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Rural Development: Indian Context
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Q. 1. Describe main socio-economic features of Indian Rural Society.

Ans. Rural life is the principal pivot around which whole Indian social life revolves. India is a land of agriculture.
Its history, customs and traditions, complex social organization and unity in diversity etc can be understood by the
study of rural life.
Rural sociology is the scientific study of rural society. It involves a systematic study of rural society, its institutions,
activities, interactions and social change. It not only deals with the social relationships of man in a rural environment
but also takes urban surroundings into consideration for a comparative study
The village is the unit of the rural society. Its people carry on the business of living together within a distinctive
framework of caste and social custom. Caste is a dominant social institution permeating social and economic relations.
Traditional caste occupation mostly prevails. Cooperative labour of different castes is required not only for agroeconomic activities but also for socio-religious life. The large villages have within its population all the occupational
castes, have a comparatively more integrated and self-sufficient economic as well as socio-religious life than smaller
villages. The village as a social and cultural unit possesses a basically uniform organization and structure of values
all over India. Many problems are common to the entire Indian country side. The ethnic, linguistic, religious and
caste composition of a village largely determine its character and structure. Some villages of hamlets are inhabited
almost exclusively by certain castes as in the case of Agraharams for Brahmins. Even in a village with mixed
population the different castes usually live in different sections of the same village. Inter caste rivalries are present.
Women do not have full equality with men in several aspects of life. Indian rural society is predominantly based on
agriculture. Possession of land carries with it social and prestige value, besides being considered as an economic
asset. In many villages, the land is mostly distributed between two or more castes, or among a few families, or
between one big land owner and the rest of the community. Landless labourers and tenants constitute a considerable
part of the population depending on agricultural society, society in which there is a low ratio of inhabitants to open
land and in which the most important economic activities are the production of foodstuffs, fibres, and raw materials.
Such areas are difficult to define with greater precision, for, although in non-industrialized nations the transition
from city to countryside is usually abrupt, it is gradual in industrialized societies, making it difficult to pinpoint the
boundaries of rural places. A second, related problem is that governments do not use the same statistical criteria for
rural and urban populations; in Japan, for instance, any cluster of fewer than 30,000 people is considered rural,
whereas in Albania a group of more than 400 inhabitants is regarded as an urban population.



In the past, rural societies were typified by their adherence to farming as a way of life. Such cultures were not
goal- or achievement-oriented; their members sought subsistence, not surplus. Marked by a high regard for intimacy
and traditional values, farming communities were often regulated by kinship customs and ritual, and, in particular,
the ownership and care of productive land was strictly guarded by tradition. Collectively, these characteristics are
often designated by the term gemeinschaft, an expression introduced by the German sociologist Ferdinand Tnnies.
Tnnies described the contrasting nature of urban life with the term gesellschaft, a state characterized by impersonal
bureaucracy, rationalized specialization, and mechanization. Gesellschaft is typically associated with modern industry,
where people are employees who perform specific, goal-oriented functions in a rational and efficient, as opposed to
a traditional and organic, manner. The two terms are sometimes translated as community and society. Rural
inhabitants work with people they know well and are accustomed to relationships of great intimacy and small scale,
whereas urban dwellers know each other in narrow, segmented ways that have little to do with family or friendship.
Historically, farming societies have had higher birthrates than urban societies; their populations have also tended
to be younger, to live in larger families, and to include slightly greater percentages of males. These phenomena were
related: it was to a farmer's advantage to have many offspring, especially males, who could work in the fields as
children and then would support their parents as they grew older. Generally, however, as the children became older,
there was not enough productive land for all of them to support their own families, and some would migrate to the
Q. 2. What do you mean by land reforms? Describe important features of Land Reforms programme in

Ans. Land reform usually refers to redistribution of land from the rich to the poor. More broadly, it includes
regulation of ownership, operation, leasing, sales, and inheritance of land (indeed, the redistribution of land itself
requires legal changes). In an agrarian economy like India with great scarcity, and an unequal distribution, of land,
coupled with a large mass of the rural population below the poverty line, there are compelling economic and political
arguments for land reform. Not surprisingly, it received top priority on the policy agenda at the time of Independence.
In the decades following independence India passed a significant body of land reform legislation. The 1949 Constitution
left the adoption and implementation of land and tenancy reforms to state governments. This led to a lot of variation
in the implementation of these reforms across states and over time, a fact that has been utilized in empirical studies
trying to understand the causes and effects of land reform.
Many land reforms were initiated after independence in India. The political leaders especially Nehru always
dreamt for a socialist pattern of society. Ending the feudal forces is one of the major challenges before the newly
formed Indian Government in the Post-Independent era. Before independence, India was under the despotic rule of
the British who encouraged the intermediaries to collect more revenues. However, this was not the beginning as
India was under the feudal clutches since ages. The Emperors who ruled India divided the lands into Jagirs and
handed over them to Jagirdhars. These jagirdhars further created intermediaries called Zamindars to look after their
jagirs and collect revenues from the peasants who cultivate in those lands. After British established their paramountcy
continued the intermediaries under Permanent Settlement Act and assigned the lands to Zamindars permanently to
collect the revenues. The Zamindars, who were the intermediaries, acquired the ownership rights over huge land
holdings. After independence institutional reforms were needed to change the pattern of feudal society to socialist.
A committee for the first time was appointed in 1949 to initiate the land reforms. The committee was named as
Congress Agrarian Reforms Committee also known as Kumarappan Committee headed by Kumarappan. It was the
beginning of land reforms in India. The committee recommended radical institutional reforms; it recommended the
abolition of Zamindari System.
Land reform legislation in India consisted of four main categories: abolition of intermediaries who were rent
collectors under the pre-Independence land revenue system; tenancy regulation that attempts to improve the contractual
terms faced by tenants, including crop shares and security of tenure; a ceiling on landholdings with a view to
redistributing surplus land to the landless; and finally, attempts to consolidate disparate landholdings. Abolition of



