2nd Five Year Plan
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Chapter 11:

Community projects and the National Extension Service have a place of central importance in those sectors of development which bear most closely upon the welfare of the rural population. From the beginning three aspects of this programme have been emphasised. In the first place, national extension and community projects are intended to be areas of intensive effort in which development agencies of the government work together as a team in programmes which are planned and coordinated in advance. The activities comprised within the community development and national extension programme should be regarded as an integral part of a programme for improving all aspects of rural life. In the second place, the essence of the approach is that villagers come together for bringing about social change are assisted in building up a new life for themselves and participate with increasing awareness and responsibility in the planning and implementation of projects which are material to their well being. If the programme provides them with new opportunities, in turn, through their active participation in its execution, they give it a distinctive quality and enlarge its scope and influence. Selfhelp and cooperation are the principles on which the movement rests. Thirdly, the movement shold bring within its scope all rural families, especially those who are "under-privileged", and enable them to take their place in the cooperative movement and other spheres in their own right. It is on account of these features that, national extension and community projects are regarded as the normal pattern of the welfare state in action.

2. In the First Five Year Plan community development was described as the method and rural extension as the agency through which the process of transformation of the social and economic life of villages was to be initiated. Once the impulse has been given and the first stages of the journey covered, a programme such as that of community development and national extension grows out of its own experience and momentum. As it expands, it meets old needs and creates new ones. New methods are discovered, deficiencies long ignored come to be recognised, and in content and in the manner of its functioning the programme may succeed in solving the vital problems oftlie community. Gradually, the problems of the village are seen in a larger context, and activities in different fields are undertaken so as to supplement one another. National extension and community projects provide the setting in which the national plan approaches the needs and aspirations of the countryside. It is natural therefore that during the second plan they should reflect increasingly the changes in emphasis, priorities and general outlook which guide overall planning. Thus, expansion in its coverage from one fourth to almost the entire rural population is but one aspect of the deepening and broadening of the programme which has now to be achieved. National extension and community projects should play a large part in promoting the diversification of the agricultural economy and in increasing agricultural production. They should also increase greatly the reserves of skill and the habit of improvision of new techniques to serve local needs which are a condition of large-scale industrialisation. In under-developed countries there can be no substantial economic developmenf without social change. Increasingly, through the operation of land reform, attention to the needs of the landless and the disadvantaged sections of the population, strengthening of the village organisation and the building up of local leadership, and ihe growth of the cooperative movement, the programme should become a positive force for bringing about both an integrated rural society and an expanding rural economy.

3. In a programme of such far-reaching significance spread over the entire country, it is essential that at each stage its working should be observed closely and objectively. Extension and community projects are primarily an agency for fulfilling the aims, policies * and programmes envisaged in national and State plans in terms of the needs, problems and resources of each local area. On the one hand, the programmes of each project area form part of the district plan which has been described in Chapter VII. On the other, it is through intensive work in national extension and community projects areas that increasingly programmes in different fields of development are to be carried out, notably in agriculture and allied activities, cooperation and land reform, village and small industries, rural electrification and social services such as health, education, housing and welfare programmes for backward classes. Thus, the working of the national extension and community development programme reflects the measure in which the specific tasks set out in the development block budgets are carried out and, what is even more important, influences enormously the manner In which national and State plans in different fields will function at the village level and the results which may be obtained from them. It is against this background that the findings and observations of the third Evaluation Report of Planning Commission's Programme Evaluation Organisation on the working of community projects and national extension service blocks which have recently become available, should receive serious consideration from everyone associated with the working of the programme.

4. In the national extension and community development programme the unit of operation is the development block which represents on an average 100 villages with a population of 60,000 to 70,000 persons spread over an area of 150 to 170 square miles. Since the programme commenced in October, 1952, in all 1,200 development blocks have been taken up, 300 under the community projects scheme and 900 under the national extension service scheme. Of the latter, after a period, 400 development blocks have passed into the relatively more intensive phase of development represented by the community development programme. Under the pattern which is now followed, every new development block is first taken up under the national extension service scheme, which had, during the first five year plan, a programme budget ofRs. 450,000. This amount was in addition to the special provision which was made in the national extension service scheme for short-term credit This assured credit, along with the efforts of extension staff to promote its planned utilisation, was intended to stimulate agricultural production in national extension areas. After a period, which may extend from one to two years, for a proportion of national extension projects, there is further period of development of three years during which the rest of the programme envisaged in the budget of the community development block budget of Rs. 1.5 million is undertaken. In this manner the national extension and community development aspects of the programme have become related phases of a single programme, the normal pattern of development administration being represented by the national extension service. National extension and community development blocks taken up during each year are reckoned as a separate series and their progress is observed accordingly. The distribution of 1,200 blocks taken up during the first plan and the coverage in population and number of villages represented by them are given below:

Development blocks taken up during the first five year plan

  1952-53 1953-54 1954-55 1955-56 Total
Development blocks
Community development 247 53     300
National extension   251 253 396 900
total : 247 304 253 396 1,200
Number of villages
Community development 25.264 7,693     32,957
National extension   25,100 25,300 39,600 90,000
total : 25.264 32,793 25,300 39,600 1,22,957
Stipulation (million)
Community development 16.4 4.0     20.4
National extension   16.6 16.7 26.1 59.4
total : 16.4 20.6 16.7 26.1 79.8

Thus, by the end of the first five year plan coor-iJinated development programmes will have been initiated in areas which comprise about 123,000 villages and a population of about 80 million. In villages which are not yet within the scope of the national extension and community development programme local development works as well as various agricultural programmes have been carried out.

5. As stated earlier, all activities undertaken in national extension and community projects are integral parts of programmes in the respective sectors of development with which different development departments are concerned. It is necessary that in each State greater attention should be given to the methods adopted for reporting on rural programmes and for assessing the results achieved. The available data suggest that in national extension and community project areas programmes for minor irrigation, distribution of chemical fertilizers and use of improved seeds have been followed to a substantially greater extent than most other areas. The people have participated in a large number of activities, and this has given them a feeling of greater confidence in their ability, with some measure of assistance, to find solutions to local problems. Thus, the construction in project areas of 14,000 new schools, conversion of 5,154 primary schools into basic schools, opening of 35,000 adult education centres which have imparted literacy to 773,000 adults, the construction of 4,069 miles of metalled and of 28,000 miles of unmetalled road and the building of 80,000 village latrines are illustrations of local development which have far-reaching social implications. In all these the greater part of the effort has come from the people and government agencies, notably extension workers, have served as guides. If the achievement in the field of cooperation and village industry has been small, this is due in some part to the fact that in these fields, even for the country as a whole, co-operative activity and new work opportunities have still to be adequately organised.

6. The third Evaluation Report has, however, drawn attention to certain features in the practical working of the programme to which careful consideration will doubtless be given by State Governments and district authorities. Among the more crucial of these are:—

(1) For the national extension and community development programme to yield the benefits expected of it, considerable strengthening of the various technical departments is needed at all levels and in all branches. In many cases departmental organisations at district and field level must be improved both in numbers and quality.

(2). Besides a general expansion of research facilities, research units nearer the field should be strenghened and there should be better flow of information from the field to the research unit.

(3) The dual control of specialists concerned with different subjects at the block level by the Block Development Officer (whose administrative control may sometimes go too far) and by technical officers at the district level is not yet working satisfactorily. It has happened in many cases that departmental officers, instead of looking upon the extension or community project as their own agency, have concentrated attention in areas other than those included in the extension and community development programme where they had more direct control over their specialist staffs. To insist on the correct pattern, of administrative and technical co-ordination at the State, district and block level is obviously of the highest importance for, in the next few years, the national extension service will have reached the entire rural population.

(4) Construction activities have tended to take an increasing proportion of the time of the village level worker whose primary training is in agriculture and agricultural extension and whose most important duty is to promote agricultural production.

(5) Village Panchayats should receive constant guidance and active assistance to enable them to discharge the increasing responsibilities now being placed upon them.

(6) In the operation of the programme there has been excessive emphasis on physical and 'financial' accomplishments—getting targets achieved, expenditure incurred, buildings constructed, etc. and not enough on educating the people into new ways of doing things, on making the national extension service an effective agency for carrying out the total programme of development and reform provided for by the national and State plans.

7. The participation of the people in the planning and execution of rural schemes is an essential feature of the movement and in this the results achieved are promising. Where a correct approach has been made on behalf of the administration the people have come forward readily to play their part The value of the contribution which the people have made in national extension and community project areas amounts to about 56 per cent of the expenditure incurred by the Government In enlisting the participation of the people, use has been made of local organisations like pan-chayats and cooperative societies, but it is appreciated that this direction more has to be done. In some areas development activities have been entrusted to ad-hoc, non-elective bodies such as Gram Vikas Mandals and others. While such bodies have served a practical purpose, on the whole, as the second as well as the third Evaluation Report on community projects have pointed out there has to be greater emphasis on the building up of strong basic institutions in villages, on strenthening their resources and on providing them continuous guidance, opportunity and experience.

