Progress of community development: the community development programme, which has now become a part of the rural development programme, was launched on 2nd October 1952. There are at present 5,004 development blocks in the country. The aim of the programme is to bring about an overall development of rural India covering resources and cultural and economic aspects of the community life.
This is sought to be achieved thought he fullest development of available human and material resources on an area basis and there by raising the rural community to higher levels of living with the active participation of the people themselves. The highest priority in the programme is accorded to agriculture. Other important sectors include improvement of communication, health, sanitation, housing, education, rural employment, welfare of rural women and children and cottage and small scale industries.
At present a community development block covers an area of about 620 esq. With around 100 villages and a population of about 10, 00,000. Supply of funds for the blocks remained mainly the responsibility of the central government till the end of the Third Plan. But from the beginning of the Fourth Plan the financial arrangement became the responsibility of the states as the scheme was transferred to the state sector.
The ministry of rural reconstruction lays down the broad policy relating to the community development programme. Though the main responsibility for the execution of the programme is that of state governments, the central government helps in developing special programme with central assistance and guidance.
Although a standard staffing pattern has been envisaged for the development blocks, it remains flexible from state to state for operational purposes according to the programme requirements and the size of the blocks. Generally, the cadre authority for the block development rural development/Panchayati raj in the concerned states while the cadre authority for extension officers is their respective parental departments in the states.
The block development officer chairman of panchayat Samiti exercises administrative control over block extension staff in most of the states, although there are deviations in some states from the general pattern.
During the fourth Five Year Plan, 46 small farmer development agencies (SFDA) and 41 Marginal Farmers and agricultural laborer’s (MFAL) projects were initiated to improve the economic conditions of the weaker sections and generate better self employment opportunities. These projects seek to tackle the problems of weaker section through special agencies set up for the purpose.
In the fifth Plan all the SFDA/MFAL projects were made composite and each agency was required to assist small and marginal farmers and agricultural laborers in its area of operation. The number of agencies had increased to 168 in the Fifth Plan.
For the purpose of these programmes, a small farmer is defined as one having a land holding of 2.5 to 5 acres and marginal farmer below 2.5 acres of dry land. In the case of irrigated lands, the limits of land holding are generally 50 percent of those indicated above. The landless agricultural laborers is taken as one who does not have any land holding, but has a permanent homestead and derives more than half of his earning from agricultural pursuits.
The functions of the agencies are to identify the participant’s according to norms land down, draw up suitable programmes for improved agriculture and subsidiary occupations, arrange credit through institutional sources and get the programmes executed through the existing development and extension agencies in the project areas.
The agencies implement various types of development schemes for the identified participants. The main thrust in the project areas is on crop husbandry. Programmes of subsidiary occupations are also taken up depending upon the suitability of the area for a particular programme and the availability of marketing facilities. The programme for improved agriculture includes land development, soil conservation, minor irrigation, horticulture, demonstrations, introduction of new improved crop varieties, adoption of multiple cropping pattern, etc.
Considerable stress is also laid on the adoption of dry land farming techniques and water harnessing measure in rain fed areas. The subsidiary occupations include supply of milk, cows and buffaloes, poultry, piggery, sheep and goat rearing and fisheries. Programmes for the development of rural artisans and rural industries are also taken up by the agencies.
The identified small farmers are allowed subsidies up to 25 per cent and marginal farmers and agricultural laborers up to 331/3 percent of the investment cost for various programmes like minor irrigation, land development, soil conservation, animal husbandry, etc. A ceiling of Rs.3, 000 has been laid down for such subsidy from project fund and to individual participant during the entire project period. In the case of group’s community projects like community irrigation works, liberal subsidiary of 50 percent is allowed from the projects funds.
Keeping in view the economic backwardness of the farmers belonging tot he category of Scheduled Tribes, liberal rate of subsidy of 50 percent has been allowed for taking up individual and community minor irrigation works subject to a maximum ceiling of Rs 5,000 during the project period. The agencies also extend subsidy on custom service charges provided such services are arranged through the state agriculture department of agro Industries Corporation or other recognised institutions.
The agencies also provide risk fund at 4 percent on the additional quantum of short term loans advanced to identified beneficiaries by the Primary Agricultural Credit Co-operative societies and at 2 percent tot eh Central Co operative Banks. The same rates apply for medium term loans, also but calculated with reference to the total quantum of loans for long term loans it is at the rate of 2 percent of the total quantum of loans advanced to identified participants are also encouraged to become members of Co operatives.
