Community Development in India: An Overview. Presented at the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, Japan seminar on Comparative Study on Planning Process of Community Development: Component of People’s Participation. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. August 21-26, 2000.
As India has the largest population of poor people, community development has assumed high priority. The initial programme aimed at upliftment of the rural poor, covered agriculture, animal husbandry, roads, health, education, housing, employment, social and cultural activities. However, food security being the main cause of concern, agriculture received significant attention.
In 1957, a three-tier-system of rural local Government, called ‘Panchayati Raj’ (Rule by Local Councils) was established. These were Gram Panchayat (Village level), Panchayat Samiti (Block level) and Zilla Parishad (District level). The aim was to decentralise the process of decision making and encourage people’s participation. As the programme could not fulfill the expectations of the rural poor, the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was introduced in 1979, with specific focus on the weaker sections of the society. By mid eighties, the Government was able to meet the minimum needs of the poor, which included elementary education, health, water supply, roads, electrification, housing and nutrition.
In 1987, the Planning Commission decided to consider block as the basic unit for development planning. The task of planning at the district level was entrusted to the District Planning and Development Council which had wider representation of the society. Panchayati Raj reforms were introduced through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to facilitate planning at the micro-level and to strengthen the Gram Sabha (village assembly). The Government of India has also been encouraging voluntary action to mobilise the rural people. Several initiatives of the non-government organisations in the last two decades have had significant impact on the development. NGOs such as BAIF Development Research Foundation are promoting sustainable livelihood through dairy husbandry, water resource management, wastelands development and various income generation activities in several states.
Farmers in several states have established cooperatives for processing sugarcane, oil-seeds, milk, fruits and vegetables. With professional management and application of modern technologies, these organisations have brought economic stability and eliminated exploitation by intermediary traders. To strengthen people’s organisations, Self Help Groups (SHGs), comprising of poor families have been promoted under the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002). It is only the people’s initiatives and involvement which can sustain the development. The government and political power have the will to support people’s movement and this should promote sustainable rural development in India.
After 53 years of independence and a population of one billion, India is the largest democracy in the world. To sustain this democracy and freedom, it is necessary to ensure economic empowerment and better quality of life for all the citizens. Unfortunately, the annual per capita Gross National Product of USD 370 in India is one of the lowest as compared to USD 860 in China, USD 2450 in Asia, USD 5170 in the world and over USD 20,000 in the developed countries. Despite significant advancement in industrial development, Indian economy is dependent on agrobased activities. Over 65% of the population living in rural areas are primarily dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. A majority of these families spend over 90% of their earnings on basic needs such as food, fuel and health care. Over 35% of the rural families being poor, tackling their problems is the national priority to ensure social justice and better quality of life.
Problems of the Poor
Poverty in India is judged by the income generated by the family. A family of 4-5 members need at least Rs. 11,000 (USD 275) per annum, to meet their minimum basic needs. Those who cannot earn this income are classified as poor. Unemployment and underemployment are the major causes of rural poverty. The other factors are small land holdings, harsh agro-climatic conditions, poor infrastructure and limited opportunities for rural industrial development, poor health care, illiteracy, social suppression, addiction to alcohol and exploitation by vested interests.
Land is the major resource in India, which provides livelihood to the rural population. According to a survey conducted in 1991-92, about 11.25% of the rural families are landless and among the land holders, over 69.35% own less than 1 ha (marginal farmers) and 21.25% own between 1 and 2 ha (small farmers). Water is another critical resource required to enhance the agricultural production. Out of the total arable area of 169 million ha, only 28% area is under irrigation and the rest is dependent on rains, where hardly one crop can be grown in a year. About 40% of the cropping area is located in low rainfall regions where the employment opportunity is hardly for 40 to 50 days in a year and crops generally fail twice in five years. Decline in many traditional occupations and poor institutional infrastructures have further reduced job opportunities. Thus about 90% of the rural population, who are deprived of adequate land holding have to look for other means of livelihood for their survival. Livestock is another important natural resource owned by the poor. Generally the rural families keep 1-2 cows or buffaloes for milk, a pair of bullocks for farming and a few sheep, goats and poultry for supplementary income. Although fodder is in scarcity, most of the poor families maintain large herds and let them graze on common lands. Dairy husbandry has good scope, as there is good demand for milk. However, most of the important breeds of cattle and buffaloes are genetically eroded and about 80-85% of the livestock are unproductive and cause undue pressure on forest resources while the rural poor are unable to take advantage of these animals. It is feasible to make sustainable use of these natural resources through application of appropriate technologies and use of idle labour.
