|2nd Five Year Plan||
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In India the district has always been the pivot of the structure of administration. With the acceptance of a Welfare State as the objective the emphasis in district administration has come to be placed overwhelmingly on development activities. The progress cf the national extension and community development, increase in the number of village panchayats and the response of the people to opportunities for cooperation in development programmes have served to stress the importance of planning and execution of development programmes within the district with the full "support and participation of the best non-official leadership at all levels.
2. In the First Five Year Plan problems relating to the administration of district programmes were reviewed and a number of recommendations made. The object of this chapter is to consider action that has been taken during the past three or four years and to" suggest directions in which the administration of district programmes may be further strengthened in view of the tasks to be undertaken in the second five year plan. As was pointed out in the First Five Year Plan, apart from finding personnel and the need to adapt the administrative system to the temper of democratic government, the reorganisation of district administration has to provide for
These tasks are of even greater importance for the second five year plan.
3. The strengthening and improvement of the machinery of general administration has to be undertaken at State headquarters as well as at other levels. At State headquarters coordination is achieved through an inter-departmental committee of Secretaries in charge of various development departments. The chairman of the committee is the Chief Secretary or the Secretary in charge of planning. Generally, the functions of coordination for planning and for the implementaion of district programmes are combined in a single officer commonly described as the Development Commissioner. As a rule, a committee of the State Cabinet under the Chief Minister provides overall guidance and direction. State Planning Boards which include leading non-officials have also been constituted in most of the States.
4. At the beginning of the first five year plan several States, especially those which had been recently integrated, were without adequate administrative cadres. This deficiency has been largely made good, but several small States are experiencing difficulty in obtaining officers on deputation from other States. States which had abolished zamindari or jagirdari such as Bihar, Rajasthan and Hyderabad are taking steps to provide the necessary administrative agencies at various levels.
5. Steps which have been taken during the past few years such as the programme of national extension and community projects, integration of district development activities on the national extension pattern, and the development of village panchayats, point to the need for speeding up the development of democratic institutions within the district Tn this respect, a certain hiatus has continued to exist which it is necessary to remove. It is important that sound institutions should be built up as early as may be possible to enable the people of each area to assume the principal responsibility for the development of their resources and for solving their local problems as part of the wider scheme of state and national planning.
6. The implementation of the plan and of national extension and community projects have enhanced the responsibilities of the district administration. The additional personnel located in the district by the development departments for carrying out national extension and community projects and other programmes have been a sourca of strength to the district administration. On the other hand, the task of supervision over different branches of activity has become larger and more complex and the claims upon the time and energy of the Collector have increased. Large-scale programmes for agricultural development, expanding and improving the cooperative movement and promoting village and small industries and the development of urban areas are new responsibilities for which the Collector will have specially to equip himself. It is obvious that administrative agencies have a much larger part to play in these directions than ever before. The people also look to a larger share in the working of various programmes. In many States, to enable the Collector and the team of officers at the district level to meet the new demands, additional Collectors and District Development or Planning Officers have been appointed and there has been greater delegation of authority. The Collector, the Sub-Divisional Officer and the Block Development Officer are functioning as leaders of teams of specialists whose work they guide and knit together. In several States more sub-divisions have been created, and phased programmes for establishing new sub-divisions are being followed. Action along these lines should be pursued .systematically in all States as it has been decided to extend the national extension service programme over the entire country in the next five years.
Village Planning And Village Panchayats
7. The preparation of the first five year plan in the States took place mainly at State headquarters. Subsequently, attempts were made to break up State plans into district plans. In national extension and community project areas, as programmes were carried to the village to be worked in cooperation with the people, the significance of village planning was increasingly realised. In the programme of local development works local communities had to propose schemes which they could undertake through their own labour with support from the Government It has been recognised that unless there is comprehensive village planning which takes into account the needs of the entire community, weaker sections like tenant-cultivators, landless workers and artisans may not benefit sufficiently from assistance provided by the Government The national extension movement aims at reaching every family in the village. This aim cannot be fullfilled unless, as was pointed out in the First Five Year Plan, there is an agency in the village which represents the community as a whole and can assume responsibility and initiative for developing the resources of the village and providing the necessary leadership. Indeed, rural progress depends entirely on the existence of an active organisation in the village which can bring all the peopleincluding the weaker sections mentioned aboveinto common programmes to be carried out with the assistance of the administration.
