8th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)
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Agricultural and Allied Activities || Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation || Irrigation, Command Area Development and Flood Control || Environment and Forests || Industry and Minerals || Village and Small Industries and Food Processing Industries || Labour and Labour Welfare || Energy || Transport || Communication, Information and Broadcasting || Education, Culture and Sports || Health and Family Welfare || Urban Development || Housing, Water Supply and Sanitation || Social Welfare || Welfare and Development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes || Special Area Development Programmes || Science and Technology || Plan Implementation and Evaluation



2.1.1 Alleviation of rural poverty has been one of the primary objectives of planned development in India. Ever since the inception of planning, the policies and the programmes have been designed and redesigned with this aim. The problem of rural poverty was brought into a sharper focus during the Sixth Plan. The Seventh Plan too emphasised growth with social justice. It was realised that a sustainable strategy of poverty alleviation has to be based on increasing the productive employment opportunities in the process of growth itself. However, to the extent the process of growth bypasses some sections of the population, it is necessary to formulate specific poverty alleviation programmes for generation of a certain minimum level of income for the rural poor.

2.1.2 Rural development implies both the economic betterment of people as well as greater social transformation. Increased participation of people in the rural development process, decentralisation of planning, better enforcement of land reforms and greater access to credit and inputs go a long way in providing the rural people with better prospects for economic development. Improvements in health, education, drinking water, energy supply, sanitation and housing coupled with attitudinal changes also facilitate their social development.

2.1.3 Rural poverty is inextricably linked with low rural productivity and unemployment, including underemployment. Hence» it is imperative to improve productivity and increase employment in rural areas. Moreover, more employment needs to be generated at higher levels of productivity in order to generate higher output. Employment at miserably low levels of productivity and incomes is already a problem of far greater magnitude than unemployment as such. It is estimated that in 1987-88 the rate of unemployment was only 3 per cent and inclusive of the underemployed, it was around 5 per cent. As per the currently used methodology in the Planning Commission, poverty for the same year was estimated to be 30 per cent. This demonstrates that even though a large proportion of the rural population was "working" it was difficult for them to eke out a living even at subsistence levels from it. It is true that there has been a considerable decline in the incidence of rural poverty over time. In terms of absolute. numbers of poor, the decline has been much less. While this can be attributed to the demographic factor, the fact remains that after 40 years of planned development about 200 million are still poor in rural India. In 1987-88, the rural poverty line in terms of per capita monthly expenditure was Rs. 131.80. The average incidence of rural poverty conceals wide inter-state differences which suggests that greater attention needs to be paid to the regions which have a greater concentration of the rural poor. In recent years, several issues have been raised about the methodology of poverty estimation, both by professionals and State Governments. An Expert Group appointed by the Planning Commission is looking into these issues relating to the definition and measurement of poverty.

2.1.4 The decline in rural poverty is attributable both to the growth factor and to the special employment programmes launched by the Government in order to generate more incomes in the rural areas. Hence, in its more limited interpretation, rural development has been confined to a direct attack on poverty through special employment programmes, area development programmes and land reforms. These will be reviewed in this chapter. In addition, the role of the Panchayati Raj Institutions and voluntary organisations in the implementation of these programmes has also to be kept in view. A review of the on-going programmes is presented in the first part of the Chapter. In the second part, the approach and strategy for the Eighth Plan are spelt out.

Review of the Existing Programmes

Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)

2.2.1 Under the IRDP, those living below the defined poverty line in rural areas are identified and given assistance for acquisition of product live assets or appropriate skills for self-employment, which in turn, should generate enough income to enable the beneficiaries to rise above the poverty line.

2.2.2 This scheme was launched in the Sixth Plan. Its assessment at the end of the Sixth Plan period revealed several shortcomings. Keeping this in view and the feed-back received from the State Governments, suitable changes were introduced in the guidelines for the IRDP in the Seventh Plan. The poverty line was based at Rs.6400, but those eligible for assistance under the IRDP had to have an average annual income of Rs.4800 or less. It was assumed that those households with income levels between Rs.4800 and Rs.6400 would be able to rise above the poverty line in the process of growth itself. It was targetted that 20 million families would be assisted under IRDP during the Seventh Plan of which 10 million were new households and 10 million old beneficiaries who had been unable to cross the poverty line and required a second dose.

2.2.3 During the Seventh Plan, me subsidy expenditure on IRDP was Rs.3316 crores which was in excess of the target of Rs.3000 crores. The total investment including the institutional credit amounted to Rs.8688 crores. In quantitative terms, the physical achievement of about 18 million households fell short of the original target of 20 million households but exceeded the cumulative target which was only 16 million families. The sectoral composition indicates that, of all the schemes selected under IRDP, 44 per cent were in the primary sector, 18.5 per cent in the secondary sector and 37.5 per cent in the tertiary sector. The salient features of the IRDP performance during the Seventh Plan and 1990-91 are given in Appendix I.

2.2.4 A system of concurrent evaluation of the IRDP programme was also introduced under which data were collected by independent research institutions for the entire country on a sample basis. Statewise details of performance are available. The findings suggest that the IRDP was quite successful in terms of providing incremental income to poor families. However, the number of households able to cross the poverty line was relatively small. It may be partly due to the low levels of initial investment. On the other hand, it is also difficult to expect banks to raise the per capita loan assistance to beneficiaries, given the excessive overdues pending. In order to enhance the economic returns from an asset, it is necessary to integrate this scheme with the development plans of an area so that select activities become viable. This aspect will be discussed in Part E.

Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM)

2.3.1 TRYSEM was introduced in 1979 to provide technical skills and to upgrade the traditional skills of rural youth belonging to families below the poverty line. Its aim was to enable the rural youth to take up self- employment ventures in different spheres across sectors by giving them assistance under IRDP. Later, in 1987 the scope of the programme was enlarged to include wage employment also for the trained beneficiaries.

2.3.2 During the Seventh Plan about 10 lakh youth were trained under TRYSEM, of which 47 per cent took up self- employment and 12 per cent wage employment. The remaining 41 per cent could not avail of either. On the other hand, a sizeable proportion of IRDP beneficiaries who needed training could not receive it. In fact, only 6 to 7 per cent of IRDP beneficiaries were trained under TRYSEM. During 1990-91 the number of youth trained were 2.6 lakhs, of which 70 per cent got employed.

Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)

2.4.1 In 1982-83 an exclusive scheme for women was launched in the IRDP, as a pilot project, in 50 districts. In the Seventh Plan it was extended to more districts and at the end of the Seventh Plan period it was in operation in 161 districts. Under DWCRA, a group of women are granted assistance to take up viable economic activities with Rs. 15,000 as a one-time grant to be used as a revolving fund. In the Seventh Plan about 28,000 groups could be formed against the target of 35,000 with a membership of 4.6 lakh women. During 1990-91, against a target of 7,500 groups, 7,139 were actually formed.

2.4.2 While, in principle, this scheme is a sound one, in operationalising it the impadt has been inadequate. This is perhaps due to 'a lack of cohesion among women groups formed under DWCRA and their inability to identify activities that could generate sustained incomes. In this sphere, the role of voluntary organisations would be crucial in organising women to take up group-based economic activities which are viable within the context of an area development plan. Experiments in some States to form women's thrift and credit societies first, and then start them on economic work have been successful.

Wage Employment Programmes

2.5.1 In 1989, the erstwhile National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) was merged into a single rural wage-employment programme called the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana. However, given that in the first four years of the Seventh Plan, the NREP and RLEGP were in operation, a brief review of these two programmes is given below.

National Rural Employment Programme (NREP)

2.6.1 The entitlement of each State to the Central fund was based on the incidence of poverty and the population of agricultural labourers, marginal farmers and marginal workers with 50 per cent weightage to each. However, the Centre and State shared the expenditure equally on a 50:50 basis. Some broad indicators of the performance both physical and financial are set-out in the table below:

2.6.2 A concurrent evaluation of NREP re vealed that several types of assets were created. with 24.6 per cent expenditure on rural ruatk and 19.1 per cent on social forestry. Construction was a main activity with 11.9 per cent or; schools, 12.1 per cent on houses and 6.4 per cent on panchayat ghars; 6.5 per cent was directed to minor irrigation and 3.3 per cent to wells for drinking water.

Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP)

2.7.1 This was a totally Centrally financed programme introduced in 1983. While most of the objectives and stipulations under this were similar to those of NREP, it was to be limited only to the landless, with guaranteed employment of 100 days. Moreover, there was earmarking of funds specifically for certain activities- 25 per cent for social forestry, 10 per cent for works benefitting only the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and 20 per cent for housing under Indira Awaas Yojana. In the Seventh Plan, Rs.2412 crores were spent and 115 crore mandays were generated with an average expenditure of Rs.21.00 per manday. Only 16 per cent had been spent on social forestry but 22 per cent had been spent on housing,- with over 5 lakh houses created for SC/ST and freed bonded labourers. Rural roads accounted for 22 per cent while other construction, minor irrigation, soil conservation etc. each had a small share.

Performance of NREP in the Seventh Five Year Plan

Year Resource availability
(Rs. crores)
(Rs. crores)
Employment Generation
(in million mandays)
Manday Cost(Rs.) Wage-Non-
Wage Ratio
1985-86 593.08 531.95 316.41 16.81 60:40
1986-87 765.13 717.77 395.39 18.15 60-40
1987-88 888.21 788.31 370.77 21.26 59:41
1988-89 845.68 901.84 394.96 22.83 57:43

The physical and financial achievements, are presented below:

Performance of RLEGP in the Seventh Plan

Year Resource availability
(Rs. crores)
(Rs. crores)
Employment Generation
(in million mandays)
Cost (Rs.)
Wage Ratio
1985-86 580.35 453.17 2.47.58 18.30 57:43
1986-87 649.96 635.91 306.14 20.77 57:43
1987-88 648.41 653.53 304.11 21.49 58:42
1988-89 761.55 669.37 296.56 22.57 58:42

Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY)

2.7.2 In the last year of the Seventh Plan, JRY was launched with a total allocation of Rs. 2600 crores to generate 931 million mandays of employment. The primary objective of the programme is generation of additional employment on productive works which would either be of sustained benefit to the poor' or contribute to the creation of rural infrastructure. Under this programme, Centre's contribution is 80 per cent, and 20 per cent is the State's share. The JRY is implemented in all villages in the country.

2.7.3 Central assistance is provided to the States on the basis of proportion of the rural poor in a State/UT to the total rural poor in the country. From the States to the districts, the allocations are made on an index of backwardness which is formulated on the following basis:

  1. 20 per cent weightage for the proportion of agricultural labourers in the total workers in the rural areas.
  2. 60 per cent weightage to the proportion of rural scheduled castes and tribes population in relation to the total rural population; and
  3. 20 per cent weightage to the inverse of agricultural productivity.

