3rd Five Year Plan
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Chapter 20:


When the first set of community projects were taken up nearly nine years ago. community development was described as the method and rural extension as the agency through which the transformation of the social and economic life of villages was to be initiated. During the intervening years the tasks to be accomplished by the community development movement and the national priorities to be realised through it have come to be more precisely defined. At the same time, the concept of rural extension has broadened into that of Panchayati Raj, that is to say, the development of a set of interconnected democratic and popular institutions at the village, block and district levels in which the representatives of the people in the Village Panchayats, Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads and co-operative organisations function with the support and assistance of the various development agencies of Government working together as a team. One of the principal tasks in the Third Plan will be to ensure the growth and working of Panchayati Raj institutions so as to enable each area to realise its maximum development potential on the basis of local man-power and other resources, co-operative self-help and community effort, and effective use of the available resources and personnel.

Review of Development

2. The community development programme now serves over 3,100 development blocks comprising about 370,000 villages. Of these, about 880 blocks have completed more than five years and entered the second stage of the community development programme. By October, 1963, the programme will extend over the entire rural area of the country. The total outlay on community development in the first two Plans has been about Rs. 240 crores. The Third Plan provides for a total outlay of Rs. 294 crores, in addition to about Rs. 28 crores for Panchayats.

3. In the course of the Second Plan, three important developments occurred in the community development programme. At the beginning of the Plan, work had been taken up in 950 development blocks of which about 370 were under the community projects scheme and about 580 under the national extension scheme. In the scheme of organisation prevailing at the time, every block was first taken up in the national extension service scheme, for which a programme budget of Rs. 450,000 was allotted. After a period, which extended from one to two years, a proportion of the national extension projects were taken up under the community development scheme for which the budget allotment was Rs. 15 lakhs. In this way the national extension and community development aspects were regarded as related phases of the same programme. The review undertaken in 1957 by the Study Team set up by the Committee on Plan Projects, led to the adoption of a single scheme of community development which was spread over two stages, each of five years. The first stage envisages a block budget of Rs. 12 lakhs, and the second of Rs. 5 lakhs. With these changes it was also decided to extend the period for covering the entire rural area by three years, from October, 1960 to October, 1963.

4. The second major development concerns the introduction of Panchayati Raj. For many years, the establishment of democratic institutions at the district and block levels, in addition to panchayats at the village level, was felt to be an essential and inevitable step if rural development was to proceed not only rapidly but largely on the basis of local effort and resources. This approach was broadly indicated in the First Plan. The Second Plan clearly visualised a well organised democratic structure of administration within the district in which the village panchayat would be organically linked with popular organisations at higher levels. Pending further study, the Plan offered interim proposals for setting up district development councils and also development committees in the blocks. The recommendations of the Study Team set up by the Committee on Plan Projects in favour of a system of 'democratic decentralisation' were considered by the National Development Council in January, 1958. The Council emphasised that the foundation of any democratic structure had to be democracy in the village. The two institutions which made effective village democracy possible were the village panchayat and the village cooperative. The first step in any area should, therefore, be to establish the network of institutions needed at the village level. Democratic institutions at the district, block and village levels should be viewed as parts of one connected structure of development administration within the district. The Council, therefore, affirmed the objective of introducing democratic institutions at the district and block levels and suggested that each State should work out the structure which suited its conditions best. During the past three years, legislation for the introduction of Panchayati Raj has been enacted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madras. Mysore, Orissa, Punjab and Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh legislation has been passed by the State Legislatures. In Bihar legislation is under consideration, and in Maharashtra and Gujarat proposals have been drawn up by special committees and their reports are being considered. These developments are the fruition of the general approach which has been regarded for the past ten years as basic to rural development under democratic conditions and constitute a most significant step forward.

