Rural reconstruction may be said to have a material, intellectual and a moral aspect. Materially it implies improving health of the rural communities and arising their living standards. The intellectual aspect contemplates the need for better educational facilities.
The moral aspect seeks to awaken the villager to a sense of his place of belonging and responsibilities in society, thus transform his entire outlook on life.
According to expert opinion, there are some main reasons why efforts made for rural uplift before the introduction of Planning achieved little success in this country. In the first place, these efforts were relatively quite small and diffuse in character. The impulse for rural improvement came from the governmental level, and could not arouse sufficient enthusiasm among the rural folk.
The Community Development Programme, launched in October, 1952 directed by Khitish Chandra Neogi, the then Central Minister-in-Charge, recognized that our efforts at rural development must take the form of concerted efforts in specific development areas. This concept ensures an all-round improvement in the different departments of life in a small rural area or community, viz, agriculture, education, health, sanitation, handicrafts, etc.
Community Development is the method of National Extension Service. It is the agency through which this process of transformation of the social and economic life of villages is to be carried out.
The National Extension Service is designed mainly to inform the cultivator, who is the backbone of a rural society, of the results of scientific research in agriculture and health.. The essence of this scheme is that villagers themselves must participate, with increasing awareness and sense of responsibility, in the planning and implementation of projects material to their own well-being. Self-help and co-operation are the principles on which the movement rests. It attempts to bring within its scope all rural families, especially those who are ‘underprivileged’, and enable them to take their rightful places in rural society. Naturally, rural extension and community projects form an integral part of a Welfare State in action.
Each Community Development Project is divided into three development blocks, consisting of 100 villages, each being a nucleus for intensive work covering all aspects of rural life. The pivot of the organisation is the multi-purpose village-level worker or Gramsevak. He is the rural people’s friend, philosopher and guide. In recent times, however, the work is largely taken up by the village Panchayet combining both executive legislative and even judicial activities of the village community.
National Extension Service Block formerly consisted of 100 villages. Planning Commission wanted the entire country to be converted into Community Development Blocks with considerably larger scope of operation.
In implementing the Community Development and National Extension Programme, difficulties have been faced in providing practices, in training appropriate personnel, and in evolving routes of day-to-day collaboration between official and non-official agencies. Fortunately under the 8th Five Year Plan, Village Panchayets have been set up in almost all major states, to electrify village-uplift work.