2.7.4 Of the total allocations at the State level 6 per cent of the total resources are earmarked for housing under the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) which are allotted to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and freed bonded labour. In addition, 20 per cent are earmarked for Million Wells Scheme (MWS). In fact, this scheme was launched as a special feature both under NREP and RLEGP in 1988-89. The objective is to provide open wells, free of cost, to poor SC/ST farmers in the category of small and marginal farmers, and to free bonded labourers. However, where such wells are not feasible, the amounts allotted may be utilised for other schemes of minor irrigation like irrigation tanks, water harvesting structures and also for development of lands of SCs/STs and freed bonded labourers including ceiling surplus and bhoodan lands. A maximum of 2 per cent of JRY funds are to be spent as administrative costs inclusive of any additional staff.

2.7.5 After providing for the above earmarking, 20 per cent of the remaining funds are retained at the district level and 80 per cent are allocated to village panchayats by giving 60 per cent weightage to SC/ST population and 40 per cent to the total population of the village panchayat. The responsibility of implementation of JRY in respect of district share of funds is that of DRDA/Zilla Parishad, but at the village level it is that of the Gram Panchayat. In case two or more districts/gram panchayats decide to pool the resources together to take up a work for the common benefit of the concerned dis-trict/panchayat, the arrangement is permissible.

2.7.6 Works can be taken up for execution during any part of the year whenever the need for generating supplementary employment is felt, preferably during the lean agricultural season but could continue during the busy agricultural period too, if required. A maximum of 10 per cent of the annual allocation can be used for incurring expenditure on maintenance of such assets at the district/gram panchayat levels which have been created under the erstwhile programme of NREP/RLEGP or have been created under JRY and have not to be taken over by a department of the State Government.

2.7.7 There is earmarking of resources at the district level too but after deducting for administrative and maintenance costs, the funds available for sectoral works are untied. However, there is no sectoral earmarking of resources at the village panchayat level except that 15 per cent of the annual allocation must be spent on works directly beneficial to SCs/STs. The types of works, to be taken up under the village panchayats are to be based on the felt needs of the people. There js 30 per cent reservation for women. Sixty per cent of the total unit cost is to be spent on wages and 40 per cent on materials. Contractors and other intermediaries are not permitted in the execution of the works. Minimum wages, fixed by the State, are required to be paid. There are considerable inter- State variations in the minimum wage - rates, ranging from Rs. 13.70 to Rs.34.00 per day for unskilled work. These differences account for variations in the Statwise unit cost of generating one man-day of employment ranging from Rs.22.83 to Rs.56.67. While in the earlier wage-employment programmes, part of the wage payment had to be in kind, in terms of certain quantity of foodgrains, under the JRY this was made optional. Consequently, while in 1986-87 the offtake of foodgrains was as high as 22 lakh tonnes, in 1990-91 it was only 1.36 lakh tonnes.

2.7.8 The financial and physical performance during 1989-90 and 1990-91 are given below:

2.7.9 The assets created under JRY and the expenditure under each head is given in Appendix-4. Road construction was the primary activity accounting for a little less than 30 per cent of the expenditure while minor irrigation, housing, construction of school and community buildings, wells and social forestry were the other sectors where JRY funds flowed. The expenditure on housing and wells increased between 1989-90 and 1990-91, while that under social forestry declined. The earmarking for housing under Indira Awaas Yojana and for wells and the MWS would definitedly have contributed to this. Under the IAY, 8.6 lakh houses have been constructed and 2.6 lakh wells have been dug under MWS. These would have benefitted the scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes.

2,7.10 A concurrent evaluation has been initiated which will be completed by the end of the year. In the meantime, a quick evaluation of JRY has also been undertaken.

Selected State level Employment Programmes

Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS)

2.8.1 The Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) is a unique experiment which was started in 1971-72 for providing gainful employment in rural areas and "C" class muncipal areas. Guaranteed unskilled manual work is provided to adults who register themselves for work. Only productive works with unskilled wage component of more than 60% are taken up under the scheme. In the last two to three years, the EGS has been improved and modified. Under the "Shram Shakti Divare Gram Vikas", individual beneficiary's scheme will be taken up at the cost of the Government in the case of lands owned by small and marginal farmers, but for other categories 50 per cent of the expenditure will be borne by the concerned cultivator/beneficiary. Again, a horticulture programme with the target of covering a total of 10 lakh ha. during the Eighth Plan has been launched at Government cost on lands of SC/STs/small farmers/NTS. On other lands, Government and the beneficiaries bear the expenditure on materials in the ratio 75:25.

( Rs. Lakhs ) Employment (lakh mandays )


Utilisation Target Achievement


2.8.2 The resources for the scheme are raised by the State Government by (i) levying a number of taxes/additional taxes/surcharges on profession, trade, motor vehicles, sales tax, irrigated agricultural land, land revenue and non-residential land and (ii) a contribution equal to the net collection of these levies made by the State Government.

2.8.3 The expenditure on me EGS has varied over the last six years from about Rs.288 crores in 1987-88 to an anticipated expenditure of Rs.200 crores in 1991-92 and employment generation from 18.95 crore mandays to an anticipated level of 7.50 crore mandays. Wages paid under the scheme are not lower than the minimum wages for unskilled agricultural labour.

