3rd Five Year Plan
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Introduction || Planning Commission
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Chapter 18:


Public cooperation has been recognised as an essential condition for the success of our Plans. Its role and contribution have to be judged in relation to the social and economic objectives that the country is seeking to achieve. For a developing country, which cherishes its democratic values, the people's part in the attainment of these objectives is of supreme importance. The peaceful struggle for freedom and the tradition of constructive work associated with it had marked out for the people a decisive role in the tasks of planned development initiated ten years ago. Shramdan, the contribution of the people to local works and amenities, and their participation in the community development movement are among the ways in which their support has been enlisted in the tasks of national development. It is evident, however, that the possibilities of full involvement of the people in the processes of change and growth are not being realised to a sufficient degree.

2. In the context of democracy, administration is effective in the measure it is based in its day-to-day working on the participation and support of the people. In the activities in which official agencies are engaged there is a large sphere in which the cooperation of the people can be sought and secured to achieve a degree of success which would otherwise not be possible. These tasks should be identified precisely and the obligations and responsibilities of the people in relation thereto made known clearly.

3. The people in the rural areas are now coming into their own. Direct responsibility for the administration of their affairs is being passed on to them as panchayati raj gets established in one State after another. The transformation now occurring at the base in the country-side, and emerging from panchayati raj, is intended to facilitate the fuller play of the energy and initiative of the people in dealing with the tasks which lie close to them in the villages of the country. Conditions are being created for a fuller use of the manpower and other resources in order to secure more rapid development in every direction. This will also widen very much the opportunities for public participation.

4. The concept of public cooperation is related, in its wider aspect, to the much larger sphere of voluntary action in which the initiative and organisational responsibility rest completely with the people and their leaders, and does not rely on legal sanctions or the power of the State for achieving its aims. So vast are the unsatisfied needs of the people that all the investments in the public and private sectors together can, at this stage, only make a limited provision for them. Properly organised voluntary effort may go far towards augmenting the facilities available to the community for helping the weakest and the most needy to a somewhat better life. The wherewithal for this has to come from time, energy and other resources of millions of people for whom voluntary organisations can find constructive channels suited to the varying conditions in the country. Everyone can contribute something. But the greater obligation in this regard lies on those who are better placed. Applied on a mass scale, as was done in the construction of the Kosi project, the results of public participation in terms of savings of both time and money can be tremendous. Material gains to the nation from this source can be widespread and large. What has been achieved so far on this account is, however, of small proportions. There should, therefore, be an early appraisal of the activity in this field to remove hindrances in the way of a much more massive advance.

5. The transition from a state of economic and social stagnation and the initial period of advance are attended with social and political hazards, especially in the case of a country where political freedom is of recent occurrence. The new awakening brings to the fore pressing claims and expectations but the sense of duty and obligations lags behind. The development process also imposes a measure of sacrifice and forbearance. When the democratic structure and values have to be preserved, these strains and stresses become greatly accentuated. To counteract this and to create a social and political climate conducive to smoth progress must be the primary concern of a developing nation. In this field, social action has a pre-eminent role.

6. Uneven distribution of the fruits of progress, which is associated to an extent with the early stages of development in a democratic society, gives rise to a sense of deep resentment and frustration. This is greatly heightened by the spectacle of fortuitous incomes and gains from anti-social activities. Sharp conflicts, which stem from narrow sectional and regional interests, have arisen in India occasionally. It is not possible to provide full satisfaction for the rising expectations of various sections and regions at this stage. At the same time, there are forces at work which exploit all kinds of discontents and tensions, and pose a threat to the solidarity of the nation. While action has to be taken at political and administrative levels to curb these tendencies, the most effective means of combating this evil is for the community itself to strengthen its own defences and repel from within the attacks on the integrity of the nation. This protective strength can come chiefly from voluntary service and constructive activities organised by the people themselves. Explosive situations do not develop suddenly and when outbursts occur they are only symptoms of a malaise which has existed and grown over a period of time. Remedies applied at the moment can have only a limited efficacy. Wrong influences and destructive trends have to be neutralised constantly by positive forces that should be generated within the community all the time. This is, in the first instance, a task of widespread social enlightenment. Appeal^ made at the last moment are usually not heeded. It is through the quiet influence of voluntary workers, steadily engaged in acts of selfless service into which a large section of the community is drawn, that the voye of reason can prevail. Constructive work and comradeship in unselfish activity are a sure basis for progressive and healthy group life in a community which is exposed to a variety of disturbing impacts. In the circumstances of our country, these facts and considerations invest social action and public cooperation with a deep significance.