Apart from inadequate earning for livelihood, the rural people also suffer from poor health arising from starvation, lack of immunisation, hygiene and sanitation. Over 25% villages do not have year-round supply of drinking water and about 75% of the potable water sources are polluted. Consumption of polluted water is the main source of illness particularly during the rainy season. Most of the villages have no drainage and sanitation and less than 10% of the rural people use latrines. Medical and immunisation services do not reach remote villages. Illiteracy in rural areas is high particularly among women, varying from 55% to 75%. This has a direct bearing on the population growth, child health and education. With the annual birth rate of 28 per 1000, as compared to 23 in Asia, the family size has been growing without any addition to the income. Unable to meet the growing needs, the rural poor have to depend on money lenders, to meet their emergencies and fall into the debt trap. They often try to forget their problems by consuming alcohol. While some migrate to cities, others live in chronic poverty. They lose confidence in others as well in their ability to live a decent life. This is a vicious cycle.
A typical Indian rural profile is presented in Annexure I.
Community Development Programme
The concept of community development in India was initiated well before independence. Even during the struggle for independence, under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi - the Father of the Nation, considerable attention was given to rural upliftment and reconstruction. He emphasized on a nineteen point constructive programme for complete independence by truthful and non-violent means. He often warned the leaders that true independence could be enjoyed only when the rural economy was strengthened and poverty eradicated. He advocated communal harmony, economic equity, social equality, deaddiction from alcohol and narcotics, promotion of ‘khadi’ (hand spun and hand woven cloth) and village industries, sanitation, health care, education and empowerment of women. The aim was to generate gainful employment in rural areas and to improve the quality of life (Gandhi, 1941).
The Government of India Act, 1935 under the British Rule, while confirming autonomy on the provinces, included rural development as an important programme to be initiated for the welfare of the people. With the outbreak of World War II and Bengal Famine of 1943, food supply was a critical problem in most parts of the country. Emphasis on food production was provided through ‘Grow More Food Campaign’ which included the supply of free seeds, subsidies for construction of wells and embankments, supply of manure, fixing a minimum price for grain, etc. However, there was limited scope under the ‘Zamindari’ system where a small number of rich farmers owned the agriculture lands and the rest of the villagers worked as labourers.
After the independence of India in 1947, community development assumed high priority. In 1948, a pilot community development project was launched through the Etawah Project. Later in 1952, the Government of India launched 55 Community Development Projects, each covering about 300 villages or a population of 30,000. This programme was multi-dimensional but the major emphasis was placed on agricultural production, as the areas selected for launching the project were located in irrigated areas or where the rainfall was assured. In 1953, the National Extension Service Project was launched with similar objectives to cover larger areas, including the dry regions. This project of three-year duration, demarcated the blocks of 150-300 villages as manageable units for initiating community development programmes. The objectives and activities of the Project were modified from time to time and continued as a permanent multi-function extension agency in each block. These community development blocks were treated as normal administrative units for planning and development with regular budgetary allocations.