2.8.4 The scheme has resulted in a significant reduction in the incidence of unemployment in rural areas. Average daily unemployment rates in rural Maharashtra have declined from 7.20% in 1977-78 to 3.17% in 1987-88. It would also have contributed to some extent towards the decline in rural poverty from 60.4 per cent in 1977-78 to 36.7 per cent in 1987.88. The scheme has also helped in keeping an upward pressure on wages in rural areas. The EGS has benefitted a large number of women too, with nearly 60 per cent of the workers on EGS sites being women.

2.8.5 In view of the significant positive impact of this scheme on employment, earnings and levels of living of rural people in Maharashtra, the experiment could well be a model for similar schemes in other States.

Special Employment Programme of Gu-jarat

2.9.1 A special employment programme was introduced in Gujarat in 1991 under which two districts, Dang and Gandhinagar, were selected for achievement of zero unemployment and, in the remaining districts, additional employment opportunities will be created in the rural areas. A plan is being worked out with the objective of providing self-employment to those below poverty line, as well as opportunities for wage employment for those who seek it.

Drought Prone Area Programme

2.10.1 The DPAP was launched in 1973 in arid and semi-arid areas with poor natural resource endowments. The objective was to promote more productive dryland agriculture by better soil and moisture conservation, more scientific use of water resources, afforestation, and livestock development through development of fodder and pasture resource, and in the long run to restore the ecological balance. The DPAP covers 615 blocks of 91 districts in 13 states.

2.10.2 Given the objectives of the programmes, the sectoral earmarking of funds are as follows:

Sector % allocation
1. Land shaping and soil conservation 30
2. Afforestation and pasture development 25
3. Water resource development 20
4. Other activities 15
5. Project administration 10

2.10.3 Under DPAP, funds are allocated on the basis of the number of blocks covered under the programme in each district at the rate of Rs. 15 lakhs per block, having a geographical area upto 500 sq. kms., Rs. 16.5 lakhs per block with an area between 500-1000 sq. kms., and Rs.18.5 lakhs for blocks with an area exceeding 1000 sq. kms. The allocations are shared between the Centre and the States on a 50:50 basis. The financial and physical achievements under the programme are given below.

DPAP Achievements

Seventh Plan 1990-91
Allocation (Rs. lakhs) 46276.0 10223.0
Expenditure (Rs. lakhs) 46185.91 9389.1
Physical Achievements in  Key Sectors
(00 hectares)
. .
Land Development   4774.8 1430.3 
Water Resources 2095.8 215.2
Forestry 3741.66 800.0

2.10.4 The Programme Evaluation Organisation of the Planning Commission has been entrusted with the task of evaluating the DPAP. These programmes have been running for many years and there is no evidence that drought -proofing has been achieved in any of the DPAP blocks. Yet there are cases where voluntary effort has succeeded in achieving this objective at a micro-level. A more concerted and coordinated effort would be required with greater use of scientific data, detailed working of cost norms for different activities and efficient planning along micro watershed lines. Emphasis is laid on training of project staff at the district/watershed level for preparation of plans and creating awareness among the people of the project areas. Stress is also laid on the need for developing effective liaison between agricultural research agencies and implementing agencies for effective transfer of technology. To ensure participation of people in planning and implementation of the programme, various measures have been taken, such as preparation of watershed development plan with the help of the people in the watershed itself under the guidance of technical experts, and adequate local representation in the Watershed Development Committee set up for implementation of the project. In the Eighth Plan renewed thrust along these lines will be given to the DPAP.

Land Reforms

2.11.1 The land reforms policy has consisted of the following:

  1. Abolition of intermediaries;
  2. Tenancy reforms with security to actual cultivators;
  3. Redistribution of surplus ceiling land;
  4. Consolidation of holdings; and
  5. Updating of land records.

2.11.2 In the first stage of the programme there was, in the early fifties, the abolition of 'Zamindari', which covered 40% of the land area of the country benefitting 20 million cultivators. Fifteen lakh areas of wasteland were also vested in the State. In the process of implementing this measure, old Zamindars succeeded in retaining large tracts for self-cultivation.

2.11.3 There are tenancy laws in all the States except Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram. They provide for conferment of ownership on the tenant by the State, acquisition of ownership by tenants on payment of reasonable compensation, security of tenure and fixation of fair rent. Certain categories such as widows, members of armed forces, minors, etc. are treated specially under these laws. In certain other cases, provision is also made for limited right of resumption. However, the implementation of these laws in States has been quite varied. West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala have achieved more success than the other States. In West Bengal, 14 lakh share- croppers have been recorded under the 'Operation Barga'. Karnataka set up land tribunals to settle tenancy issues and these decided in favour of 3,00,000 tenants involving 11 lakh acres of land. In Kerala, through the tenants' association, applications of 24 lakh tenants for conferment of ownership were accepted. However, on the whole, tenancy reforms have not achieved the desired results as the incidence of informal oral or concealed tenancies is very high. In fact, it was envisaged in the Sixth Plan that legislative measures to confer ownership rights to tenants would be introduced in all States by 1981-82. This is still an issue that has to be tackled.

2.11.4 Ceilings legislation were enacted 1?v all the. States except Goa and the f^orth East region in accordance with the National guidelines of 1972. However, success has been limited due to poor enforcement. Of the 72.2 lakhs acres of land declared surplus, 46.5 lakh acres had been distributed by the end of the Seventh Plan and 25.7 lakh acres are still to be distributed.