5. A third aspect of community development work which has assumed considerable importance is the proposal that, along with the district, the block should serve as a unit of planning and development. It was suggested that in the following fields proposals for the Third Plan should be drawn up by States on the basis of district and block plans :

  1. agriculture, including minor irrigation, soil conservation, village forests, animal husbandry, dairying, etc. ;
  2. development of cooperatives;
  3. village industries;
  4. elementary education, specially provision of school buildings for local communities;
  5. rural water supply and the programme of minimum rural amenities, including construction of approach roads linking each village to the nearest road or rail-head;and
  6. works programmes for the fuller utilisation of manpower resources in rural areas.

Although efforts were made in several States to prepare block plans specially in agriculture, in the main, the plans of States have been prepared independently of local plans. The inference to be drawn from this is that much more effort will be needed before local plans can become a distinctive stage in the initial preparation of a Five Year Plan. In the present context of the Third Plan as formulated, what is important is that local plans should be worked out as a means for the more effective implementation of the State Plan.

6. Within the general framework of the district plan. the block plan is intended to include all social and economic activities undertaken within the block which call for (a) planning initiated locally at the block and village levels, and (b) coordination with the plans of various Departments which are implemented within the block. The following are the principal types of activities which will fall within the block plan :

  1. items in the schematic budget of the community development block according to the stage reached;
  2. items included in the budgets of different Departments which can be executed through the block organisation;
  3. works undertaken by the local community or beneficiaries in accordance with the obligations laid down by law;
  4. works involving unskilled and semi-skilled labour undertaken in the block; and
  5. other activities undertaken in the block or by the block organisation with a view to securing greater contribution from local communities in respect of developmentschemes in different fields.

7. The three aspects described above, namely, the extension functions of the community development organisation, introduction of democratic institutions, and the preparation and implementation of area and village plans, are closely related. For carrying out extension activities, each development block has a body of village level workers and a team of technical specialists in agriculture, animal husbandry, cooperation, rural industries and other fields functioning together under the leadership of the Block Development Officer. Supported and guided by senior specialists at the district level, these extension cadres serve the Panchayat Samitis in the Btock and Panchayats and Gram Sabhas in the villages. They have to assist the elected representatives in preparing and implementing technically sound block and village plans on the basis of the widest possible participation on the part of local communities and the maximum use of local manpower and other resources.

Agricultural Extension

8. The principal extension functions entrusted to the community development organisation fall within the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, cooperation and rural industries. It is to these that village level workers are expected to devote the bulk of their time and energy. In the Third Plan, the tasks to be accomplished in the fields of agriculture and cooperation are of formidable dimension. Agricultural production has to be raised by about 90 per cent, and large programmes of minor irrigation, utilisation of irrigation from both large and small irrigation schemes, soil conservation and dry farming, application of fertilisers and development of local manurial resources have to be carried out in the blocks. The programme for cooperation envisages a threefold increase in agricultural credit through cooperative agencies. Increase in agricultural production can only be achieved with the most intensive effort that can be organised at the village level. Increase in cooperative credit also demands the strengthening of the cooperative movement at the base, bringing all families in the village into the cooperative, and ensuring that credit is linked both with production and with marketing. Thus, the basic problem in the rebuilding of the rural economy at present is the organisation of the agricultural effort at the village level. In the measure in which progress is achieved in mobilising the village community for increasing production, every other problem in the rural areas becomes easier of solution and more intensive development can be undertaken in other directions, specially rural industry and the provision of social services. The growth of agricultural production is of such critical importance that, in the immediate context of the Third Plan. the principal test to be met by the community development movement must be its practical effectiveness as an agricultural extension agency. It is, therefore, essential for the community development organisation to take all steps necessary to strengthen itself in this respect, and to accept responsibility for achieving the targets of agricultural production on the basis of the largest possible local effort. At the same time, it is incumbent on the Agriculture Departments and other Departments concerned with agricultural production that they must place at the disposal of the community development organisation at the district and block levels, the necessary expert supervision and guidance and the supplies, trained manpower and other resources needed.

