The concept of regional development is based on the development of specific regions. It is generally undertaken where Regional differences exist and where a particular is to be developed (Ninth Five Year Plan, p. 17). Regional Development is carried through the regional planning which is a technique to evaluate the potential of sub-natural areas and to develop them to the best advantages of the nation as a whole (Misra, R.P., 1992, p.57).
Like the national planning the regional planning also has the objective of accelerating the process of social advancement of the community through the technique of economic and social planning, though it is restricted to the given region <}r area of the country. The major objective of the regional development is to remove regional disparities in respect of economic and social development and bring out the region at par with other regions of the country.
It is a significant means to remove regional backwardness, meet regional aspirations and demands, make optimum and judicious use of regional resources, solve regional problems and involve local people in plan formulation and implementation. It may also help in conserving the environment and cultural heritage of a particular region.
The planning for regional development involves identifying the regionalism present, demarcating the region, determining the need of the region, formulating the plan, implementing the plan within the framework of government set up and reviewing the implementation of the plan (Misra, R.P.,1992).
Such planning should also take into account the problems to be tackled, objectives of the planning, availability of the resources, policy alternatives and their impacts, type of investment needed, cost of planning, planning priorities, design and layout, policy decision and the implementing authority.
Regional development has two dimensions, i.e., (i) conceptual base, and (ii) implementation of development plans and policies. The need for regional development was felt since the beginning of the planning era in the country.
That is why during the first and second five-year plans special attention was given to develop backward areas. A number of new industrial centers were located in backward areas to provide boost up to the regional economy and create employment opportunities for local people. During the Third Five Year Plan it was decided to accelerate the industrial and agricultural activities on the regional basis to achieve the goal of balanced regional development. But at the end of the plan it was realized that there has not been considerable progress in realizing the objective of balanced regional development.
The Fourth Five Year Plan marks a watershed in Indian planning, as it spelt out, for the first time, some distinct regional policies and took certain concrete steps towards balanced regional development. Since the Fourth Plan it was realized that in order to reach the social and economic goals of development, a greater diffusion and growth of activity and employment at local levels would be needed. Hence, some attempts were made to decentralize the planning process to the sub- national and sub-state levels.
This change may be seen as a shift towards more enlightened approach to the understanding of regional problems, assesflment of local and regional needs and initiation programmes that may benefit local areas or ergot.
Another compulsion which stimulated iflgional thinking at this time was the great concern the widening interregional disparities in the country For instance, during the decade between 1960 an! 1970, the difference in per capita net domestic product among states had increased from 1.9; 1.0 to 2.fl 1.0. Such vast regional disparities in the country had their political repercussions in some areas, which brought the problem of backward areas into sharp focus.
Among the backward areas, the need to accelerate development of areas inhabited by certain social groups like the tribal’s, who had been bypassed® during the development process, had become a priority issue. Simultaneously the need was felt forB directing effort towards building elements of special I assistance to small and marginal farmers and agri-B cultural labourers in the area development programmers.
These considerations led to the evolution I of a definite “target area” and “target group” approach in planning, which must be seen as important I developments since the Fourth Plan (Sundaram, I 1978, pp.73-74). Therefore, in the Fourth Plan measures were initiated to consider backward regions in I the allocation of financial assistance to the states, (ii) I to install central projects in the backward areas, (iii) I to make provision of financial support to medium I and small industries in the backward areas, and (iv) to provide special financial assistance to small and 1 marginal farmers and agricultural labourers in rural areas.
The measures introduced during the Fourth Plan have been continued and even enlarged during the Fifth Plan. During the Sixth Plan programmes of technology up gradation and technology transfer were initiated to strengthen the resource base of the region. Presently the concept is to develop the backward regions as an integral part of the overall planning process.
The salient features of the policy/ programme which are guiding regional development include: (1) An interregional allocation policy tilted in favour of backward States, (2) An incentive policy designed to attract investments in industrially backward regions and areas, (3) A sub-plan approach for some special problem areas to ensure that
investments from the state and Central sectors flow to such areas in a coordinated manner to undertake programme and schemes specially designed to their interests and needs, and (4) A social justice approach towards provision of minimum needs so that the disadvantaged areas may achieve parity in items of social consumption.