2.11.5 Consolidation of holdings has made progress in some States while in others it is yet to make a beginning. Fifteen States have passed laws for consolidation of holdings. Those not having laws are Andhra Pradesh (in select areas ofAndhra Pradesh), Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pon-dichery and the North-Eastern States. Tenants, share croppers and small landowners, have a fear that consolidation favours the larger farmers. So far, about 1494 lakh acres have been covered.

2.11.6 The allotees of surplus ceiling land require assured access to inputs. This is being done under a scheme wherein Rs.2500/- per hectare are provided for land development, purchase of inputs and for meeting other needs. States have been asked to make 40% allotment of surplus land to women and the remaining in joint names of husbands and wives.

2.11.7 The Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the strengthening of revenue administration and updating of land records was introduced during the Seventh Plan. Under this scheme, by the end of the Seventh Plan Rs.25.57 crores have been allocated to 29 States and Union Territories for purchase of equipment and strengthening of training infrastructure.

2.11.8 Nineteen pilot projects for computerisation of land records have been taken up, one in each major State. These are fully financed by the Central government at the rate of Rs.25 lakhs each. The project envisages computerisation of the record of rights in the first stage, and both input and output will be in the local language. Computers are being installed at the Tehsil and district headquarters, with the objective of online updating and making available a copy of the record of rights to cultivators on demand. The project is nearing completion in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh and Dungerpur of Rajast-han. The progress in other States needs to be expedited.

Development Administration

2.11.9 During the Seventh Plan, the various rural development programmes were planned and implemented by a single agency at the district level called the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA). However, at the block level there was an attempt to return to the earlier community development pattern. But this was not easy, as the BDO had lost effective control over the Extension Officers who were functioning under their own departmental heirarchies. Also, there had been a tremendous increase in the volume of work and in the funds flowing at the block level. As against Rs. 17 lakh per year in the sixties, it became Rs. 1 crore per block per year. This put an enormous burden on the administrative system.

2.11.10 A Committee was set up to review the existing administrative arrangements for rural development, which submitted its report in 1985. It reemphasised the need for decentralised planning at the district level and below. It opined that where Zila Parishads were in existence rural development programmes should be transferred to them. This would ensure participation of local representatives in planning and they in turn would reflect the needs and aspirations of the local people. Of course, they would also be accoutable to the people they represent. In States where Zila Parishads are not in existence, the setting up of District Development Councils with Government officers as the Chief Executives was suggested. In either case, it was envisaged that planning and implementation of sectoral activities would be decentralised and integrated into a unified activity, with horizontal coordination at the district level. Similarly, at the block level too, an integrated area plan was imperative, based on availability of local skills and resources. However, no uniform pattern was adopted across States. In 1989-90, the introduction of the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, wherein it was stipulated that the funds would be placed at the disposal of the village panchay-ats, marked a shift towards democratic decentralisation, with certain funds and powers vested in the gram panchayats for development.

Panchayati Raj

2.12.1 Panchayati Raj Institutions are in existence in almost all the States and UTs but with considerable variations in their structure, mode of election, etc. In 14 States/UTs, the three-tier system exists, while four States have tw6;tier and nine states/UTs have one-tier system. In Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, a large part of Manipur and some other hilly areas of North-Eastern States, these institutions are established in accordance with the traditions and customs of the village. At the end of the Seventh Plan, there were 2,17,300 Gram Panchayats, 4525 block Panchayati Samities and 330 Zila Parishads in the country. The tenure of the elected bodies is between 3 and 5 years.

2.12.2 However, Panchayati Raj Institutions suffer from inadequate resources, both financial and technical. In most of the States, they are not entrusted with enough powers and financial responsibilities. With a view to strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions and making them a vibrant instrument of local self-Government, a process of grassroot level consultation was initiated towards the end of the Seventh Plan period. For the first time, Panchayati Raj Sammalens were held in the different regions during 1989 wherein delegates comprising Sarpanches, Ta-luka/Block Panchayati Samities President, Chairman of Zila Parishad and Chariman of Muncipal Committees/Town Area Committees and Notified Area Committees participated. The main objective is to make these institutions strong, reflecting the felt needs of the people.

2.12.3 To revitalise the Panchayats, a Constitution Amendment Bill (Constitution 72nd Amendment Bill, 1991) was introduced in Parliament in 1991. The Constitution Amendment Bill itself provides for, inter-alia, a 'Gram Sab-ha' in each village, constitution ofpanchayats at village and other level or levels, direct elections in all States to Panchayats at the village level and intermediate levels, reservation for scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes in proportion to their population and reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women, fixing tenure of five years for local authorities, and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of supersession of any such authority. The State legislatures are required to devolve powers and responsibilities on the panchayats for preparation of plans for economic development and social justice and for implementation of development schemes. Grants-in-aid to panchayats from consolidated fund of the State as also conferment of powers for levy of taxes, duties, tolls and fees are provided for. Further, it envisaged the setting up of a Finance Commission within one year of the Amendment Bill and, thereafter, every five years to review the financial position of local authorities. While the Bill has been introduced in Parliament, it is yet to be debated and passed. Once enacted, democratic decentralisation will be achieved through the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

Voluntary Action

2.13.1 Recognising the important role of voluntary agencies' in accelerating the process of social and economic development, the Seventh Plan placed a great deal of emphasis on people's participation and voluntary action in rural development. The role of voluntary agencies has been defined as providing a basis for innovation with new approaches towards integrated development, ensuring feed-back regarding impact of various programmes and securing the involvement of local communities, particularly, those below the poverty line. The need for a cadre of trained animators and social organisers was recognised and a massive programme for training the identified persons was prepared with the help of establishing Voluntatry Organisations.