8. During the first plan, in implementing the community development and national extension programme, a major task was to provide for.an adequate administrative structure, to establish appropriate practices, to train personnel and to evolve methods of achieving day-to-day collaboration between official and non-official agencies. The progress made in these directions has laid the foundations for the larger effort envisaged in the second five year plan. It has also pointed to directions in which more thought is needed and better arrangements have to be devised. On the whole, though there are differences to be remedied, as pointed out in the chapter on District Development Administration, the scheme of coordination within the administration which has been evolved in the district has operated fairly smoothly. The district administration is functioning to an increasing extent as a welfare administration. At the end of the first plan the staff engaged in national extension and community projects numbers over 80,000.

9. Large-scale training programmes have been organised for several categories of personnel. For the training of village level workers 34 extension training centres were organised in 1952 and there are now 43 such centres with an annual output of'about 5,000. Basic training in agriculture is being given to them in a large number of institutions, which include 30 new basic agricultural schools, 18 agricultural wings attached to existing training centres and several reorganised institutions. For training women village level workers 25 home economics wings and 2 auxiliary home economics cells have been organised at extension training centres. Eighteen institutions for training auxiliary nurse-midwives are being assisted to make up the shortage which exists in this field and 9 schools have been approved for the training of lady health visitors and 12 schools for the training of mid-wives. Arrangements for training co-operative officers have been made under the auspices of the Central Committee for Co-operative Training, and for staff for village and small industries in collaboration with the Khadi and Village Industries Board and the Small-scale Industries Board. Three centres have been set up for training block development officers and 9 for the training of social education organisers. Training facilities for social education organisers available at existing centres have also been enlarged. At one centre social education organisers assigned to tribal areas are being trained.

10. The organisation of training facilities on the scale required for the national extension and community development programme was a task of considerable magnitude. On its successful execution depended the success of the programme as a whole. In the expansion of the programme it is a guiding consideration that the training of personnel should be undertaken in advance of the programme and the rate of expansion should be determined by the numbers of trained personnel available. In addition to training imparted in institutions, exchange of experience, opportunity to express opinion freely and participation by individuals engaged in the programme at different levels and in different fields contribute to the growth of the outlook needed for the dynamic implementation of the national extension and community development programme. In this connection the arrangements which have been made for inter-State seminars, in-service training and study tours have been of help and have provided a useful element of criticism and reform from within. In carrying out a programme of such dimensions it is recognised that every one engaged in it should feel free to receive and interpret new experience, to re-examine past practice and assumptions and to seek out new ways of achieving the basic aims. No part of the programme should become stereotyped and the danger, ever present in any. large undertaking, of rigidity and lack of adaptation or of giving insufficient attention to the wider aims and priorities of national planning has to be guarded against.

Programme For The Second Plan

11. It was agreed by the National Development Council in September, 1955 that during the second five year plan the entire country should be served by the national extension service and that not less than 40 per cent. of the national extension blocks should be converted into community development blocks. The question of converting a higher proportion up to 50 per cent. of national extension blocks into community development blocks would depend upon sufficient resources becoming available for this purpose. During the second plan 3800 additional development blocks are to be taken up under the national extension scheme and of these it is expected that 1120 will be converted into community development blocks. The plan provides a sum of Rs. 200 crores for implementing the programme.

12. The tentative programme of the Community Projects Administration, contemplates that national extension service blocks and their conversion into community development blocks may be taken up during each year of the second five year plan as follows:

Numbers at Development Blocks

Year National Extension Service. Conversion into Community Development Blocks.
T956-57 500  
1957-58 650 200
1958-59 750 260
1959-60 900 300
1960-61 1,000 360
  3800 1120

For general guidance it is envisaged that the outlay in a national extension service block may be Rs.4 lakhs and in a community development block Rs. 12 lakhs. The distribution of the allotment of Rs. 200 crores between States has not yet been made in terms of the new programme, its present distribution shown in State plans being altogether provisional. It is reckoned that of this sum about Rs. 12 crores will be required at the Centre for schemes undertaken or directly sponsored by the Community Projects Administration and about Rs. 188 crores will form part of the plans of States. The tentative distribution of the total provision for the national extension and community development programme between different heads of development is somewhat as follows:

Rs. Crores

l. Personnel and equipment Block headquarters 52
2. Agriculture (Animal husbandry and agricultural extension, irrigation and reclamation) 55
3. Communications 18
4. Rural arts and crafts 5
5. Education 12
6. Social education 10
7. Health and rural sanitation 20
8. Housing (for project staff and rural housing) 16
9. Community Development—Miscellaneous (Centre) 12
  total 200

These provisions have to be kept in view when considering allotments under different heads in the second five year plan.