7. The distinctive feature of public cooperation programmes is the presence of the contribution of voluntary service on a considerable scale. This became available in the earlier years chiefly for construction of roads and school buildings, drinking water schemes and other local works to provide simple amenities for the people.

8. Over the past decade voluntary contributions in the community development programmes, in cash, kind and service, have been estimated at about Rs. 100 crores. The people's quota in local development works amounted nearly to Rs. 15 crores out of a total expenditure of Rs. 33 crores. Welfare programmes of the Central Social Welfare Board and those relating to the welfare of backward classes and emergency relief schemes were implemented largely through voluntary organisations. The intensive area scheme of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission bases itself to a considerable extent on people's own effort and local resources for creating additional employment opportunities through village industries. The midday meal and school improvement schemes in Madras are being executed with a large measure of support from the people. Bhoodan and gramdan movements, in which the Sarva Seva Sangh workers are actively engaged, are an outstanding demonstration of the potentialities which reside in voluntary action stimulated by high ideoalism and a missionary zeal. The University Planning Forums have succeeded in drawing a large number of teachers and students with various socio-economic programmes such as small savings, literacy, slum clearance and improvement and construction schemes involving voluntary work.

9. It was realised at the time of the formulation of the First Five Year Plan that for rapid progress public cooperation will have to be enlisted on a very large scale in every aspect of development. The Bharat Sevak Samaj was formed to provide a common platform with the object of drawing out the available unused time and energy of the people and directing them into various fields of social and economic activity. The Samaj has adopted a comprehensive programme and has branches all over the country. It has a large cadre of trained workers. Its association with the Kosi project during 1955-59 has brought forth evidence of the large possibilities of reducing cost, improving quality of performance and speeding up completion of various projects through public participation. Against the original estimates of Rs. 11.5 crores, the actual expenditure on the Kosi embankment scheme came down to Rs. 6.5 crores. The work was completed in 1958 against target date of 1960, i.e. 2 years in advance. The Samaj has taken part on a smaller scale in the construction of several other irrigation and flood protection projects. Encouraged by its experience it has set up a Construction Service with branches in several States. It has undertaken construction of a variety of public works. The organisation of works camps for students and youth of the country in connection with the Labour and Social Service Camps scheme of the Ministry of Education has become a major activity of the Samaj in which the contribution of the people is becoming available in an increasing measure. A specific approach has now been worked out in respect of activities in the rural areas. A group of villages is selected as the field of activity of two or three trained social workers whose task it is to develop, in an integrated manner, people's programmes on the basis of a plan for the area. The Lok Karya Kshetra aims at developing new resources for the area and creating local leadership. This programme receives assistance from the State and is now being shared by other voluntary organisations. To create social awakening and disseminate information about the problems of the country and the various Plan programmes, the Samaj has set up Jan Jagran (social enlightenment) centres. This is an assisted activity which is now becoming an integral part of the Lok Karya Kshetra programme. In the urban areas, the Samaj has given special attention to the problems of the slum-dwellers and has been running a number of night shelters for the homeless.