intermediaries is generally agreed to be one component of land reforms that has been relatively successful. The
record in terms of the other components is mixed and varies across states and over time. Landowners naturally
resisted the implementation of these reforms by directly using their political clout and also by using various methods
of evasion and coercion, which included registering their own land under names of different relatives to bypass the
ceiling, and shuffling tenants around different plots of land, so that they would not acquire incumbency rights as
stipulated in the tenancy law.
Q. 3. Explain important features of the programme aimed at Development of Women and Children in
Rural Areas (DWCRA).
Ans. The special scheme for Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) aims at strengthening
the gender component of IRDP.

It was started in the year 1982-83, on a pilot basis, in 50 districts and has now been extended to all the
districts of the country.

DWCRA is directed at improving the living conditions of women and, thereby, of children through the
provision of opportunities for self-employment and access to basic social services.

The following are the objectives of the scheme at micro level:

To improve the quality of life of women and children.

To involve rural women and children to understand their wants like hygienic environment, clean drinking
water, nutritious food, schooling facilities etc.

To provide an opportunity for income generating activities for individual through a group of women by
building the existing skills and occupations, utilization of locally available resources and providing suitable
marketing facilities, and

Self-subsistence even after help is withdrawn.

A distinguishing feature of DWCRA is that it is a group strategy as against family as a unit of assistance under
IRDP. The women members of DWCRA from groups of 10-15 each for taking up economic activities suited to their
skill, aptitude and local conditions. The group strategy is adopted to motivate the rural women to come together and
break social bonds which have denied them income-generating and self-fulfilling opportunities. The group approach
has been extended to all districts with an intention to have greater coverage of women. One woman from amongst
the members functions as a group organizer and helps in the choice of activity, procurement of raw materials,
marketing of products etc. The selection of activity is generally done by the group only to avoid the impression that
the activity has been imposed on them by the authorities concerned against their wishes. However, selected activity
should be one for which suitable skill and training is possessed by the members of the group and raw materials and
marketing facilities are available locally. The activity selected should be such that in involves all the members and
encourages group cohesiveness and sense of belonging. Some of these include: tailoring, weaving, fiber making,
food processing, bakery, poultry, match box making, leather work etc.
In addiction to the benefits of loan subsidy of IRDP to individual member each group of women under DWCRA
is given a lump sum grant of Rs. 15,000 as revolving fund which is meant for following purposes (i) Purchase of
raw materials and marketing of final products; (ii) Honorarium to group organizer Rs. 50 per month for a period of
1 year, (iii) Infrastructure support for income generating and other group activities; (iv) One time expenditure on
child care activities; and (v) One time expenditure not exceeding Rs. 500 to meet travel allowance of group members
for paying visits to banks. In addition the group organizer is entitle to Rs. 200 towards travelling allowance for a
period of one year. This allowance amount is shared equally by the Government of India and the State Government.
A group which is recognized under the Societies Registration Act or State Cooperative Societies Act can approach
any bank for getting a loan in the name of group for production purpose. As most of the groups assisted under
DWCRA are unregistered, the Government came up with a pilot project in May, 1990 with a coverage of 16 selected



districts to help such units in securing assistance. The salient feature of this scheme are: (i) The minimum number of
women members of the informal group for which the scheme is applicable is 5; (ii) Each group is entitle to a
revolving fund amount on prorate basis at Rs. 1000 per member, subject to a maximum of Rs. 15,000 per group; and
(iii) The group is also entitled to a subsidy of 50% under IRDP, subject to a monetary ceiling prescribed from time to
Q. 5. What are important recommendations of Balwantrai Mehta Committee and Ashok Mehta Committee
for Panchayati Raj? Explain in brief the goals and performance of Panchayati Raj.
Ans. The panchayati raj is a South Asian political system mainly in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. It is
the oldest system of local government in the Indian subcontinent. The word panchayat literally means assembly
(ayat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by the local community. However, there are
different forms of assemblies. Traditionally, these assemblies settled disputes between individuals and villages.
Modern Indian government has decentralized several administrative functions to the local level, empowering elected
gram panchayats. Gram panchayats are not to be confused with the unelected khap panchayats (or caste panchayats)
found in some parts of Northern India.
In 1957, Balwantrai Committee report recommended Public participation in community works should be
organized through statutory representative bodies. It was foreseen that without an agency at the village level that
could represent the entire community and take responsibility with firm leadership, actual progress in rural development
could not be visible. Consequently, the National Development Council also certified the basic principle of democratic
decentralization enunciated in the Balwantrai Mehta Committee report. During this phase, Panchayati Raj gained
prevalence as a process of governance linking will of the people from the Gram Sabha to the Lok Sabha. The first
three tier system was inaugurated in Naguar, Rajasthan in 1959.