2.13.2 Further, the scheme of organisation of beneficiaries of anti-poverty programmes which was undertaken on a pilot -basis for two years from 1986-87 was continued during the Seventh Plan period. This scheme was intended to increase the awareness and strengthen the bargaining position of the beneficiaries of anti-poverty programmes so as to help them get the maximum benefits from the programmes meant for their economic uplift. This was to be done through awareness generation camps, which were organised with the assistance of voluntary organisations.

2.13.3 At the Central level, the Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) is the agency for providing and assisting voluntary action in the area of rural development. Its funds comprises mainly grants from the Government of India. Programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development including, IRDP, JRY, DWCRA, TRYSEM, Organisation of beneficiaries, Accelerated rural water supply. Central rural sanitation programme etc. are implemented by. voluntary agencies through the assistance of CAPART. In addition, CAPART has takeifthe initiatives in promoting a variety of activities for transfer of technology, people's participation, development of markets for products of rural enterprises and promotion of other developmental activities and delivery systems in the nongovernment sector.

Eighth Plan Approach

Special Employment Programmes

2.14.1 Elimination of poverty continues to be a major concern of development planning. Expansion of employment opportunities, augmentation of productivity and income levels of both the underemployed and employed poor would be the main instrument for achieving this objective during the Eighth Plan. However, even an employment oriented growth strategy will achieve this goal only in the medium and long-term. In the meantime, short-term employment will have to be provided to the unemployed and underemployed, particularly among the poor and vulnerable sections, through the existing special employment programmes namely the IRDP and JRY. However, it must be recognised that while they meet the short-term objective of providing temporary work to the unemployed they must contribute to the creation of productive capacity of areas and/or individuals. This would be better achieved by a greater integration of the existing special employment programmes with other sectoral development programmes, which, in turn, would generate larger and more sustainable employment.

2.14.2 Given the enhanced outlay for \ rural development' in the Eighth Plan, it is necessary that resources are utilised for building up of rural infrastructure, which is an essential pre-requisite for a more sustained employment and development. All weather roads need to be given priority, particularly in tribal, hill and desert areas, where inaccessibility to markets and to information and input is a severe bottle-neck. Minor irrigation works and water harvesting structures are vital in order to conserve the scarce water and schemes for soil conservation and social forestry would go a long way in reducing soil erosion and top soil water cup - off as well as wherever required school buildings and primary health centres and sub-centres need to be constructed. The demand for these would vary between regions and even districts. Hence, a certain degree of flexibility would have to be built into the programme, leaving the choice to the people at the local level based on their needs and priorities.

2.14.3 In addition, the planning and implementation of the rural development programmes must enable greater self-help by the people and their participation in programmes through panchayati raj institutions, cooperatives and other self-managed institutions. This will mark a reduction in'the dependence on the present development administration for delivery. However, this should not be interpreted as a greater move towards 'privatisation' or leaving the rural poor to look after themselves. State intervention will have to continue, in fact, on an expanded scale so as to protect the poor and vulnerable sections from some of the burdens of structural adjustment. Viewed in this context, certain changes would be required in the broad strategy for rural development during the Eighth Plan. In addition, this may also necessitate the reworking of some of the earlier guidelines with respect to specific poverty alleviation programmes.

2.14.4 Experience indicates that while poverty alleviation programmes have been successful in providing a certain quantum of employment to people and have led to the creation of some durable assets in the village, there is a perception that the achievements have not been commensurate with the resources spent on them. Under the IRDP, the very fact that about half the number of beneficiaries have overdues raises doubts about their ability to come out of the debt syndrome. This, it is argued, is due to a low level of assistance which does not generate enough income to repay the loan and for subsistence. However, banks are reluctant to raise the credit limit because of scepticism regarding the repayment capacity of the target groups. It is estimated that about one-third of them do not even have the original asset that was given to them. The beneficiaries may be forced to sell the asset as they require the money. What is more, even those who have generated sufficient additional income to cross the poverty line may relapse into the category of poor, with additions to the family, loss of assets and non-viability of the activity chosen by him. ,2.14.5 Similarly, under the Jawahar Rozgajr Yojana, some employment is provided in the lean season and the supplementary incomes thus generated are critical for the survival of many poor families. But the wages earned under JRY are a very small proportion of the amount required to help him to cross the poverty line. Moreover, while some productive assets are created, which add to the infrastructural facilities available in a village their quality could be improved. Also, often they do not reflect the priorities of the local people but of the panchayat functionaries and their maintenance is lacking.