13. In carrying out the programme for the second five year plan, it is realised that a sense of participation and a definite programme of work for improving its standard of living has to be carried to every rural family. It is hoped that both through the national extension and community development pro gramme as well as through other complementary programmes during the next few years, besides agricultural production, there will be marked progress in the following fields:—

  1. development of cooperative activities, including cooperative farming;
  2. development of panchayats as institutions actively responsible for village development;
  3. consolidation of holdings;
  4. development of village and small industries;
  5. organisation of programmes designed to assist the weaker sections of the village community, especially small farmers, landless tenants, agricultural labourers and artisans;
  6. more intensive work among women and among youth; and
  7. intensive work in tribal areas.

14. For implementing programmes in such diverse fields as village and small industries, cooperation, agricultural production, land reform and social services, areas selected for intensive work under the national extension and community development programme provide specially favourable opportunities. When these programmes are undertaken in a coordinated manner and the necessary local institutions and support are organised, success in one programme creates the conditions for success in another, and the entire economy of an area may gain greater strength. During the second plan agricultural production has the first and foremost claim on extension workers. Next to it inadequate work opportunities are the most pressing rural need. In a balanced rural economy it is important that opportunities for non-agricultural work should increase steadily relatively to agricultural work. Recent experience of village and small industry programmes has pointed to the need for an extension service which can be in touch with village artisans, provide the necessary guidance and assistance, organise them in co-operatives and help them market their products both within and outside the rural area. A beginning in this direction has been made with 26 pilot projects. It is essential that as early as may be possible each extension and community project area should have a trained specialist to carry out the rural industry programme.

15. The implementation of cooperative programmes in community project and national extension areas has been uneven in character and frequently either adequate personnel has not been available or existing cooperative organisations have not been reorganised and enabled to participate in the work of the project. These aspects should receive special attention during the second five year plan. The importance of consolidation of holdings has already been stressed.

16. The budget of each community development block provided for two women village level workers. Women are now becoming available in increasing number for training as village level workers, but it is obvious that before long there will be need for much larger numbers. The experience gained in social welfare extension projects as well as in community project areas deserves to be studied more closely with the object of evolving suitable patterns of organisation for work among rural women and children. In each district there should be close coordination between national extension and community projects and social welfare extension projects. Work among rural youth is sdll in a very preliminary stage/but its importance for the development of leadership in rural areas cannot be under estimated.

17. The special problems which tribal areas present are considered in Chapter XXVIII. It is the aim of the national extension service to render the maximum assistance possible in the development of these areas. This aim will be facilitated through new administrative arrangements which have been recently agreed between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Community Projects Administration. In view of the scattered nature of the population in tribal areas, it has been suggested that national extension service blocks should be demarcated on the basis of an average population of approximately 25,000 instead of 66,000. Where the population is partly tribal and partly non-tribal, a project could serve larger numbers. In taking up new development blocks preference is proposed to be given to tribal areas with a view to bringing them under the national extension programme as early as may be possible. The programme budget is flexible enough to permit such changes as may be required in view of local requirements. In areas having both tribal and non-tribal populations it is contemplated that the extension team should include an official with close acquaintance with the tribal section of the population. As far as possible, areas selected for implementing special programmes for the welfare of scheduled tribes and scheduled areas will correspond to national extension blocks. Welfare schemes taken up under this programme will be implemented in the first instance.in development blocks under the national extension scheme so that maximum use is made of the available trained personnel.

18. During the second five year plan the national extension and community development programme will require about 200,000 workers in addition to those already serving the programme. The necessary arrangements for training have been made. It has been decided to add 18 extension training centres, 25 basic agricultural schools and 16 agricultural wings for imparting basic agricultural training. Thus, for training in extension and agriculture during the second plan there will be altogether 61 extension training centres and 95 agricultural schools or agricultural wings attached to training centres.

19. As the programme grows in size and the range of activities which it encompasses or influences increases, a great deal of the initiative in implementing it must pass to the people of each local area. Some of the simpler needs such as village roads, water supply and sanitation and opportunities for education may be met at a fairly early stage. The problems of increasing production and employment and diversifying rural economic life are more complex and will need sustained administrative effort over a considerable period. It is necessary to stress that while the material conditions have to be assured, transformation of the social and economic life of rural areas is essentially a human problem. It is a problem, briefly, of changing the outlook of 70 million families living in the countryside, arousing in them enthusiasm for new knowledge and new ways of life and filling them with the ambition and the will to live and work for a better life. Extension services and community organisations are among the principal sources of vitality in democratic planning, and rural development projects are the means by which, through cooperative self-help and local effort, villages and groups of villages can achieve in increasing measure both social change and economic progress and become partners in the national plan.

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