For this purpose, interest free loan for the purchase of four shares of Rs 40 is given by the agency to the small marginal farmers and agricultural laborers. Similarly medium term loan up to 10.00 lakhs is given by the agencies to the Central Co-operative Bank in the project area where the bank is not able to advance loans for lack of resources, to provide non overdue cover, for borrowings from the Reserve Bank of India.
In addition, emphasis is laid on linking of credit with marketing and the agencies provide 2 per cent rebate on the interest on short term production loans. If the agricultural produce is marketed through the Co operatives. Some assistance is also available for the development of regulated markets and construction of storage go downs.
During the Fourth Plan, agencies managerial subsidy to co operatives. Some assistance is also available for the development of infrastructure facilities so as to support various programmes for the beneficiaries. During the Fifth Plan, however managerial subsidy was limited to technical staff employed by the farmer’s services societies and large sized multipurpose societies.
Small assistance for infrastructure development like setting up of milk collection centers, chilling plants etc., was also available to co operative and the large programmes are being implemented through existing organisations, government departments and extension staff of the state governments. Credit for participants is arranged through the co –operatives and commercial banks in the protect areas.
Minor Irrigation Programmes:
The Government of India during 1978-79 extended benefit of subsidy for minor irrigation programmes of Agricultural Refinance and Development Corporation of similar type to all the small and marginal farmers outside the special programme areas like SFDA, DPAP, CADP, and Desert Development, etc.
In order to benefit farmers holding land between 2 to 4 hectares the central government during 1979-80 decided that subsidy at the rate of 20 percent of the capital cost for individual minor irrigation programme will be given to all the farmers in this category. The programme is to be implemented through the SFDA agencies in their area of operation and the state government will execute the work in those areas where the SGDA agencies are not in operation.
Drought Prone areas programme:
The drought prone areas programme aims at long term development of areas frequently affected by drought through integrated development of local resources in agriculture and allied sectors. The programme seeks to raise the productive capacity of these areas in order to ensure sustained of the Rural and employment particularly to the vulnerable sections of the relief and create a potential within these Ares to cope up with such natural hazards.
The drought prone areas are identified on the basis of factors such as high frequency of drought, low and or erratic distribution of rainfall, low extent of assured irrigation facilities etc. The programme now covers 74 districts of 13 states in part or full, spreading over 557 community development blocks.
Since the fifth plan the emphasis of the programme has been on restoration of a proper ecological balance, development and management of irrigation resources, conservation of soil and dry land agriculture. As the major problems of these areas are due to serious and persistent disturbance of the ecological balance, due emphasis is given for improvement of range lands, introduction of controlled grazing, forestation, shelter belts and wind breaks, stabilisation of sand dunes etc, as these areas have a built in advantage for dairy development. It is given adequate importance.
Livestock production Programme:
The special livestock production programme is aimed at providing employment opportunities to the weaker sections and the rural masses. In 1979-80(up to September 1979), a total of 268 projects were functioning in 183 districts of various states union territories and benefited 94,830 small farmers marginal farmers agricultural laborers, members of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes bringing the total numbers of persons benefited to 2, 56,300.
The programme is being implemented on a subsidy can loan basis. Loans are arranged through the nationalised and the co operative banks. The centrally sponsored scheme for cross breed calf rearing provides feed subsidy at the rate of 50 percent to small and marginal farmers and 66.2 percent to agricultural laborers.
Under the central sector scheme for poultry, piggery and sheep production, the subsidy is given to the extent of 25 percent to small farmers and 33, 1/3 per cent marginal farmers and agricultural laborers and 50 percent to the members of the Scheduled Tribes. The unit size of poultry, sheep and piggery has been raised so as to provide gainful employment to agricultural laborers and other identified beneficiaries under the programme.
Integrated Rural Development:
Integrated Rural Development (IRD) involves the better integration of various components of special area development programmes for the benefit of weaker sections of the community includes Scheduled Castes and Tribes and for tackling the problems of rural under employment and unemployment. The focus of the programmes is on the target groups consisting of small marginal farmers, landless laborers, share croppers, rural artisans, etc.
Who are presently below the poverty line? The programme covers those rural development blocks where any of the special programmes namely, ‘small farmer’s development agency’, drought prone areas already in operation and also those areas development programme ‘are already in operation and also those areas where no special programme is operating.
The primary objective of IRD programme is to generate additional employment and raise the income level of identified target groups. For achieving these objectives, the identified beneficiaries are provided subsidy for taking up various activities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. While the intensification of development effort in agriculture and other allied activities will create additional employment opportunities, this, in itself may not be able to solve the problem of unemployment and under employment in the rural areas.