Village Production Plans

9. The principal means for involving all cultivators in the village in the agricultural effort and mobilising effectively the resources of the local community is the village production plan. The main elements in agricultural production programme at the village level are :

  1. full utilisation of irrigation facilities, including maintenance of field channels in good condition by the beneficiaries, repairs and maintenance of community irrigation works and economy in the use of water:
  2. increase in the area under multiple cropping:
  3. multiplication in the village of improved seed and its distribution to all cultivators;
  4. supply of fertilisers;
  5. programme for composting and green manures;
  6. adoption of improved agricultural practices, such as, soil conservation, contour-bunding, dry farming, drainage, land reclamation, plant protection, etc. ;
  7. programme for new minor irrigation works to be undertaken in the village, both through community participation and on an individual basis;
  8. programme for the introduction of improved agricultural implements;
  9. programme for increasing the production of vegetables and fruits:
  10. programme for the development of poultry, fish and dairy products;
  11. animal husbandry, e.g. maintenance of stud bulls and castration of scrub bulls. etc. ; and
  12. programme for the development of the village fuel plantations and pastures.

10. The village production plan includes two main groups of programmes, namely; (a) supply of credit, fertilisers, improved seed, assistance or plant protection, minor irrigation, etc; for which a measure of assistance has to come from outside the village, and (b) programmes such as the digging of field channels for utilising irrigation from large projects, maintenance of bunds and field channels, contour bunding, digging and maintenance of village tanks, development and utilisation of local manurial resources, village fuel plantations, etc. which call for effort on the part of the village community or the beneficiaries. The success of the village production plan will largely depend on the efficient organisation of supplies, credit, etc. and the quality of the technical advice given by extension workers. In the measure in which these services are provided, there will be greater enthusiasm and cooperation from the village community in the second group of programmes mentioned above. In June, 1960, the Ministry of Community Development and Cooperation forwarded proposals to State Governments on these lines, and a number of States have since issued similar instructions. It cannot, however, be said that village production plans are yet established as a normal method of work in agricultural development or that the various practical problems involved have been resolved. In the field of extension, by far the most important task to be undertaken in pursuance of the Third Plan is to give effect to the idea of working out village production plans so as to draw all the cultivators into the common effort and, at the same time, to make, available to individual farmers in an efficient and organised manner the credit, supplies and other assistance needed. The Third Plan devotes considerable resources to minor irrigation and soil conservation, supplies of fertilisers on a large scale have been assured, and resources have been provided for plant protection, improved agricultural implements and other schemes. The programme for setting up seed farms is in an advanced stage and it should now be somewhat easier to arrange for the multiplication in the village of the quantities of improved seed required. Thus, the Third Plan provides for the various factors required for the successful execution of village production plans.

11. The establishment of democratic institutions at the district and block levels and the role assigned to the Gram Sabha and the Village Panchayat constitute fundamental and far-reaching changes in the structure of district administration and in the pattern of rural development. Their significance lies in the fact that, subject to guidance and supervision by the State Government, the responsibility for the implementation of rural development programmes will now belong to the Block Panchayat Samiti working with Panchayats in the villages and the Zila Parishad at the district level. These institutions have not been at work long enough to permit more than a preliminary statement of the problems which are likely to require careful attention. In considering these, certain aspects deserve to be stressed. The primary object of Panchayati Raj is to enable the people of eacit area to achieve intensive and continuous development in the interest of the entire population. The elected representatives should be encouraged to value the development of Panchayati Raj as offering new avenues of service to the people rather than opportunities for the exercise of authority. The concept of Panchayati Raj is not limited to the non-official and democratic organisations associated with it. Representing, as it does, a distinct level of responsibility and functions within the general scheme of administration, Panchayati Raj comprehends both the democratic institutions and the extension services through which development programmes are executed. Extension personnel at the block and village levels, although functioning within the jurisdiction of the Panchayat Samiti, form part of a larger administrative and technical network, which extends to the district and even beyond it. It is vital to the permanent success of Panchayati Raj that the integrity of the structure of technical and administrative services provided by Government and their ability to fulfil the duties and responsibilities cast upon them should be fully ensured, while their knowledge and experience are made available to the elected bodies at the district and block levels. It is also of the highest importance that there should be clear recognition of the distinct role of federal cooperative organisations functioning at the State and district levels, as in the field of banking, marketing, processing, distribution and education and training. Large obligations are undertaken by various cooperative organisations and they should be enabled to fulfil them in accordance with the approach and principles of the cooperative movement. The economic development of rural areas is still in its beginnings and large possibilities lie ahead. It is the object of the new institutions and relationships now being established to help each area to realise these possibilities to the utmost limits of its resources. From this aspect the following are among the main tests by which the success of Panchayati Raj will need to be measured from time to time :