8. These considerations have been taken into account in the preparation of the second five year plan. Early in 1954 State Governments were requested to arrange for the preparation of plans for the second five-year period for individual villages and groups of villages such as tehsils, talukas, development blocks, etc. It was essential that local initiative in formulating plans and local effort and resources in carrying them out should be stimulated to the maximum extent possible. This would help to relate the plans to local needs and conditions and also to secure public participation and voluntary effort and contribution. Village planning was to be concerned primarily with agricultural production and other associated activities, including cooperation, village industries, communications and other local works programmes. These suggestions were generally followed and in all States village plans and district plans were prepared and formed a basis of the draft plans presented by State Governments.
9. The methods adopted for preparing the second five year plan have provided valuable training both to the rural people and to rural officials associated with development. It is realised that the pattern of district administration envisaged in the national extension and community development programme will remain incomplete unless village institutions are placed on a sound footing and are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility for carrying out local programmes. The experience of setting up ad hoc bodies in villages to implement development programmes has also reinforced this conclusion. The development of village panchayats on the right lines has significance for several reasons. Under the impact of new developments, including the growth of population, land reform, urbanisation, spread of education, increase in production and improvements in communications, village society is in a state of rapid transition. In emphasising the interest of the community as a whole and in particular the needs of those sections which are at present handicapped in various ways, village panchayals along with cooperatives, can play a considerable part in bringing about a more just and integrated social structure in rural areas and in developing a new pattern of rural leadership.
10. It is the general aim to establish a statutory pan-chayat in every village, especially in areas selected for national extension and community development projects. During the first five year plan the number of village panchayats has increased from 83,087 to 117,593. According to the tentative programmes drawn up for the second five year plan, by 1960-61 the number of village panchayats will increase to 244,564. All over India there is need to review village boundaries so that there might be evolved good, efficient working village units with live panchyats. Thus, there are over 380,020 villages in India with populations of 500 and below. More than 78 million people or 27 per cent of the rural population live in such villages. There are 104,268 villages with a population between 500 and 1000. About 73 million people live in these villages, constituting over 25 per cent of th'e rural population. More than half the rural population thus lives in villages with populations below 1000. A proportion of such villages is in hilly areas which are sparsely populated, and in these grouping may be difficult In other areas question of combining existing villages into units with a population of about 1000 deserves to be examined. It is necessary to have villages which are small enough to have a sense of solidarity and yet not so small that personnel cannot be provided or the essential services, organised for their benefit. The second conference of local Self-Government Ministers held in 1954 recommended that where individual villages are not large enough to serve as units for panchayats, a single panchayat may serve a population of 1000 to 1500. This is useful up to a point, but the real problem concerns the organisation of convenient village units.
11. In the First Five Year Plan it was recommended that to enable panchayats to play their part in organising village development programmes, legislation should confer on them certain functions relating to. village production programmes and the development of village lands and resources. Recently this proposal has been further examined. The functions of village panchayats may be distinguished broadly between two groups, administrative and judicial. Administrative functions may be divided conveniently between (1) civic, (2) development, (3) land management and (4) land reforms. The civic functions of panchayats are embodied in legislation in different States in more or less similar terms. They include such tasks as village sanitation, registration of births, deaths, etc., organisation of village watch and ward, construction, maintenance and lighting of village streets, etc.
12. The functions of village panchayats in relation to development may be set out as follows:
13. The functions of panchayats in respect of management of village lands and the implementation of land reforms are specially related to the lines along which it is proposed that the agrarian structure should be reorganised and are explained in chapter IX. The main land management functions are:
The functions of. panchayats in relation to land reforms arise from legislation which may be enacted by each State. In the main, they entail the association of the village panchayat with such activities as
Village panchayats are already associated in several States in the work of consolidation of holdings.
14. The judicial functions of panchayats concern
The common pattern in States for facilitating the exercise of these functions is to establish separate judicial panchayats whose territorial jurisdiction extends as a .rule to a number of villages.