10. There are several other organisations which are functioning at the national level and have done valuable work in attending to the specific needs or sections of the community. Considerable progress has been made in the coordination of the activities of these bodies. The National Advisory Committee on Public Cooperation makes a periodical review of the progress in the field of public cooperation and lays down lines of guidance. Among the organisations who are members of this Committee are All India Co-operative Union, All India Women's Conference, Bharat Sadhu Samaj, Bharat Scouts and Guides, Bharat Sevak Samaj, Bharatiya Adim Jati Sangh, Bharatiya Grameen Mahila Sangh, Central Social Welfare Board, Gandhi Samarak Nidhi, Harijan Sevak Sangh, Indian Conference of Social Work, Indian Council for Child Welfare, Indian Red Cross Society, National Cadet Corps and Auxiliary Cadet Corps and Sarva Seva Sangh.


11. Welfare.—With so much poverty and ignorance in the country, there is no limit to the scope of voluntary service in mitigating the hardships of the under privileged and in creating a better environment for them. In view of the present limitations of personnel and resources some consideration of priorities becomes inevitable. A great deal still remains to be done to promote healthy habits and clean surroundings in rural as well as urban areas. Concerted voluntary action can produce gratifying results in this sphere without much cost. Services can be rendered to patients in hospitals and to the ailing persons who cannot be looked after in their homes. The spread of literacy can be greatly accelerated through voluntary help. To bring about social reforms and to rid the community of social evils and anti-social activities, the sanctions of law can have only a minor role, and the brunt of the challenge must be borne by voluntary organisations.

12. Socio-economic Programmes.—The emphasis of voluntary service is now shifting from welfare, in the restricted sense, to the realisation of broader socio-economic aims. Voluntary organisations can play a very useful part in creating the climate and conditions favourable to smoth and effective functioning of panchayats and cooperatives. In rural areas, the two outstanding tasks are to assist in the fuller utilisation of the material and manpower resources so that both production and the opportunities for gainful employment may increase continuously. For this purpose, voluntary workers have to give to the community development organisations all the assistance they can.* In towns and cities voluntary service should be directed chiefly towards improving the slums and creating better living conditions for those who must live there. Organised self-help must be the basis of this and the other activities undertaken by voluntary agencies. The cooperative movement in its many phases is a field parexcellence which can absorb services of a large number of social workers. The building up of a network of service cooperatives iri rural areas and cooperative consumer stores in urban areas Is an urgent national, need which should receive immediate attention.

13. Construction.—Construction activity in the bigger projects as well as smaller and local works will remain the largest avenue for voluntary effort towards the utilisation of idle manpower. In villages, voluntary agencies will be encouraged and helped to take up construction work directly or through labour cooperatives. This will lead to reduction of cost, observance of satisfactory standards of work, a better deal for the construction workers and the promotion of honest dealings in the working of the construction industry. Excessive dependence on contractors will be avoided and additional resources will become available for the programmes of the voluntary organisations. A Committee set up in the Planning Commission has made the following recommendations to enable the voluntary organisations like the Bharat Sevak Samaj to undertake construction work on a large scale :

  1. It should be the effort of the official agencies to give maximum assistance to voluntary organisations. As far as possible, a certain proportion of the available work should be set apart for them and extended as their capacity develops.
  2. Continuous flow of work should be ensured. The project authorities should indicate well in time the magnitude, types and specific works that can be awarded to such organisations. They should be given preference over the private contractors and, where possible, given works on a negotiated basis.
  3. Works may be awarded at workable rates on (i) 'work-order' basis; and (ii) the basis of schedule of rates increased or decreased by a percentage decided by a competent authority. The schedule of rates should be kept uptodate.
  4. Delay should be avoided and prompt payment ensured. Powers may be delegated to the Superintending and executive Engineers and 'on account' payments may be authorised for works completed.
  5. Technical personnel may be deputed by the State Governments and the Central Ministeries to assist the voluntary organisations.
  6. Loan assistance should be given for working capital and purchase of equipment.
  7. Subject to proper assessment of their capacity, the voluntary organisations may be considered for all kinds of earth-work and simple masonry works. They may be given major structures if and when they are adequately equipped with technical manpower and necessary mechanical equipment. They may also be encouraged in undertaking contracts for supply of building material in bulk quantity.