By the early seventies, panchayats had gone from a phase of early dominance to one of decline and stagnation.
The Ashok Mehta Committee made far reaching recommendations to amend the situation and recommended that
Panchayati Raj be included in the constitution. Focusing on the recommendations of the Ashok Mehta committee,
some states revisited their panchayat acts and also took new initiatives.
The Congress Government under the Prime Minister P.V. Narsimha Rao introduced the 72nd (Panchayat) and 73rd
(Municipalities) constitution amendment bill based substantially on the bill which was proposed during the regime of
Rajiv Gandhi but also incorporated recommendations of National Front Government. The bill was passed by both the
houses and the Acts came into force as the Constitution (73rd amendment) act 1992 and (74th Amendment) act 1993.
This added two new parts to the Constitution, namely Part IX tiled The Panchayats and part IXA titled The
Panchayati Raj Institutions, the grass root units of local self government have been considered as instruments of
socio economic transformation in rural India. Involvement of people at the grass root level is the most important
means of bringing about socio-economic development. Panchayati Raj is identified as institutional expression of
democratic decentralization in India. Decentralization of power to the panchayats is seen as a means of empowering
people and involving them in decision making process. Local governments being closer to the people can be more
responsive to local needs and can make better use of resources. The democratic system in a country can be ensured
only if there is mass participation in the governance. Therefore, the system of democratic decentralization popularly
known as Panchayati Raj is considered as an instrument to ensure democracy and socio-economic
transformation.Gandhi advocated that India lives in her villages. Indian independence must begin at the bottom, thus
making every village a republic or panchayat, enjoying full powers. He remarked that true democracy cannot be
worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village. These
dreams lead to the inclusion of Article 40 in the Directive Principles of the State Policy of Constitution of India.
Almost after five decades of independence, in the year 1993, the Government of India took a revolutionary step by
making Panchayati Raj Institutions a part of the Constitution. India has a long tradition of local governments, going



back to more than 4000 years. This institution has survived numerous political changes and upheavals in the ancient
and medieval periods till the advent of the British Raj. With the coming of the colonial administration, the patterns
of the working of the local bodies underwent marked changes.
Panchayats have been the backbone of the Indian villages since the beginning of the recorded history in one
form or other.
Q. 7. Discuss important features of Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP).
Ans. The Drought-Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) was first launched by GOI during 1973-74, to address
special problems of drought prone areas. Based on the recommendations of Hanumantha Rao committee (1994) the
programme has been under implementation on watershed basis since 1995. The allocation for the programme is
shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the centre and state.
During 2005-06 it was planned to develop an area of 68446 hectares with an outlay of Rupees 4321.86 lakhs,
against which an area of 34396 hectares was developed by incurring Rupees 1881.50 lakhs.
The programme is now under implementation in 947 blocks of 155 districts in 13 states. The total area covered
under the programme is about 746 lakh sq. km. The funds for the programme are shared by the Centre and the
concerned state on 50:50 bases. Total outlay for the programme during Eighth Five Year Plan was Rs. 1,000 crore,
out of which Rs. 500 crore was the Central share. Total expenditure since inception in 1973-74 till March 1995 was
Rs. 1,742 crore. The programme is being implemented on watershed project basis since 1995-96 as per new guidelines
for Watershed Development. The local people are being involved in the planning and development of watershed
project. Funds equal to 75 per cent of the sanctioned cost of the watershed is released to the Watershed Committee
and utilized by it.

The number of watershed projects targeted for development during the period of four years (from 1995-96 to
1998-99) was 4,995. The Central share of allocation for DPAP during 1996-97 and 1997-98 are Rs. 125 and Rs. 115
crore respectively. The Drought-Prone Areas Programme has the major objective to minimize the effects of drought
through an integrated development of the area by the adoption of appropriate technologies. Its main em-phasis is on
irrigation projects, land development programmes, afforestation, grass-land development, rural electrification and
other programmes for infrastructural development relating to roads, markets, credit, servicing and processing etc.
Each state has evolved its own organizational set-up for the drought-prone area programme. Maharashtra is
implementing the programme through the District Planning Board. The Karnataka Government has established an
authority for the districts by a resolution of the State Government with Divisional Commissioner as the Chairman.
Tamil Nadu has set up a District Development Corporation for one of the two districts under this programme.