By the end of the First Five Year Plan (1952-57), 1114 blocks covering 163,000 villages were in operation and by sixties, the community development programme covered the entire country. The programme was characterised by the following features: comprehensive in content; economic progress as the core objective; flexible programmes and posting of a multipurpose worker at the village level. The plan defined the central objective of planning as creation of conditions in which living standards are reasonably high and the citizens have full and equal opportunity for growth and justice (Sachidananda, 1988). The programme aimed at upliftment of the rural poor, covered agriculture, animal husbandry, roads, health, education, housing, employment, social and cultural activities. While aiming at economic development through agriculture and cottage industries, efforts were made to improve literacy, health, sanitation, housing, transport and communication. To implement the multi-facet programme, an extension organisation, headed by a Block Development Officer (BDO) was established at each block or the revenue tehsil, with a team of subject specialists and village level workers (VLW). Each VLW covered a population of 5000-6000, spread over 5-10 villages to implement various development programmes launched by different departments. The VLWs were expected to meet the farmers and persuade them to take part in various development schemes. The BDO was assisted by eight Extension Officers, one each for agriculture, animal husbandry, panchayat, cooperation rural industries, rural engineering, social education and women and child welfare. In addition, a medical officer with support staff was posted in each block to provide medical assistance. The extension officers reported primarily to the BDO and to their senior as well, in the respective department, based at the district headquarters. The BDOs reported to the District Collector, who is the administrator of the district. The Development Commissioner, at the state level was responsible for coordinating community development through the District Collectors. At the National level, the administration of the community development programme was entrusted to the Planning Commission (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Multi-level Planning Framework for Community Development in India
District Collector / Chief Executive Officer, Z.P.
District Development Committee
Block Development Officer
Village Level Worker
During the initial phase of community development, the government officials prepared the plan under the guidance of the Planning Commission. There was no opportunity for the community to demand any facilities to solve their problems. As the intention was to ensure people’s participation, advisory committees were subsequently established at various levels. A state level consultative committee consisting of state legislators was constituted for advising on community development. District development or planning committee consisting of officials and non-officials was formed under the chairmanship of the collector. A block level advisory committee was constituted with block level officers and non-officials, member of the parliament and state legislators, heads of educational institutions, progressive agriculturists and representatives of voluntary organisations. As the non-officials were generally interested in matters of personal concern, they did not look at their roles in the proper perspective. Furthermore, as the development programmes approved at the central and state level were rigid, the consultation process remained merely an academic exercise (Maheshwari, 1985).
From 1950s till mid 1970s, there was no significant achievement and poverty was on the verge of increasing. The Indian economy had become slower compared to those in the East and South East Asia over the post independence period. The levels of living were unacceptably low for a large section of the population. The Land Reforms Act of 1956 did remove vestiges of the feudal-colonial rule from the scene, but the enactment of the laws did not help the poor and landless to gain control over the land, particularly in North India. There were fluctuations in the poverty status but the most prominent increase in poverty was observed in the late sixties and early seventies (55% - 69%), when rainfall levels were less than normal and monsoon failures prolonged beyond a year. Even the core programme of agricultural development failed to enhance food production. In early seventies, India was compelled to import foodgrains. Trickling benefits of development were wiped out by the growing population. Improvement in agricultural productivity improvement in the absence of education and infrastructural development was not sustainable. The resources allotted for community development during 1952-67 were also so low that it worked out to hardly Rs.10 per head over this period.
Panchayati Raj Institutions In 1957, five years after launching the community development programme, the Government appointed the Balvantrai Mehta Committee to suggest measures to remove obstacles in implementing the programme. The Committee recommended the formation of a three-tier-system of rural local Government, to be called ‘Panchayati Raj’ (Rule by Local Councils). These were Gram Panchayat (Village level), Panchayat Samiti (Block level) and Zilla Parishad (District level). The aim was to decentralise the process of decision making and to shift the decision making centre closer to the people, encourage their participation and place the bureaucracy under the local people’s control. However, the Panchayati Raj was not able to fulfil all the expectations of the people and planners. A major reason was the domination of socially and economically privileged sections of the local community, who ignored the welfare of the weaker sections. The other reasons were lack of harmony among the elected members due to political fractions and prevalence of corruption and inefficiency (Maheshwari, 1985).
In mid sixties, the national priority was shifted to agricultural production and a distinct technological orientation was given to agriculture. Under the Fourth and Fifth Five Year Plans (1969-74 and 1974-79), the central government introduced independent administrative hierarchies to carry out special programmes, bypassing the Panchayati Raj institutions. Special programmes like Small Farmers’ Development Agency (SFDA), Intensive Agricultural Areas Programme (IAAP), Intensive Agricultural District Programme (IADP), Tribal Development Agency (TDA), Marginal, Small Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Development Agency (MFAL) and area development agencies such as Command Area Development, Drought Prone Area and Hill area Development Programmes were financed and operated directly by the Central Government.