It is in this context that secondary and tertiary sectors have also been included for getting assistance under the IRD programme. The other important feature of the programme is that instead of providing assistance on a piecemeal basis to the identified beneficiaries, the programme aims at adopting the family as a unit and enables the family to undertake productive investment on various schemes the returns of which are large enough to lift the family above the poverty line. The programme thus, aims at providing a package of schemes of the identified family and assists it to cross the poverty line.
Under the integrated rural development programme an attempt has been made to integrate the area and the beneficiary development approaches. Initially it was though that the funds provided under the programme should be entirely utilised for financing the subsidy component of the schemes eligible for assistance under the programme. But it was soon realised that investment on infrastructure will be necessary.
If the identified beneficiaries are to derive maximum benefit from the assistance provided to them under this programme. It was therefore decided to utilise 10 percent of the outlay provided under the programme for the development of infrastructure.
It has been estimated that on an average, an investment of Rs.5, 000 would enable a rural family to get fully employed. As the major part of the funds provided under IRD programmes are to be used for financing subsidy component of the schemes, on the basis of the existing pattern of subsidy under the programme, a direct investment of Rs.1, 500 from IRD funds should enable a family to go above the poverty line. This however assumes that necessary loan support of twice or thrice this amount is provided by the institutional sector.
On the basis of these estimates, the number of families that can be raised above the poverty line during one year will be about 300 in blocks for which the outlay is Rs.5 lakhs and 600 in blocks where the outlay is Rs.10 lakhs per block. The programme is intrinsically linked with the availability of bank credit and the banks will have to assume a major responsibility if the programme is to make a real success.
Applied Nutrition Programme:
The applied Nutrition Programme a centrally sponsored scheme in collaboration with UNICEF is intended to educate the rural people on improved nutrition. The programme specially aims at securing the needed nutritional supplements for children below five years and expectant and nursing mothers. The Gram Panchayats, Yuvak and Mahila Mandals are associated with the production of nutritional foods.
Looking at the above statistical data of the progress, both social and economic, achieved by the community development projects in villages, it becomes apparent that these projects have ignored many social and economic problems like the problem of the condition of the landless laborers, the problem of the backward condition of village and cottage industries etc.
Secondly even those social and economic problems which have received attention in these projects are not being solved in an appropriate manner. For example, the provision of free and compulsory education is as yet a thing of the future. The Programme Evolution Organisation established by the Planning commission put forward numerous criticisms of the community development programmes in its reports, of which the major ones are given below:
1) Lack of the solution of local problems:
There is a lack of the solution of local rural problems in the community development projects. This not only hinders the progress of development programme, but it also decreases the faith of the public in these projects.
2) Dearth of harmony within the government department:
The community development organisation is not in proper harmony with the other governmental development departments.
3) Shortage of necessary implements:
There is an acute shortage of required necessary implements in the developments programmes and as a result even the work which is started cannot be complete.
4) Shortage of trained personnel:
Much effort has been made for training the officials in community development projects but even then trained people are not available in required numbers.
5) Absence of proper public co operation:
The community development programmes could not become public movements, at present they are not getting the proper active co operation of the public.
6) Shortage of female village workers:
There is a great need for trained female workers for the emancipation of the rural women but, at present they exist in very small number.
Actually there is an urgent need for increasing the awareness of the public towards the plans for the success of the community development projects. Some suggestions of which a few are given below have been made in this connection.
1) Grater emphasis upon local problems:
The pattern of the community development projects should not be same everywhere. These projects should lay more stress upon the solution of problem as peculiar to the locality.
2) Appointment of officials acquainted with rural conditions:
Another way of arousing the interest of the public towards the community development project is to appoint officials who are acquainted with the rural culture and its way and are also sympathetic and respectful towards them, in order that they may be able to mix up with the villagers and to make these plans the projects and aspiration of people.
3) Appointment of workers both male and female selected from the villages as far as possible:
Another way of awakening the sense of ownership in villagers towards the projects is to appoint or select the male and female village workers from among the villagers themselves.
4) Organisation of the maximum possible training camps in the village:
If a maximum possible number of training camps are held in the villages, the villagers will undoubtedly reciprocate heartily and will take a greater interest in the projects.
5) More work and less propaganda:
The officials detailed for the implementation of the development projects should adopt the principle of ‘more work and less propaganda’. It will result in public showing greater faith in the projects.
6) Establishing youth organisations and eliciting their co operation:
Before starting the programme of development in the villages youth organisation would be established and the programme of development should be started with their co operation when such organisation is well under way. The result of this move will be that the whole village will soon start taking interest in this programme.