*Among the fields of activities for voluntary organisations suggested in a Conference, recetrly convened by the Ministry of Community Development, are social education, agriculture production programmes, village industries, sanitation and hygiene, local development works, welfare of weaker sections of the community, women and child welfare and youth programmes.

14. Better understanding of our Plans.— For enlisting widespread participation and voluntary effort in the reconstruction of social and economic life, understanding and appreciation of the significance, objectives and priorities of the Third Plan will be of considerable help. This is by no means an easy task in view of the growing complexity of the economy and of the many problems to be faced. On the other hand, as a result of the first two Plans and the awakening to which they have led, there is much greater ability to grasp the nature of the problems, the limitations within which solutions have to be found and the need to bear larger burdens for achieving rapid economic development. In the last resort, the Plan becomes meaningful in terms of the tasks it sets and the opportunities it provides to individuals, local communities and different sections of the population. As part of the programme for strengthening public cooperation and participation during the Third Plan, it is proposed to intensify the existing arrangements for bringing home the implications; of rapid development and carrying the message of the Plan to the masses throughout the country.

15. Wider aims.—There are certain higher tasks which are related to the basic needs, ideals and goals of the nation. In the present circumstances they create special obligations for the people. The foremost need now is that the attitudes of the people and the pattern of conduct, which prevail in the community should be in harmony with the national purposes. There are three constituents of this pattern which may be regarded as the most essential in this context. In the first place, love of the nation and faith in its great destiny should become the dominant feeling in every heart. By common consent, whatever tends to impair the integrity and unity of the country, should be held up to public censure. There should be a growing understanding of what kind of behaviour will hurt the cause of national unity and with what consequences. Dedicated workers can in a hundred ways help to project the image of a strong and united nation in the consciousness of every citizen. They can create the realisation how important and indispensable the united endeavour of the people is for every thing of value which the individuals and groups in the country can seek and aspire after. Voluntary organisations with links in different parts of the country can help to create a sense of oneness and a common outlook by engaging the peoplfc in simple activities of service to the community which are performed all over the country as a great national programme. Secondly, it is envisaged that progressive socialisation and cooperative growth should be the basis of the social and economic order that is being created in this country. Thirdly, it should be remembered that it is only on the basis of right living that a strong nation and a just social order can be built. Every one will have to work for the good life which all can share. A society in which many must suffer so that a few may prosper is to be disfavoured. To bring this about basic changes are needed in the habits and outlook of the people which may reflect a keen appreciation of social justice and our common humanity. Certain norms of behaviour, with accent on restraint, discipline and consideration for others, have to be cultivated and woven into the fabric of national character. Stress should be laid on the observance of 'Sadachar' (moral and social standards) in political and social relations and in all our business and economic activities. When social change of a large order has to be achieved in a relatively short period, the people's part in respect of scale and intensity of effort has to be such as to impart to it the character of a mass movement. Here is a limitless horizon and the widest scope for voluntary service through people's organisations. It should be realised that what is confronting us now is the call of a revolution to which people's mind must get attuned. The idealism and patriotic devotion of the people will find their highest expression in the service of this revolution.


16. Since so much is expected of public cooperation and participation through voluntary organisations, it is important that they should grow in strength and dimensions so as to be capable of discharging their self-imposed obligations adequately. This will depend very much on the extent to which they inspire confidence by the proper and efficient execution of the programmes they undertake and the contribution they make to the satisfaction of the felt needs of the people. The spare time and other resources placed at their disposal must be put to the most effective use. This points to the need for advance planning, a proper assessment of requirements, training of personnel, systematic execution and adequate supervision and evaluation.

17. Voluntary organisations should establish a relationship of intimate collaboration with local bodies and for certain purposes act as agencies of the panchayats, municipalities, etc. The programmes which call for cooperation of the people may be framed jointly and the role and place of voluntary organisations should be clearly specified. Official agencies should provide them with assistance and facilities to the maximum extent but their direction and control must be scrupulously left to the leadership of voluntary organisations. In this way alone, these organisations can acquire a national character and make an appeal to citizens irrespective of their political affiliations. In response to local needs small units of voluntary workers are formed in many places. They should be encouraged and helped by the larger bodies to enable them to make a more effective contribution. This assistance may take the form of training of the workers, guidance and provision of various facilities.

