The main objective of rural development has been to remove poverty of the people and fill the widened gap between the rich and the poor. This has been also vocalized in the policy of the government which says: said, ‘Rural poverty alleviation has been the primary concern in the economic planning and development process of the country … rural development which encompasses the entire gamut of improvement in the overall quality of life in the rural areas can be achieved through eradication of poverty in rural areas.’
Keeping in view the planning policy in mind, various schemes of development, especially the development of agriculture, the main occupation of the rural people, have been introduced.
1.Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP):
The programme was launched by the Centre in March 1976 as a major instrument of the government to alleviate poverty. Its main feature was to enable selected families to cross the poverty line in a given time-frame by taking up self-employment in various activities like agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, weaving and handicrafts and services and business activities.
The target group consisted of small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and rural artisans having annual income below Rs 11,000 defined as poverty line in the Eighth Plan. Among the selected families, it is stipulated that at least 50 per cent of assisted families should be from SCs and STs. Furthermore, 40 per cent of the coverage should be of women beneficiaries. In spite of its many important features, the programme has also been criticized widely.
2.Training Rural Youths for Self-Employment (TRYSEM):
This scheme was launched in 1979 to provide technical skills (training) to rural youths (between 18-35 years) living below the poverty line, to enable them to seek employment in fields of agriculture, industry, services and business activities.
As in other schemes of poverty alleviation, in this scheme also, youths belonging to SCs and STs and ex-servicemen, who had passed ninth class, were given priority. One-third seats were reserved for women. The beneficiaries of this scheme after completion of training were absorbed in the IRDP scheme.
According to an estimate, up to 1995-96, about two lakh youths were being trained every year, of whom about 45 per cent became self-employed and 30 per cent got regular employment.
3. Food for Work Programme (FWP):
This programme was introduced in 1977 by the then Janata government with the objective to provide employment to the unemployed/underemployed village persons during the slack season. The wages paid to the workers were in kind, i.e., food grains.(Rural Development)
The works undertaken were flood protection, maintenance of existing roads, construction of new link roads, improvement of irrigation facilities, construction of school buildings, medical and health centres and Panchayat Ghars (community halls) etc.
4. National Rural Employment Programme (NREP):
This is redesigned programme of FWP, planned for creating additional employment opportunities in the rural areas with the help of surplus food grains. It was started in 1980 as a part of the Sixth Plan (1980-85). This programme was especially for those rural people who largely depended on wage employment but had no source of income during lean agricultural period. PRIs were actively involved in this programme.
Later on, this programme was merged with Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY).
5. Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP):
Special schemes were formulated by some states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat to provide increasing employment opportunities to rural people, especially landless people. Maharashtra started the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) for the unemployed in rural areas. The Gujarat government’s scheme provided for unskilled jobs to the unemployed workers on different projects. This scheme was later on merged into JRY along with NREP.
6. Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY):
This programme came into existence in April 1989 with the merger of the NREP and the RLEGP. Under this scheme, it was expected to provide at least one member of each poor family (BPL family) an employment for 50 to 100 days in a year at a work near his/her residence. About 30 per cent of the jobs under this programme were reserved for women. The scheme was implemented through Village Panchayats.
7. Antyodaya Yojana:
The Hindi word ‘antyodaya’ is a combination of two words—ant meaning end or bottom level and udaya meaning development. Thus, as a whole, it implies the development or welfare of a person standing at the end of the queue (lowest level), that is, the poorest of the poor.
This programme was initiated by the Government of Rajasthan on 2nd October, 1977 for special assistance to persons living below the poverty line (BPL). It was later on picked up by the then Janata government at the centre in 1978. The idea was to select five of the poorest families from each village every year and help them in their economic betterment.
For the selection of beneficiary families, a few economic criteria were laid down, in order of priority:
(1) families under severe destitution without any productive assets with no member in the age group of 15-59 years capable of any economic activity;
(2) families without any productive assets of land or cattle but having one or more persons capable of working and with a per capita income up to Rs 20 per month;
(3) families having some productive assets with per capita income upto Rs 30 per month; and
(4) families having per capita income upto Rs 40 per month.