Integrated Rural Development Programme
The special programmes to boost the agricultural production in late sixties certainly helped to raise the food production but the benefits were largely reaped by those who had necessary resources. Small and marginal farmers trailed behind, as they were not directly benefited by the Green Revolution. On the contrary, their economic position worsened as the rich farmers declined to offer their lands for shared cropping. Thus to tackle the problems of the rural poor, the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was introduced in 1979, with specific focus on the weaker sections of the society, particularly those living in poverty and to involve them in programme implementation. While the earlier programmes emphasized on the delivery systems which suppressed self-reliance, there was good scope for people’s initiatives to build up their economy with dignity. Heeding to the criticism, further changes were made in the programme during the Seventh and Eighth Plans (1985-1990 and 1992-1997 respectively). These included the linkage between infrastructure and employment schemes, designing of the programme as a credit based self-employment activity, rather than a subsidy distribution and decentralisation of programme implementation through District Rural Development Agency and block authorities. Several sub-schemes such as Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA), Training of Rural Youth for Self-employment (TRYSEM), National Rural Employment Programme (NREP), Jawahar Rojgar Yojana (JRY) were also launched to target the weaker section of the society.
By mid eighties, the Government was able to meet the minimum needs of the poor, which included elementary education, health, water supply, roads, electrification, housing and nutrition. In 1993-94, about 32.37% of the population in India was poor. The percentage of population living in poverty was high by about 17-22% among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, compared to general categories. This was mainly due to small land holdings, landlessness or illiteracy.
Decentralised Planning for Rural Development
Based on the Sivaraman Committee report, the Planning Commission issued guidelines to all the State Governments in 1987 to consider the block as the unit for planning. The task of planning at the district level was entrusted to the District Planning and Development Council or District Planning Board which had wider representation of the society. This body consisted of elected as well as nominated representatives headed by a Minister or District Collector or a non-official. It was responsible for setting up policy guidelines apart from coordination, monitoring, review, finalisation of annual plans and Five Year Plans and collection of data. At the block level, the officers of different departments prepared the plan as per the guidelines received from their district heads.
This process needed further articulation to prepare the plans in consultation with the Gram Panchayats for implementing the development programmes more effectively and economically. Planning at the village level can be very effective as it can address the problems directly and facilitate development at the grassroot level.
Emphasis on People’s Participation
In spite of many drawbacks in launching community development programmes, the Panchayati Raj has made significant contribution to the development of the country by creating awareness among the public and by developing political leadership. The system has also helped in reducing the gap between the bureaucracy and the people. Centralisation of power and non-involvement of people in the process of development have been the major concerns ever since the introduction of Panchayati Raj. Although, it was widely acknowledged as the only hope for activating people’s participation which is the soul of a democratic system, the system had generated tension and factions. This necessitated Panchayati Raj reforms through the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1992, which empowered the PR institutions to shoulder the responsibility of development and decentralised planning. Till then, all the functions were carried out by the government machinery and there was no scope for participation by the villagers. This had created a dependency syndrome and enabled the government officials to dictate terms to the people (Thapliyal, 1995). Under this constitutional amendment, 29 items of development were transferred to PRIs. These can be grouped under the following sectors: Agriculture; Forestry and Environment; Industries; Infrastructure, minimum needs; Social welfare; Poverty Alleviation and Maintenance of community assets. Considering the weak status of the Gram Panchayats to facilitate village level micro-planning for development, the District Planning Committee has been strengthened with members representing various government and non-government organisations.
To facilitate the planning at micro-level, it is proposed to strengthen the Gram Sabha (village assembly). The Gram Panchayat can use the Gram Sabha as a forum for discussion and finalisation of annual plans. Such a forum can also set the priority for implementing various development programmes. Simultaneously, a suitable mechanism should be developed to sustain the interest of the villagers in Gram Sabha activities. In the absence of adequate participation, vested interests may influence the proceedings for their own benefits. Initiatives from farmers’ organisations, self help groups, educational institutions and other voluntary organisations to nominate their representatives on the Gram Sabha can ensure their participation in the proceedings and safeguard the interest of the common people (Hegde, 1999).