18. Spontaneous development of activities on a voluntary basis is welcome but there is a danger of duplication and frittering away of valuable energy and resources. Voluntary organisations should, therefore, develop a common approach, work in close collaboration and specialise in certain fields for which they are best equipped. A measure of coordination has already been achieved. This may usefully be extended to cover a variety of activities including training, research, pilot projects, pooling of information and experience, publication of journals and guiding material and dealing with official agencies.

19. Voluntary activities have so far drawn their sustenance from individuals and such assistance as the State has been able to furnish. A strong base for voluntary service can be created if it can derive support from a large number of institutions and establishments in the field of education, entertainment, business, journalism, etc. They can help in raising funds through collection drives and charity shows. They may also accept responsibility for some specific jobs. They can render much useful service by permitting the use of their accommodation, equipment and other facilities, outside working hours for programmes and activities of voluntary organisations. ;

20. The personnel for voluntary organisations has to be drawn from all walks of life specially from amongst social workers, teachers, members of various professions, members of Legislatures and local bodies and public servants. Persons retired from active service, either in civil occupations or the army, have given a good account of themselves in this field, and can be drawn into these activities in much larger numbers. The mainstay of this movement will have to be the youth of the country who can be enlisted and trained for activities aiming at their own welfare and the common good.

21. After a period of trial and experimentation, the concept of Lok Karya has been evolved to impart to non-official voluntary action the required degree of planning and continuity. The Lok Karya Kshetra, which corresponds to the area of an N.E.S. Block, would offer a common platform for voluntary bodies and bring about an integration of their various activities at the field level. The study of Lok Karya Kshetras undertaken by the Programme Evaluation Organisation has shown that workers in this programme are able in a special measure to bring intimate knowledge of the people and their problems to the task of mobilising local resources and manpower and overcoming such barriers to development as ignorance, factions and inadequate facilities for extension work in the villages. The approach is now being extended to urban areas also.

22. University Planning Forums are expected to play an increasing role during the Third Plan in bringing universities and colleges into closer contact with the larger community and in enabling teachers and students to contribute towards national development in constructive programmes undertaken in collaboration with panchayati raj institutions, municipal bodies and voluntary organisations. Studies and surveys undertaken during the Second Plan by teams constituted by planning forums have afforded useful opportunities to students and youth to gain insight into social and economic problems and valuable suggestions have been thrown up at seminars organised by planning forums from time to time. These and other activities will be further developed during the Third Plan. It is also hoped that planning forums may be able to organise Plan information centres which will help students to identify themselves more and more with the goals for which the nation will strive during the Third and subsequent Plans.


23. The tasks before the workers engaged in activities relating to public participation are by no means simple or easy. Their primary concern is to change the outlook of the people, win their confidence and stimulate them into new endeavour. They are faced with considerable inertia and conflicting social forces at work. Complex social conditions and problems are encountered. To be able to do their part reasonably well, these workers must receive intensive training of a special kind. This aspect had been largely neglected till recently, when for the workers of the Lok Karya Kshetra programme, training facilities were provided on a regular basis. Training of part-time and whole-time workers from the village upward should be undertaken on systematic lines, so that they may be enabled to carry out their duties with an amount of skiti and understanding. To create a sound basis for training programmes and to develop suitable methods and techniques of public participation, the current experience should be subjected at intervals, to close study and analysis. Group discussions should also be organised for this purpose. There is a large scope for research into dynamics of social change, the attitudes of various groups towards problems and programmes placed before them, and the effectiveness of techniques employed for securing cooperation and participation of the people. Pilot projects to test new ideas should be taken up in different parts of the country. Facilities should be provided for evaluation of the activities of the voluntary organisations. The results of these studies and experiments should be embodied in suitable literature and guidance material.

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