2.14.6 Under the JRY any additional allocation must be linked to certain backward districts/ blocks, with an element of guarantee of at least 90-100 days of employment per person as under the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Programme. Only then will it provide the s safety net' for the poor unemployed who may find it difficult to subsist in lean seasons. Providing employment of only 15-25 days per person is grossly inadequate. There is no doubt that a wage-employment programme like the JRY requires to be better targetted. A quick evaluation of the JRY conducted by the Programme Evaluation Organisation supports these observations. The survey shows that on an average, about 15 days of employment was generated per person in 1990-91. At an average wage-rate of Rs. 20.00 to Rs. 25.00, this would yield a supplementary income per person of about Rs. 300 -400 per anum: This is rather meagre in the context of the poverty line of Rs.6,400 during the Seventh Plan, which has been revised upwards for the Eighth Plan. Also, wage- material ratio of 60 : 40 was not sustainable, as the rising material costs meant more capital for creating durable assets. However, the beneficiaries were happy with the assets created, though their maintenance was somewhat lacking.

2.14.7 These findings, and discussions with implementing agencies and State Governments lead to the consensus that there is a need for integrating the various anti-poverty programmes with the sectoral programmes in a specified area so as to ensure a sustainable increase in employment and income of the rural poor and the infrastructural and environmental development of the area.

2.14.8 Also, certain relaxation and changes in the stipulation and guidelines incorporated both in the IRDP and JRY would be required to make them more effective. Under the JRY a certain degree of flexibility with regard to the earmarking of funds must be introduced. Clearly, priority should be given to soil and water conservation, waste-land development and social forestry followed by rural roads and rural housing. No doubt, inter-se importance will vary from place to place. The present system of earmarking a certain quantum for Million Wells Scheme and for housing under Indira Awaas Yojana would have to be relaxed, since several State Governments are not in a position to fulfil these stipulations. Furthermore, given the paucity of resources, one would perhaps have to concentrate the resources under the JRY to the more backward districts so as to reach the poorest. This would require an assessment of the extent and nature of unemployment and underemployment and the local level requirements at the village level. Even though a large proportion of the JRY funds flow directly to the village, activities undertaken should be such as to fulfill local needs within the overall framework of the village plan.

2.14.9 Under the IRDP, assistance is given to individual beneficiaries for acquisition of an asset. While one-third is in the form of subsidy, two-thirds are in the form of bank loans. Hence, the banks need to assess the economic viability of an asset before giving assistance. However, the entire focus on targetting makes such an exercise futile. Actually, the matter should be viewed not from the supply side but from the demand side i.e. identifying activities which are appropriate, given the skills of the beneficiaries, the infrastructure and the linkages available. Wherever necessary skills are not of the required standard, this upgradation should be facilitated under TRYSEM. In other words, IRDP needs to be viewed as a credit based self-employment programme with an element of subsidy rather than as a programme based on subsidy supplemented by bank credit.

2.14.10 Under DWCRA, the results have not been quite satisfactory. While the idea of organising women into groups to take up activities which yield supplementary income is a sound one it has suffered on account of lack of adequate investment and selection of unviable activities. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to encourage* formation of thrift and credit societies which will be entitled to receive matching contributions from the Government. This is already being attempted in some States. There is also an urgent need for conscientisation of rural women through activists, social workers and voluntary agencies. Women need to be encouraged to form cooperatives or institutions of self-employed women in order to become viable groups. In addition, child care, reduction in drudgery and organisation of women beneficiaries need to be pursued more vigorously. Marketing of products made by women's groups is an important aspect and State Governments must make provisions for purchase of their products by various Government departments, emporia, and through melas and fairs.

2.14.11 Upgradation of skills and technology need to be given a special thrust with the aim of generating employment in new areas where demand is expanding. The target for TRYSEM trainees has been doubled from about 20 to 40 lakhs per annum. However, in order that those trained could find employment it is necessary that (a) training needs are assessed in terms of activities which can be either started under ERDP or in such fields where there is likely to be an increase of wage employment opportunities, (b) the quality of training should be such as to bring about improvement in the skill endowment of the trainees, (c) groups of persons can be organised in a particular trade or productive venture and these can be brought together for training.

Integration of Poverty Alleviation Programmes for Rural Development

2.15.1 The programmes themselves need not be changed but the manner of implementing them would need some modification. A high degree of convergence can be attempted in a few districts on a pilot basis by an integration of the poverty alleviation programmes, the area development programmes and sectoral schemes. Taking a district as a unit of planning, a district plan would need to be prepared, taking into account the physical and human endowments of that area, the felt needs of the people and the funds available . Projects and schemes would be selected for implementation based on these. Using scientific methods now available, the geographical area of the district would have to be mapped from photogrammetry and satellite data. The maps would then be subjected to analysis for identification of water harvesting structures such as aalabands, gulley plugs, infiltration galleries and terraces. Such a strategy would ensure that soil erosion would be minimised and surface run off is virtually eliminated, with conservation of every drop of rainfall. This district map would then have to be disaggregated at the village level. Viable activities particularly in agriculture and allied sectors including animal husbandry, pisciculture, horticulture forestry and agro-processing would have to be selected. Village and small industries with potential can also be identified for priority. In addition, development of infrastructural support and forward and backward linkages will have to be ensured which are essential prerequisites for the viability of the selected activities. Emphasis on human resource development would have to be placed, as productivity depends both on natural resources and on the level of human resource development. Therefore, it will be necessary to integrate the social aspects of development including education, health and access to safe drinking water with the plan for economic development. Briefly, therefore, the strategy would consist of creating the right environment for success of family plans rather than the present practice of farming them out and assuming that the infrastructure would look after itself.