15. It was recognised in the First Five Year Plan that the process of election by which panchayats are constituted might not always throw up a sufficient number of persons with qualities most needed in village reconstruction such as good farmers, cooperative workers and social workers. Similarly, instances might occur in which weaker sections of the population, especially the landless, might not be adequately represented in the panchayat. Nomination of additional members, which was suggested as a possible course in the First Five Year Plan, is not free from defects. To meet deficiencies, it may be desirable to empower village panchayats to co-opt a limited number of persons, say, two or three, in the case of smaller panchayats and up to, say, one-fifth in the case of the larger panchayats. A representative of the principal cooperative society of the village could also be an ex-officio member of the village panchayat. In the panchayat legislation of a number of States provision exists for a measure of reservation in favour of Hari-jans and backward classes. In the actual administrations of panchayat legislation it is necessary to pay special attention to the representation through election of weaker sections of the village community.
16. Once it begins to function actively, an institution like the village panchayat will soon face the difficult problem of finance. Panchayat legislation in most States provides for series of sources of revenue such as tax on trade or profession, property tax, licence fees, fines and watch, and ward tax. In most cases, however, these do not yield any significant resources. In the main, panchayats have to rely on three sources given to them by State Governments. The first of these is the grant of a proportion of the land revenue. The second, of which there are not many instances yet, is the right given to the panchayat to collect land revenue and to realise the collection fees allowed to village headmen. The third source is the right to utilise income from common lands, tanks, etc. In the Punjab and in one or two other States, in the course of consolidation of holdings, by agreement a certain amount of land is given to the village community, so that the income can be used for common benefit Grants to panchayats of a proportion of the land revenue are made in several States. They vary from 10 to 15 per cent at one end to about 30 per cent. at the other. It is desirable that a proportion of the iand revenue in each village should be assigned to the panchayat for local development. This will serve as a nucleus fund to be augmented by the panchayat from contributions in labour and money from members of the community. We suggest that State Governments may consider making grants to village panchayats in two parts, a basic proportion, say, 15 to 20 per cent. of the land revenue, with an additional grant extending up to, say, 15 per cent of the land revenue on condition that the panchayat raises an equal additional amount by taxation or voluntary contributions. Panchayats should also be assisted in developing sources of recurring income.
17. In programmes sponsored by State Governments and district authorities, the panchayat has to find a proportion of the cost through labour and through contributions in other forms. Its own direct expenditure concerns the provision of elementary services in the village and the maintenance of minimum staff. The responsibilities entrusted to panchayats will continue to grow. In some cases full-time panchayat secretaries have been appointed: in others part-time arrangements have been made. It is not necessary to prescribe any set pattern, but different ways of providing staff assistance to village panchayats which are being adopted in the States should be studied and, according to circumstances, those which are found suitable can be adopted. The staff for the Panchayats should be suitably trained.
18. As the coverage of the national extension movement expands, the work of village panchayats should be closely integrated with the programmes adopted in development blocks. Panchayats will have two sets of programmes, namely, those which are sponsored by the Government through extension workers and by District Boards through their agencies, and those which are undertaken by the village community of its own volition and from its own resources in manpower, materials and money. Towards the former the village has to find a share of the cost mainly in the form of labour. While both sets of programmes are vital and the village panchayat should be used wherever possible in carrying out development programmes, an important test of the success of the Panchayat as an institution is the proportion which the second set of programmes bears to the first. The true significance of the panchayat lies in its role in mobilising the contribution of the community. It is also desirable that where village panchayats undertake activities such as minor irrigation works, land development, soil conservation, etc., they should be given the assistance which is commonly made available to individuals under various schemes. In fact local communities shouid be encouraged to undertake joint activities to the maximum extent possible.
19. When planning is undertaken on a national scale a careful view has to be taken as to which programmes should form part respectively of the national, state and district plans. Among the factors which have to be taken into account are
On these considerations the Central Government has to undertake the main responsibility for the development of major industries, the railway network, national highways and over-all co-ordination in various fields of development such as irrigation and power, large and small industries, etc. There are other projects which are best planned on a State basis, as for example, irrigation and power schemes of medium size, road transport services and surveys for drawing up minor irrigation programme. Plans for districts and villages merge into the State plan which, in turn, has to take cognizance, of plans prepared from the point of view of a country as a whole.