  1. agricultural production as the highest national priority during the Third Plan;
  2. development of rural industry;
  3. development of cooperative institutions;
  4. full utilisation of the local manpower and other resources;
  5. development of facilities for education and audit literacy;
  6. optimum utilisation of resources available to Panchayati Raj institutions such as finance, personnel, technical assistance and other facilities from higher levels, and efforts by them to raise their own resources;
  7. assistance to the economically weaker sections of the village community;
  8. progressive dispersal of authority and initiative with special emphasis on the role o.f voluntary organisations;
  9. understanding and harmony between elected representatives and public servants to be achieved through comprehensive training in education and a clear demarcation of duties and responsibilities, and progressive increase in competence both among officials and non-officials; and
  10. cohesion and mutual self-help within the community.

12. From the limited experience gained so far, the following suggestions are offered for ensuring the effective and successful working of Panchayati Raj Institutions:

(1) while developing institutions at the higher levels, the greatest stress should continue to be laid on the work of the Gram Sabha and the Panchayat at the village level. It is at the village level that the efforts of the people have to be mobilised and there is the largest scope for securing community action. Both on the part of the Gram Sabha and the Village Panchayat the approach of unanimity or near unanimity should be encouraged, so that various activities are undertaken with the general consent and goodwill of the community.

(2) technical officers at the district level should endeavour to make their advice and assistance available to extension officers at the block level and to the Panchayat Samitis for the initial' preparation of programmes and schemes before decisions are taken. In turn, Panchayat Samitis should seek and welcome such assistance since a considerable proportion of extension personnel at the block level are necessarily without adequate experience, but can render better service if they receive the necessary guidance and help from officials at the district level.

(3) the manner in which the block extension team, comprising the Block Development Officer and Extension Officers in different fields of development, functions is of the highest importance for the success of Panchayati Raj. To assist the Panchayat Samiti effectively, these officials must continue to function as a team, the Block Development Officer providing the necessary co-ordination and leadership. and Extension Officers in different fields participating actively in formulating programmes and schemes for the consideration of the Panchayat Samiti and its Standing Committees, executing them impartially in accordance with the rules, and ensuring that the supplies and services needed are organised efficiently. Adequate supervision over the work of the village level workers is essential. Care should be taken to see that the Block Development Officer and the Extension Officers undertake extensive touring within the block and arc not tied up excessively with discussions at headquarters.

(4) in the work of Panchayat Samitis, the main stress should be on the preparation and implementation of carefully considered block plans. These, alongwith village plans, provide the essential means for securing intensive and continuous development. Block and village plans, which are technically well-conceived, will go a long way to counteract ad hoc decisions and local pressures.

(5) the introduction of Panchayati Raj enhances greatly the responsibility of the technical departments at the State level. They should transmit the best guidance and experience available in each field of development, provide for adequate training programmes for the elected representatives, and assist them generally in fulfilling the onerous responsibilities which Panchayati Raj places on them.

(6) the Collector of the district will continue to have a large share of responsibility in facilitating the success of Panchayati Raj Institutions. He has the duty of ensuring coordination at the district level between the Zila Parishad and the technical officers in different fields, close contacts between the latter and the Panchayat Samitis and Extension Officers at the block level, and a continuing flow of technical advice and guidance from departments at the State level. An important aspect of the Collector's work will be to assist democratic institutions and the public services in developing the right conventions in day-today work and in administrative relationship based on recognition of their distinctive contribution in fulfilling common objectives.

