy having grown at the rate of 7.7% per year in the Xth Plan period, there still exists a big challenge to correct the developmental imbalances and to accord due priority to development in rural areas. Ministry of Rural Development is implementing a number of programmes aimed at sustainable holistic development in rural areas. The thrust of these programmes is on all round economic and social transformation in rural areas, through a multi-pronged strategy, aiming to reach out to the most disadvantaged sections of the society. The actual realization achieved during the Xth five year plan and the proposed target and strategy of the XIth five year plan have been highlighted and presented in Tables 1 and 2 respectively.
Table 1:The XIth plan allocation under various schemes/programmes
|S. No.||Scheme/Programme||Proposed out lay XIth Five Year (2007-2012) (Lakh Rs.)|
|3.||DPIP9SS (EAP) / EAPII Phase||23158.72|
|5||Indira Avas Yojana||27766.71|
|9||Gramin Ajivika Pariyaojna||22480.00|
|10||National Rural Rojgar Gurantee Scheme||199881.85|
|11||MP Rojgar Gurantee Council||3800.00|
|12||Mid day meal||69.462.00|
|17||State rural road Connectivity||8647.60|
|18||CM Awas Yojana (Apna Ghar)||6200.00|
|23||Gokul Gram adhosanrachan||5000.00|
Source: Ministry of Rural Development
Table 2: Scheme-wise physical targets proposed for XIth Five year plan
|Sl. No.||Scheme/Programme||Unit||Proposed target XIth Five Year (2007-2012)|
|1.||SJGSY||No. of beneficiaries in lakhs||4.52|
|3.||DPIP(SS with WB support)||No. of groups in lakhs||2.05|
|4||Rural roads (PMGSY)||Kms.||20000|
|5||Indira Avas Yojana||No. of houses in lakhs||4.44|
|6||Gramin Ajivika Pariyaojna||No. of household in lakhs||3.20|
|7||National Rural Rojgar Gurantee Scheme||Lakhs mandays||17300|
|8||Mid day meal||Students in lakhs||466.35|
|9||BRGF||No. of workers||20000|
|11||M.P. Rural Livelihood Project||No. of families||320000|
Source: Ministry of Rural Development
Some new schemes viz., State Rural Road connectivity, State Rural Housing, State SGSY, Training, Master Plan and Sutradhar are proposed for XIth Five Year Plan period. The provision made under new schemes for 2007-12 is Rs. 18,110.60 lakhs and for 2007-08 is Rs. 6,720.00 lakhs. Scheme-wise activities have been described briefly as follows-
Although concerted efforts have been initiated by the Government of India through several plans and measures to alleviate poverty in rural India, there still remains much more to be done to bring prosperity in the lives of the people in rural areas. At present, technology dissemination is uneven and slow in the rural areas. Good efforts of organizations developing technologies, devices and products for rural areas could not yield high success. Experiences of many countries suggest that technological development fuelled by demand has a higher dissemination rate. However, in India, technology developers for rural areas have been catering to needs (with small improvement), rather than creating demand. There is no industry linkage machinery to create demand-based-technology market for rural communities. Besides, there is also an imbalance between strategies and effective management programmes. Propagation of technology/schemes for rural development is slow and there is a lacking in wider participation of different stakeholders. An ideal approach may therefore, include the government, panchayats, village personals, researchers, industries, NGOs and private companies to not only help in reducing this imbalance, but also to have a multiplier effect on the overall economy.
December 8, 2017