Presently, through the democratic process, over 3.3 million elected leaders have assumed positions at different levels of the Panchayati Raj administration covering 227,678 village Panchayats, 5906 Panchayat Samitis and 474 Zilla Parishads. The mandatory provision of 33% reservation for women and SC/STs have resulted in active participation of these groups. The women could place some priority issues like safe drinking water, girls’ education and basic health services on the Panchayati Raj agenda (NIRD, 1999).
Role of Non-Government Organisations The major factor influencing the successful implementation of rural development in India is motivation of the poor families to ensure their active participation. Development of suitable people’s organisations is also necessary to avail the benefits of various schemes, particularly by the illiterate poor. To ensure people’s involvement in the development process and to take them into confidence, they should be involved in the programme, right from the stage of planning. Several innovative programmes implemented on a pilot scale have shown that many rational suggestions made by even the poor people can be easily implemented to produce good results. Such an approach demands flexibility in the programme. The target families should be motivated to assume the responsibility of implementing the programme, while the implementing agencies should play the role of a catalyst. In this task of integrated rural development, voluntary agencies can play an important role (Sachidananda, 1988).
The voluntary organisations or non-government organisations (NGOs) in general focus their voluntary action and service to tackle the problems of the common people or to help them face their challenges. The main characteristic of voluntary agencies is human-touch. Organisations with strong voluntarism and professionalism can implement the programme efficiently. Dedication of the volunteers and staff, their relationship with the community, flexibility in the programme, innovative approaches to solve the problems can result in greater success. Agencies having deep roots in rural areas can serve the community more effectively (Paul Choudhary, 1990).
It was only during the seventies that the government recognised the role of voluntary agencies in supplementing government’s effort in rural development. Prior to this, the NGOs formed by religious institutions and enlightened public were involved in operating hospitals and educational institutions. With assistance from international donor agencies, the Ministry of Agriculture formed an independent organisation called ‘Freedom from Hunger Campaign’ to support the voluntary organisations involved in rural development. This Organisation was re-organised and renamed as ‘People’s Action for Development-India (PAD-I). PAD-I was merged with Council for Advancement of Rural Technology in 1986 and renamed as Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART). Since then, CAPART has been providing financial assistance to voluntary agencies engaged in rural development. In the last two decades, several initiatives of the non-government organisations have had significant impact on the development. Widespread success of these initiatives have now encouraged many state governments to launch schemes to promote people’s participation and several centrally sponsored schemes have stipulated the development of community based organisations to plan and implement the programme.
With better opportunities for promoting self-employment through investment in agriculture and micro-enterprise, facilities were created for availing soft loans from banks and other financial institutions. The Reserve Bank of India issued guidelines to all the bankers not to insist on collateral security up to Rs.25,000 drawn by the poor for investment in development activities. As a result, over Rs.250 billion was distributed as rural credit in 1995-96, of which 50% amount was from the cooperatives and the rest from other banking institutions. Nevertheless, as the formal banking operations were not convenient for many villagers because of their rigidity, distance and high cost of operation, several innovative banking institutions have been established by the NGOs.
BAIF - A Leading NGO Committed to Rural Development
BAIF Development Research Foundation is a voluntary organisation established by Dr. Manibhai Desai, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi at Urulikanchan, a village near Pune in 1967, with the objective of providing gainful self employment to the rural poor. BAIF has been promoting integrated rural development through sustainable management of degraded natural resources such as land, livestock, water and vegetation, using the idle time of the local people. The programmes also address the problems of health, illiteracy, empowerment of women and environmental pollution to ensure quality of life. BAIF has been focussing on weaker sections of the society through a family based approach and has demonstrated that a family maintaining three high yielding cows or a hectare of degraded land under horti-forestry can earn an annual income of Rs.20,000 – 25,000 (US 500) per year. The gestation period to eradicate poverty through these programmes is only 5-6 years. BAIF has been promoting people’s participation through formation of Self Help Groups and Local Planning Committees who discuss their problems and find out suitable solutions. The members of these groups are trained in various agro-based skills to develop them into local resource persons. The training emphasizes on selection of appropriate technologies, optimum use of resources and management aspects of project implementation.