2.15.2 For planning and implementation of the district plan, the responsibility would vest in the Zilla Parisahds where they exist and/or in the DRDAs. However, this should not preclude the involvement of people's representatives both elected and non-elected and voluntary organisations from taking on the planning and implementation of various schemes and programmes. In fact, it would be ideal to form committees involving representatives from both the Government and non-Governmental organisations. While surveys have been conducted in every village to identify those living below the poverty line, it is also important to have a registration of the unemployed and underemployed who are willing and able to work. This is essential in order to have an idea of the number of people to be covered under the various anti-poverty programmes.

2.15.3 The above are the broad parameters of4 the Integrated Rural Development approach the details of which would vary from place to place. It-is proposed in the Eighth Plan that one district per State is selected for the implementation of this programme in the manner described earlier.tions he set up at the central level to provide a forum for them.

2.16.6 In the Eighth Plan, a greater emphasis will be put on th role of voluntary organisations in rural development. A nation-wide network of NGOs will be created. In order to faciltate the working of this network, three schemes relating to She creation/replication/ multiplication and consultancy development have been worked out by the Planning Commission.Efforts will be made to evolve a system for providing one window service to NGOs wrking in the area of integrated development.

Land Reforms

2.16.7 Land is still the single most important asset in rural India and given the present state of agricultural technology even a small farm can be viable, both in terms of employment and income of a family. The need for land reforms was recognised at the time of independence and has been reiterated in the successive Five Year Plans. The Seventh Plan enunciated land reforms to be an intrinsic part of the anti-poverty strategy.

2.16.8 The importance of land reforms continues to be significant. Its main tenets are abolition of intermediaries, security of tenure for tenant -cultivators, redistribution of land by imposition of a ceiling on agricultural holdings, consolidation ofholdingc and updating of land records.

2.16.9 The Eighth Plan would therefore address itself to the factors that have come in the way of realising the goals of land reforms policy. First, it would aim at ensuring that an atmosphere is created whereby the actual cultivators are made aware of their rights and enabled to claim their benefits. Secondly, it would encourage steps to be taken for early detection of surplus lands. Thirdly, it would be necessary to ensure that the newly acquired lands are brought under profitable agronomic practices, thus meeting the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and output growth. The management of land records and the skills and capabilities of the lower level official machinery would need to be given the necessary support of resources and modernisation so that they help, rather than hinder, the evolution of an equitable agrarian order.

2.16.10 The objectives of land reforms can briefly be stated as follows:

  1. Restructuring of agrarian relations to achieve egalitarian social structure;
  2. Elimination of exploitation in land relations;
  3. Actualisation of the goal of "land t,o the tiller";
  4. Improvement of socio-economic conditions of the rural poor by widening their land base;
  5. Increasing agricutural productivity and production;
  6. Facilitating land-based development of rural poor; and
  7. Infusion of a greater measures of equality in local institutions.

2.16.11 On the question of tenancy, there are three aspects which need to be examined in some detail. First, the need to inculcate among tenants a degree of solidarity so that they can, at a time, counter the dominance of the landed classes as well as make the revenue administration accountable to themselves. Secondly, the mechanisms for transfer of title to the actual cultivator will require to be professional and sensitive. The third, and perhaps the most important aspect, is to make the gains real by getting from the land the quickest returns via access to a package of modem input. Measures would be taken to make real the gains of tenancy laws by restricting the right to resumption; tackle absentee landlordism by defining personal cultivation more precisely and reviewing the provisions for regulating voluntary surrender. The National Commission on Revitalisation of Revenue Administration will take up all issues relating to land record management in the States. Organisations of tenants and sharecroppers will engine detection of informal and concealed tenancies, bring on record the tenants and share croppers.

2.16.12 On the question of land ceilings, the two aspects needing urgent attention ay; a) detection of surplus lands, hitherto unavailable because of recourse to evasive methods like benami transfers, partitions, fraud, collusion with official machinery etc., and b) ensuring that the allottees retain possession and there is severe penalty for dispossession. The lacunae in the laws will have to be removed so as to help resolve both these issues. Suitable creative options need to be built into the law so that once the land is declared surplus, unless mala fide is established against the official machinery concerned, the land would vest in the Government, and it would be open to the Courts to award only compensation to the landlord. Another option is to set up Land Tribunals under Article 323-B to deal with litigation and elimiate court jurisdiction. Some of the policy interventions will be to reduce the exemptions and review the provisions for major sons to have independent shares. The existing limits will be reviewed.

2.16.13 In respect of consolidation of holdings, two aspects that need attention are; a) The smaller farmers harbour strong apprehensions about getting a raw deal in the process of exchanging parcels of land towards the consolida-•tion of holdings and b) The process of breaking up of holdings is a continuous one and a one-time settlement does not really solve the problem. The solution, will therefore lie in making the farmer recognise that it is advantageous to share income from land rather than the land itself. The modality of bringing these aims into the land-related customs and practices will be more effective than the passing of laws.

2.16.14 The common property resources have traditionally been a source of economic sustenance for the weaker sections of society. Measures will be taken to survey their extent so that the encroachments by more influential sections can be removed. This is an area where voluntary organisations and local democratic institutions will be associated with the administrative machinery to restore to the panchayat/commu-nity the ownership of common property resources so that further encroachments do not take place. Efforts will be made to develop these resources so that the option is once again open for the poorer sections to exploit for supplementing their income.

2.16.15 In order to create a reward system for the better performing States in these matters, it is proposed to set up an index of performance with regard to land reforms. Based on this indicator it will be possible to provide a portion of the general pool of Central Assistance to the states.

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