Under this scheme, assistance was given in the form of allotting land for cultivation, monthly pension (Rs 30-40 per month), bank loan for purchasing bullocks, buffaloes, cows, goats and pigs, basket making, carpentry tools, opening a tailor’s shop, a tea shop, a barber’s shop or a grocer’s shop and manufacturing activities like niwar-making, soap-making, etc.(Rural Development)
Following the footsteps of the Government of Rajasthan, UP and Himachal governments also launched it on the same lines in 1980. The scheme has seen much ups and downs with many shortcomings, such as delay in the payment of loans, apathy on the part of government officials, etc. ‘Antyodaya,’ as preached by Mahatma Gandhi, has disappeared into ‘ananta’ or eternity and is replaced with ‘swantyodaya’, meaning one’s own development. It places emphasis on ‘myself mentality.
8. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS):
After independence, for the development of rural society, particularly to develop the socio-economic life of the rural poor, many schemes and programmes were launched from time to time but unfortunately the fruits of these programmes reached to a very low proportion of these people.
It was estimated about 70 per cent of rural population was still deprived of the basic necessities of life. For the purpose of extending the benefits to rural people, a new scheme was launched and legislation was enacted under the name ‘National Rural Employment Guarantee Act’ (NREGA).
This scheme was initially started in 200 districts of the country from February 2006 and from April 2008, it has been extended to cover all the districts of the country. The main objective of the scheme is to provide 100 days employment to rural unemployed people. In this scheme, employment to women is also provided.(Rural Development)
Like other rural development schemes, this scheme is also plagued with many problems—workers’ identification and registration, muster rolls, works attendance, calculations and disbursement of wages and overall transparency. In recent months, people from all circles have also voiced great concern about the rampant corruption in this scheme.(Rural Development)
9. 20-Point Programme:
This has been a major programme of rural development encompassing various aspects of rural people. This programme is associated with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who introduced it in July 1975 for reducing poverty and economic exploitation and for the uplift of weaker sections of society. She gave the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’ during parliamentary elections.(Rural Development)
The important goals of this programme were:
1. Welfare of the rural masses.
2. Increase in rural employment.
3. Minimum wages to landless labourers.
4. Uplift of the SC and ST people.
5. Growth of housing facilities.
6. New programmes of family planning.
7. Extension of primary health facilities.
8. Making primary education more effective.
9. Welfare of women and children.
10. Some other programmes—drinking water facilities, public distribution system, increasing power production, etc.
Some Other Development Schemes:
1. Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Sadak Yojana (PMAGSY):
It focuses on integrated development of 100 villages with a 50 per cent population of SCs.
2. Bharat Nirman Yojana:
It was launched in 2005 for building infrastructure and basic amenities in rural areas. It comprises of six components—rural housing, irrigation, drinking water, rural roads, electrification and rural telephony.(Rural Development)
3. Indira Awas Yojana:
It is one of the six components of Bharat Nirman Yojana. It was introduced in 1985-86. It aims to help built or upgrade the households of people living under BPL.
4. Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM):
It was launched on 3rd December, 2005. The main objective of this scheme was fast track development of cities across the country. It was focused especially on developing efficient urban infrastructure service delivery mechanism, community participation and accountability of urban local bodies and other agencies towards citizen.(Rural Development)
5. Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY):
This programme was announced in June 2009 with an objective to make the country slum-free.
6. National Rural Health Mission:
It was launched to make basic health care facilities accessible to the rural people.
7. National Rural Livelihood Mission:
It is meant to eradicate poverty by 2014-15.
8. National Food Security Scheme:
On the pattern of MNREGS, the central government is trying hard to bring a bill in the monsoon session (2013) to provide guarantee for food to the poor people, although it has already issued an ordinance in this regard.(Rural Development)