The Cattle Development Programme operated through 725 centres covering 10,000 villages in seven states is providing breeding services to cattle and buffaloes, at the doorsteps of the farmers. The programme has helped over one million farmers to upgrade their livestock and to increase their income through milk production. Dairy husbandry has been providing an excellent opportunity for women and small farmers to earn a sustainable livelihood, while promoting eco-friendly practices such as organic farming, bio-gas production and stall feeding.
Development of wastelands through tree based farming and water resource management is being implemented in about 1000 villages by providing technical guidance and critical inputs to convert 0.5 to 1.0 ha degraded lands owned by poor families into productive orchards. They are encouraged to plant multipurpose tree species on the bunds and borders of the orchard to serve as wind break and a source of green manure, herbal medicine, fodder, fuel and timber. The interspace used for growing cereals and vegetables has been generating regular income while ensuring food security. A tribal development programme covering these components in Dharampur block of Valsad district in Gujarat has rehabilitated over 16,000 families in the recent past. This programme is being widely replicated in other parts of India with necessary modifications to address the local problems. Community health, an integral part of the overall development strategy, focuses on improved health status of the families through promotion of safe drinking water sources, hygiene and sanitation facilities, nutritious diet, immunisation, mother and child health care, nutrition gardens and health education. Use of traditional health practices with a wide range of home grown herbs and alternate methods of garbage disposal are also being popularised. BAIF has been emphasizing on the formation of people’s organisations in all its development programmes for ensuring sustainable development.
People’s Initiatives for Progress
Farmers in several states have established cooperatives for processing sugarcane, oil-seeds, milk, fruits and vegetables. With professional management and application of modern technologies, these organisations have brought economic stability and eliminated exploitation by intermediary traders. Encouragement is being given to strengthen such organisations throughout the country.
Under a nationwide programme for water resource development, involvement of NGOs as facilitators and formation of water users’ organisations have been encouraged to prepare the micro-level plan and implement the project directly. This programme has made a significant impact on the supply of drinking water and greater awareness is being created on the need to conserve water and energy resources. There is scope for promoting such people’s organisations in other fields as well to develop necessary infrastructure required to enhance economic prosperity. Considering the need for promoting people’s initiatives and local organisations, Self Help Groups, comprising of poor families have been promoted under the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002), through the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) in 1999. SHGs consisting of 10-20 members belonging to backward socio-economic status encourage the participants to meet regularly to collect their savings and disburse it as loan to needy members. During this process, they also discuss their problems and find suitable solutions. Finally, it is the people’s initiative which can sustain the development. The government has the will to support people’s movement and this is the only ray of hope for sustainable development of the rural poor in India.
Gandhi, M.K. 1941. Constructive Programme : Its meaning and places. Navjeevan Publishing House, Ahmedabad : 9-20.
Hegde, N.G. 1999. Development of Infrastructure for Rural Prosperity. Presented at the NIRD Foundation Day Seminar on “Rural Prosperity and Agriculture : Strategies and Policies for the next millennium”. National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad: 10 pp.
Maheshwari, S.R. 1985. Rural Development in India : A Public Policy Approach. SAGE Publications, New Delhi : 35-51.
NIRD. 1999. India Development Report – 1999 : Regional disparities in development and poverty. National Institute for Rural Development, Hyderabad : 198 pp.
Paul Choudhary, D. 1990. Voluntary effort in social welfare and development. Siddartha Publishers, New Delhi : 86-110.
Sachidananda. 1988. Social Change in Village India. Concept Publishing Co. New Delhi : 71-84.
Thapliyal, B.K. 1995. Decentralised planning in the Panchayati Raj Frame. In ‘Emerging Trends in Panchayati Raj (Rural local self-government) in India’. NIRD, Hyderabad : 71-102.
