The Bold Voice of J&K

Participatory approach for rural development

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Dr. Banarsi Lal

The Indian economy in the past, presently and in future will remain predominantly depend on rural development because very high proportion of the Indian population live in rural areas. In 1901, 89 per cent of its total population was living in the villages while around 70 per cent is still living in the rural areas. It is expected that by the turn of 21st century at least 50 per cent of population would be living in the rural areas. About two-third of its workforce is engaged in agriculture in rural areas. Over the years it has been observed that poverty ratio has declined. However due to increase in population the number of poor people in the country remain more or less the same. The poverty eradication which is the main thrust of the government cannot be achieved all in a sudden but it needs sustained efforts through various programmes framed according to the need of the hour with the concurrent role to be played by the government and the rural society through active people participation in these programmes. The concept of people’s participation is an integral part of the Democratic Welfare State contained in the Indian Constitution. The community development programmes laid emphasis on people’s participation right from very beginning. In order to start any programme people participation in actual practice is more important than getting contribution from them in labour, cash, land and other materials for the programmes activities such as irrigation, roads, wells, schools etc. The people should be involved in planning the programmes and their opinion should also be considered in formulating their needs.
It is said that after IndependenceIndia has become an industrial power with space and nuclear capabilities. Self-sufficiency in food grains production with better infrastructural facilities, India is now set on a higher trajectory of economic growth. We are having surplus food wasted in Punjab and Haryana and starvation deaths in the tracts of Odisha, floods in Assam and Bihar and scorching drought in Rajasthan and some other states all the same time. This proves the theory of Noble laureate Amartya Sen, which indicates that poverty is not due to natural effects but due to the inability of mankind and also government machinery to maintain equitable distribution. Hence, achievements of planning should be guided not only by the overall growth rate but also by the pattern of distribution of the benefits to all the sections of society. It is essential that a rural development programme should not only get the sanction but also should be supported by the participation of millions of people in the country. It is the people of the country who have to accept and execute the programmes for their own improvement. It is important that the people should regard all aspects of community development as their concern and develop their capacity and faith in themselves and in the efficacy of their own co-operative action to solve their problems. Through such programmes the local communities can make far greater contribution than action by any other organised level of society to raise the level of living of all the people in terms of their basic needs and desires, i.e. needs and desires for food, clothing, shelter, education, health, recreation and community life. It is not necessary that participatory approach can solve all the problems faced by the people. It is only a method by which government’s assistance can be easily and more effectively channelled to the rural people by involving them in different programmes for their improvement. At present both the Central and State Governments are giving great importance to participatory approach in implementing rural development programmes. The concept of community participation dates back to 1950 but it has not been properly followed. Although at present much importance is given to the participatory approach, there is need for peopleparticipation in implementation of developmental programmes.
Success of any programme depends upon the peopleparticipation. It has been observed that many development programmes are started by government and non-government organisations with great interest but they are not sustainable. The sustainability of a poverty allevation programme largely depends upon the effective linkage between government, non-government organisation and people. It is irony that though much thrust is given to participatory approach in rural development, the schemes/programmes actually do not provide much scope for such participation. For the last 50 years almost all the programmes implemented by the government have failed miserably or did not work properly due to lack of proper people co-ordination. Except watershed management schemes and some other programmes many schemes/ programmes have no provision in their guideline for the participatory role of the concerned rural people. This situation needs to be rectified. Participation can be considered as the mass movement incorporating the active, voluntary participation of our rural people. All the Central and State Government Schemes having the objective of rural, urban poverty allevation, aiming at employment generation, proving subsidised commodity, service, should have mandatory component for participatory approach. Suitable amendments need to be incorporated in Central and State Government Acts, Rules, manuals and schemes/programmes guidelines to make local bodies self-governing. Participatory approach can be made through Government orders in all spheres of district and local administration. Overdependence of government machinery upon departmental infrastructure in the area of planning and estimating of tax revenues and collecting them can be reduced by using the local body institutions. Many programmes/schemes implemented by the various departments without any social audit mechanism can be co-ordinated into few schemes and redesigned, so that that they can be routed through Panchayat Raj Institutions for implementation in a transparent manner and also to ensure quality work. In order to achieve the transparency in various schemes/programmes people participation must be ensured.
(The writer is: Dr. Banarsi Lal, Scientist and Head, KVK, Reasi(Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu) (SKUAST-J.)

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