Rural development is an obligation of the Government to raise the standard of living of the
rural people. World Bank defined rural development in terms of an improvement of the economic and social life of the rural poor. Rural development encompasses all sectors of rural life. In its widest sense, it implies development of every aspect of rural life. There are number of rural development programs were started by the Nationalists and Social reformers. Some of these programs gradually disappeared or some were merged with Government sponsored schemes later. ‘This is because of various reasons like lack of encouragement of the Government, lack of financial support, inadequate, in experienced and untrained staff. For the clarity, we can divide these Development Programmes in two parts: Pre-Independence Programmes, and Post-Independence Programmes.
Pre-independence era Programmes:-
1. Sriniketan Project
In 1920, Rabindra Nath Tagore laid the foundation of the Sriniketan Institute for Rural
Reconstruction with the help of sociologist Shri L.M. Hurst. and formulated aprogramme for the all- round improvement in the Village of his Zamindari with the objective of studying rural problems and of helping the Villagers to develop agriculture, improving thelivestock, formation of co-operatives. He believed in self help and mutual help and wanted the village workers to be involved in the life of rural people and work for their welfare. He started this programme in the cluster of 8 Villages but were not very successful and can only be described as rural welfare works. The absence of market facilities, professional guidance, lack of co-ordination between the
implementing authority and improper incentives for workers made the task more difficult and desired results could not be achieved.
2. Gurgaon experiment
In 1920, Mr. Brayne had been appointed on the post of Deputy Commissioner in Gurgaon
district and he began this project of rural upliftment in his district, which became famous as “Gurgaon Project.” The programme aimed at improving agriculture, education, health and sanitation facilities, co-operation, and social development with greater vigor. He stressed on the dignity of labour, self help and conducted propaganda through films, songs, skits and plays with a view to increase farm yields and improving health standards. Although this project got some success yet this scheme also could not survive more because this project was also based upon the sentiments of F.L. Brayne and when he was transferred, gradually this programme also stopped.
3. Marthandam Project
Dr. Spencer Hatch of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) set up a Project in
1921 at Martandam, 25 miles south of Thiruvananthapuram. The purpose of this experiment was to bring about a complete upward development towards a more complete and meaningful life for rural people three folded development -spirit, mind and body. To achieve this they launched five sided programme-spiritual, mental, physical, economic and social development were also included. The main stress in programme was on the principle that people should not depend on Government for support because when concessions and help in any field are not given, the people develop in them a feeling of self-help and self- reliance.
The objectives of this programme was the YMCA should work in the Villages to eliminate poverty. For the Rural Demonstration Centre at Martandam had a demonstration farm, prized animals, equipment for the honey industry and other cottage vocations.
4. Firka Development scheme
The Firka Development scheme of Madras was a Government sponsored Scheme in 1946 this
programme aimed at organizing the villagers for a happier, more prosperous and fuller life in which the individual villagers had the opportunity to develop both as an individual and as a unit of a well-integrated society. Among Pre-Independence project, this was the biggest project. Selection of Firkas-based on general backwardness of the area and where there is possibility of initiating cottage industries. The priority areas of work for each Firka included Rural reconstruction facility, Drinking water facility, Sanitation Khadi and other village industries.
For the overall development of the area planning was framed in two categories
Short term plans (development of infrastructure, communications)
Long term plans (knowledge inputs, attainment of Gandhian ideal )
Post- Independence Era Programme
1. Etawah Pilot Project :-
In 1947, after Independence, the Government of India prioritised on rural development and
how this work should be managed. For this the guidance of an experienced person was needed. The Government of India urged the U.S. government to send Mr. Albert Mayor to India because he had enough experience of rural development programme and was a Rural Sociologist.
Under the leadership of Lt.Col.Albert Mayor of USA , the office of Etawah Pilot Project
was established by the U.P Govt. in October 1948 at Mahewa in the Etawah District. Initially 64
villages were selected around Mahewa District for the development. It was also called Average
District Plan because the project was initiated in the normal environment . This programme named as pilot project means the work is for specific location and further it shows the path. This programme was the forerunner of CDP . (Community Development Programme)
2. Nilokheri Project
Nilokheri Project was started by S.K. Dey design to rehabilitate about 7000 displaced person
(immigrants) from Pakistan after partition . He began this project using 100 acre of swampy land spreading in the midst of Karnal and Kurukshetra. The colony had its own dairy,
poultry, piggery, printing press, engineering workshop ,bone meal factory all run on cooperative lines. The Scheme was called “Mazdoor Manzil” because it was based on the principle of ‘he who would not work neither shall he eat.
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