Profile of Dharamapur Block in Valsad District of Gujarat
Land, People and Climate
Dharampur is a backward hilly block dominated by tribal population (95%). The total area of the block is 163,431 ha with a population density of 1.86 persons per ha. There are 237 villages. The number of households in the villages varied from 82 to 756, with population ranging from 455 to 4213.
The climate of the block is humid to sub-humid. The average rainfall is 2475 mm, spread over four month from June to September. There is acute shortage of potable water during the summer (April-May).
Of the total land area in the block, forests cover 55%, agricultural lands cover 33% and the rest is barren grazing land and other lands used for non-agricultural purposes. The per capita land available for cultivation is 0.19 ha. In the absence of ground water potential, there are no irrigation facilities available in the block.
Transport and Communication
Most of the villages are connected by metal roads but communication in rainy season is difficult. More than 35% villages do not have public transport services and some of the villagers have to cover a distance of 10 km from the nearest bus stop. Only 63 villages have post offices while other villages are 5-10 km away from this facility. All the villages are connected by electrical power supply but the dependability is very poor.
As per 1991 census, there are 321 primary schools (atleast one per village), 22 secondary schools and higher secondary schools. Only 27% population were literates (34% male and 20% female).
There are 8 primary health centres and 73 sub-health centres. Only one Government hospital is located in the block headquarters. People are dependent on wells, ponds and river for drinking water. As about 75% of the drinking water was polluted, hand pumps were installed to shallow tube wells for drawing water. However, over 60% of these tube walls were dry during summer season (March-May).
42.7% population is work force of which 73.4% are represented by cultivators, 19.9% are agricultural labourers and the rest are engaged in activities allied to agriculture, cottage industries, trade, etc. The female population in the work force is 28.2%, mostly engaged in agriculture. Seasonal migration during non-monsoon period is a common practice.
The main crops grown in the block were paddy, finger millet, pulses, covering 90% cropping area. The crop yields were extremely low (paddy : 777 kg/ha; Finger millet : 636 kg/ha; pulses : 196 kg/ha.). The average value of major crops was in the range of Rs.2000 to Rs.4000 per ha. On an average, agricultural land holding in these villages was 0.85 ha per household. The major inputs used for crop production were hired labour and bullocks which accounted for 70% value of the total inputs, while the value of fertilisers was 17%.
Livestock rearing was the traditional activity but not on a commercial scale. Cattle and goat are the common livestock found in these villages. However, the livestock population per village was in the range of 100 to 1000, with 1-2, heads of cattle and goat per family. Families migrating for seasonal employment did not prefer to keep livestock, particularly cattle. There were no veterinary service facilities except around the block headquarters.
Status of Natural Resources
Denudation of forests was heavy in most of the villages. Villagers in about 75% of the villages had initiated soil and water conservation during recent years.
None of the villages had any cooperative banks, commercial banks, input supply centres, agro-service facilities, regulated market, milk collection centres, telephone and telegraph facilities or railway station. The villagers had to go to the town (block headquarters) to buy most of their essentials.
More than 80% families lived in huts and only 5% families lived in permanently built houses. 97% households had no toilet facilities. Most of the households (95%) were using woodfuel and traditional smoky wood stoves for cooking food. They travelled 1-2 km to fetch fuelwood and fodder.
Most of the households used government or private medical facilities. Lack of sanitary facilities and dumping of agricultural wastes and manure around the houses were the major causes for illness. Maternity care was looked after by a midwife as the services of nurses and doctors were lacking.
Most of the households had been immunised against BCG, Polio and Tetanus. The common diseases reported were diarrhoea and fever, linked to cough and cold. There were no kindergartens but the villagers were sending their children to schools.
Based on this information, BAIF has developed an integrated rural development programme covering 150 villages. Major activities covered under the programme are development of degraded wastelands into orchards, water resource development, improvement in cropping practices, women empowerment, initiation of non-farm micro-enterprises, community health and literacy, as per the plans jointly developed by the participating families and the Field Extension Officers.
(Source : The above information is based on the baseline survey conducted by Agricultural Finance Corporation Ltd. Mumbai.)