13. For the effective implementation of the programme of community development, several technical Departments have to work together in a coordinated manner. If the vast majority of cultivators are to be assisted to utilise the results of research and to practise scientific agriculture, adequate assistance in the form of technical advice and supplies of improved implements, seeds, fertilisers and credit must reach them at the right time. It is essential for the success of these complex but vital programmes that the responsibility of all official agencies and organisations concerned should be properly defined and there should be no ambiguity in the responsibility of the higher technical officers to provide the necessary guidance and supervision. In other words, in these matters, an uninterrupted line of responsibility reaching down to the village units should be assured: While the responsibility of the official agency is defined and enforced as above, the functions of non-official leaders should be :

  1. to mobilise public participation and promote the acceptance of programmes by the people;
  2. to assist village panchayats and cooperatives in their work;
  3. to assist in training programmes for village leaders and others;
  4. to organise programmes for the benefit of the community, using local man-power resources; and
  5. to promote the welfare of the weaker sections.

Rationalisation of District Administration

14. The introduction of Panchayati Raj raises the wider question of the reorganisation of district administration. It is not generally realised that over the past decade changes in district administration have been somewhat haphazard. When the community development programme was taken up, the extension organisation had to be superimposed on the traditional district administration without adequate connecting links. The consequence is that in many districts the following organisations are working on parallel lines with their activities largely uncoordinated :

  1. the revenue administration which looks after certain specified development functions, such as taccavi advances, recoveries, etc. ;
  2. the established Development Departments at the district, taluka and other levels;
  3. the community development organisation with block officers and village level workers, linked at the village level with panchayats and cooperatives; and
  4. Local Boards (where these have not yet been abolished).

With the introduction of Panchayati Raj, the functions of Panchayat Samitis include both community development activities and several activities hitherto entrusted to Local Boards. In the nature of things, there is still considerable overlapping which calls for some measure of rationalisation in district administration and fresh definition of functions and relationships.

15. From time to time evaluation reports on the community development programme have drawn attention to the fact that the benefits did not reach the less privileged sections if the village community in adequate measure. Recent studies report a degree of improvement in this respect. A study group set up by the Ministry of Community Development and Cooperation is at present engaged in considering how far and in what manner the community development programme can promote the economic development and welfare of the weaker sections of the community. The problem should be seen in the broader context of development within the rural economy. The welfare of weaker sections is closely related to that of the village community as a whole, and in a sense a large part of the village community consists of those who may be described as being economically weak. The main weaknesses of the present village economy are low income, low productivity and lack of continuous employment. Without the rural economy as a whole growing rapidly enough, it is difficult to solve the problem either of the community in the village or of its weaker sections. The essential aim must be to bring about a more productive agricultural economy and a larger range of non-agricultural occupations in the village so as to increase production and employment and, at the same time, much greater attention should be given in all activities to the needs of the less privileged sections.

16. In the efforts which have been made over the past three years to secure greater coordination between the community development and Gramdan movements, their common objectives have been emphasised. These include the acceptance by the village community of responsibility for the welfare, employment and livelihood of all its members. This is of the greatest importance from the point of view of the weaker sections in the village.

17. The block organisation can render useful service by assisting the implementation of the land reform legislation which has been already enacted by creating public opinion and educating the people in their rights and obligations. Other measures which the block organisation can take to the immediate advantage of the weaker sections of the population are to increase subsidiary employment in the villages, raise the productivity of village industries and of village artisans, organise labour cooperatives, and promote the fullest possible utilisation of the manpower resources of the area. The programme of rural works leading to employment opportunities by the last year of the Third Plan for about 2.5 million persons specially during the slack agricultural seasons, will be implemented to a large extent through community development organisations. The programme will be extended first to areas with heavy pressure of population and considerable under-employment, and later to other areas. This programme should afford an opportunity of the highest value not only for providing additional employment, but aJso for implementing the community development programme with fresh emphasis on the maximum possible utilisation of local manpower resources and effort and participation on the part of local communities.

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