20. In drawing up the second five year plan it was agreed that a State plan should include to the maximum extent possible all programmes to be implemented by the State Government or by public authoriftes such as local bodies or by special boards set up within the State. The fact that for any particular programme either the whole or a part of the resources came tram the Central Government or from various agencies set up by it did not, in principle, affect the inclusion of a programme within the State plan. This course was adopted because in the second five year plan one of the most important aspects was the preparation of plans at various levels below that of the State, that is, for individual villages, towns, talukas, tahsils or extension blocks and districts. It was recognised that both -at the district and at the State level three kinds of programmes sponsored on behalf of public authorities would be included in the plan, namely,
21. A State plan has to be presented in two different ways, namely, according to different sectors of development represented in it and according to regions and districts. Programmes for different sectors include those which are to be executed directly by departments at State level and others which are to be executed through districts but are co-ordinated at the State level. Thus, a district plan would include programmes prepared on a territorial basis for villages, groups of villages, talukas, extension blocks, municipal areas, etc. and also programmes to be executed within the district which are derived from departmental plans formulated at ,the State level. That part of the district plan which is prepared within the district is important both for the range of activities which it embodies and for the fact of association with the people at every level and the opportunity afforded to them to determine their needs and to contribute towards their fulfilment.
22. Just as in drawing up State plans the preparation of district plans is an important stage, so also in the implementation of the State plan its break up into district plans is an essential step. In particular, in different sectors in the State plan programmes or schemes in which local participation and community action have a special contribution to make are to be separated out and shown as constituents in the plans of districts. Those items of work become pail of the district plan in which, in the main, the resources provided by Government are in the nature of a nucleus to be augmented through popular support and participation. The value of district plans as a method of approach in planning is enhanced by the ambitious scale on which national extension and community projects are proposed to be undertaken. By the end of the second five year plan this programme will serve almost the entire rural population. Each State will have its phased programme for bringing different blocks, talukas, etc. under the national extension and community development programme. A district plan will include programmes for all parts of a district, whether or not, at a given date, they are provided with extension services. The district plan has, therefore, to take into account the requirements and activities of areas under the extension programme as well as of those outside it. This makes the district plan and important influence in educating public opinion, in bringing together various programmes in the district within a common frame and in developing comw'unity participation, cooperative self-help and local initiative and leadership. The people of each district arc thus enabled to assess their needs and resourcesJ'udge for themselves the tasks to be undertaken with the active support of the administration, and put forth the requisite effort. Moreover, as a partnership in effort between the administration and the people a district plan will specify obligations to be met by both.
23. The main constituents of a district plan are:
24. These programmes are undertaken through several official and non-official agencies, and in a number of them there has to be co-ordination between more than one agency. Thus, in addition to administrative officials and the officials of the various development departments, each district will generally have a rural local board, a large number of village panchayats, and a number of municipal bodies in rural areas. The importance of towns as focal points in economic growth is likely to increase, and urban and rural areas have to be viewed together in terms of planned regional development. In areas selected for intensive work under the national extension and community development programme, there are project or block advisory committees which include, besides Members of Parliament and the State Legislature, a number of non-officials appointed by the State Government The existence of a larger number of agencies whose work has to be co-ordinated through a district plan suggests certain possibilities of reorganisation of development machinery in the districts.
District Development Machinery
25. During the first five year plan, as has been stated earlier, the national extension machinery has become part of the normal district administration. In almost all States district development or planning committees have been set up which associate representatives of the district in the State legislature and in Parliament, representatives of the district board and the principal municipal bodies and leading non-official workers with the formulation and implementation of development programmes in the district. The functions of these committees are essentially advisory or consultative. On the whole, they have not secured the degree of participation and cooperation from the public which is implicit in the concept of district planning. The association through these committees of the district board and of other local bodies with the work of development does not go far enough. In the First Five Year Plan the role of local bodies in development programmes was reviewed and it was suggested that the general direction of policy should be to encourage them and to assist them in assuming responsibility for as large a portion of administration and social services within their areas as may be possible. It was pointed out that it might be necessary to work out suitable arrangements for linking local self-governing bodies in different fields with one another, for instance, village panchayats with district or sub-divisional local boards. While the process developed, it was suggested that State Governments should secure the close co-operation of local self-governing bodies in the field of development in such directions as the following:
26. In practice these recommendations have not been carried out to any great extent In a number of States, as in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, thought has been given recently to the future structure and functions of district boards with reference to the functions of village pan-chayats and to those of various administrative agencies functioning in the district. The Taxation Enquiry Commission expressed the view that district local boards could no longer continue in their existing form and that their position in the structure of local self-government had.become increasingly unstable. The need for creating a well-organised democratic structure of administration within the district is now being widely felt. In this "tructure village panchayats will have to be organically linked with popular organisations at a higher level. In some States it may be convenient to have a democratic body at the district level, in others at the level of sub-divisions. In either case there are two essential conditions to be aimed at In the first place, the functions of the popular body should come to include, if necessary by stages determined in advance, the entire general administta-tion and development of the area other than such functions as law and order, administration of and certain functions pertaining to revenue administration. The second condition is that for smaller areas within the district or the sub-division such as development blocks or talukas, sub-committees of the popular body should be assigned clear functions in the implementation of local programmes. The subject requires careful and objective study in the light of conditions prevailing in different parts of the country and experience during the first five year plan. We therefore recommend a special investigation under the auspices of the National Development Council. While this investigation proceeds and the results of experiments made in various States are studied more closely from the point of view indicated above, there is need for strengthening and reorganising the non-official agencies which have been created in almost all States for assisting in the implementation of development programmes, specially at the district level and in national extension and community project areas.
27. At the district level, the primary object is to coordinate the work of various agencies concerned with development and to associate with them representatives non-official and others who may be in a special position to assist. At the development block or taluka level the main aim is to secure the largest measure of participation, especially from cooperative organisations, village panchayals and voluntary agencies. A review of the manner in which district development committees and project advisory committees have functioned suggests that as an immediate step in reorganisation it will be useful for State Government to set up district development councils and development committees for are.as such as development blocks or talukas.
A district development council might include
28. The functions of a district development council way bs described as
The functions of development committees constituted for development blocks or talukas will be similar to those of district development councils. Their membership might comprise:
29. Although the functions of district development councils and block or taluka development Committees will be advisory, they should be given a considerable amount of initiative in suggesting the details of various programmes and the distribution of resources within the general scheme approved for the district by the State Government. Their work should be suitably planned, they should be consulted before programmes are finalised and their reviews of work done in the field should take place at regular intervals. Their special responsibility will be to ensure that the maximum amount of public cooperation and participation are secured, that the various programmes operate so as to be complementary to one another, and that disadvan-taged sections of the community benefit adequately.Development councils for districts and development committees for blocks or talukas constituted broadly on the lines mentioned above will take the place of exiting development committees and project advisory committees. It is envisaged that in the beginning these bodies may be non-statutory. Their effective functioning will mark an important stage in the reorganisation of district administration and the experience gained will indicate the lines along-which the structure of district administration may be modified and strengthened to meet the basic needs of democratic development. Moreover, progress along these lines will emphasise two specially valuable features of district and area planning. Local programmes represent an area of common action significant for the welfare of the mass of the people in which differences in view and affiliation are of relatively small consequence. Secondly, working with one another and with the people and their representatives will go a long way to bring the outlook and attitudes of local officials in line with the requirements of the socialist pattern of society and to break down barriers between different grades which are themselves and impediment to success in the common effort. Institutions and practices such as seminars, sharing of experience and for consultation in formulating and reviewing programmes of work have already proved useful in this direction.
Coordination And Supervision
30. Coordination and supervision of development programmes have to be organised at various levelsin the taluka or the development block, in the district or the sub-division, for a group of districts constituting a region and at the State level. At each stage two problems arise. The first is that the work of different techincal departments has to be knit together so as to make a single, coordinated programme. The second problem concerns guidance and inspection, and evaluation and reporting. The need for coordination arises, on the one hand, in relation to policy and allocation of resources and, on the other, in terms of the requirements of a common extension agency. The strength of a coordinated programme of development lies in the quality of the specialised services which are brought together. Coordination should therefore be so organised as to bring out the best in the specialist. This involves a clear appreciation of the responsibilities of technical departments at each level in the scheme of operations, and a proper recognition of their contribution to the common programme. As pointed out earlier, at the State level coordination of programmes is undertaken by the Development Commissioner under the direction of a Cabinet committee on development. In the district or the sub-division these responsibilities devolve on the Collector and the sub-divisional officer. Development programmes in the second five year plan are much larger in scope than those in the first five year plan. It is not now possible for the Development Commissioner, with the other responsibilities he bears at the State level, to tour sufficiently and keep in close touch with the working of the State plan in the districts. This difficulty will be specially felt in the larger States. In the circumstances of the second five year plan the need for setting up machinery for effective regional coordination and for supervision of district work cannot therefore'be too greatly stressed.
31. District administration is an agency of change towards a new social order. It has to respond to the needs and aspirations of the people. It will be judged both by the practical results it produces and by the methods and institutions of popular association and cooperation which it integrates into its basic structure.
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