9th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)
[ Vol1-Index ] - [ Vol2-Index ]
<< Back to Index

Poverty Alleviation Programme
Poverty Alleviation in Rural India: Programmes and Strategy || Urban Poverty Alleviation || Public Distribution System

2.1 Poverty Alleviation in Rural India : Programmes and Strategy

2.1.1 Poverty eradication is one of the major objectives of planned development. The magnitude of the problem is still quite staggering. Thirty six per cent of the Indian population was below poverty line (BPL) in 1993-94, the latest year for which the data are available and the absolute number of poor was 320 million, out of which 244 million (37 per cent of the rural population) lived in rural areas. The incidence of poverty declined from 54.9 per cent in 1973-74 to 36 per cent in 1993-94. But the absolute number of poor did not decline much over this period of 20 years. There were 321 million poor in 1973-74 and 320 million in 1993-94; in the rural areas the corresponding numbers were 261 million and 244 million.

2.1.2 The main determinants of poverty are (i) lack of income and purchasing power attributable to lack of productive employment and considerable underemployment and not to lack of employment per se; (ii) a continuous increase in the price of food, especially foodgrains which account for 70-80 per cent of the consumption basket; and (iii) inadequacy of social infrastructure, affecting the quality of life of the people and their employability.

2.1.3 Economic growth is important. Economic growth creates more resources and has the potential of creating more space for the involvement of the poor. But the involvement of the poor depends on the sources of growth and the nature of growth. If the growth is sourced upon those sectors of the economy or those activities which have a natural tendency to involve the poor in their expansion, such growth helps poverty eradication. Therefore, it is important to source a large part of economic growth in agriculture, in rural non-agricultural activities and in productive expansion of the informal sector which all have high employment elasticities, as well as in an export strategy based on labour intensive exports.

2.1.4 The Government recognises that high growth of incomes is by itself not enough to improve the quality of life of the poor. Unless all the citizens of the country, and most particularly the poor, have certain basic minimum services, their living conditions cannot improve. These minimum services include among other things literacy education, primary health care, safe drinking water and nutritional security. The Government had convened a meeting of Chief Ministers to identify such basic minimum services and a list of seven services had unanimously been agreed upon. These seven services are safe drinking water, primary health facilities, universal primary education, nutrition to school and pre- school children, shelter for the poor, road connectivity for all villages and habitations, and the Public Distribution System (PDS) with a focus on the poor. The Ninth Plan lays special emphasis on these seven basic minimum services and will make all efforts to achieve a minimum level of satisfaction in providing these in partnership with the State Governments and the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs).

2.1.5 Direct poverty alleviation programmes are important and will continue on an expanded scale in the Ninth Plan. But these programmes would be oriented towards strengthening the productive potential of the economy and providing more opportunities for involving the poor in the economic process. Broadly, there would be schemes for income generation through supplementary employment, for the welfare of the poor in rural/urban areas and for a targeted PDS system to ensure that the poor have access to foodgrains at prices they can afford. In this chapter, both rural and urban poverty alleviation programmes besides the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) will be discussed in some detail.

2.1.6 Poverty can effectively be eradicated only when the poor start contributing to the growth by their active involvement in the growth process. Implementation of the programmes should be increasingly based on approaches and methods which involve the poor themselves in the process of poverty eradication and economic growth. This is possible through a process of social mobilisation, encouraging participatory approaches and institutions and empowerment of the poor. In this the PRIs, the voluntary organisations and community based Self-Help Groups will be more closely involved.

Rural Poverty Alleviation

Self-Employment Programmes

Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and Allied Programmes

2.1.7 The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) aims at providing self-employment to the rural poor through acquisition of productive assets or appropriate skills which would generate additional income on a sustained basis to enable them to cross the poverty line. Assistance is provided in the form of subsidy and bank credit. The target group consists largely of small and marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and rural artisans living below the poverty line. The pattern of subsidy is 25 per cent for small farmers, 33-1/3 per cent for marginal farmers, agricultural labourers and rural artisans and 50 per cent for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes families and physically handicapped persons. The ceiling for subsidy is Rs.6000/- for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes families and the physically handicapped; for others, it is Rs.4000/- in non-DPAP/non-DDP areas and Rs.5000/- in DPAP and DDP areas. Within the target group, there is an assured coverage of 50 per cent for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, 40 per cent for women and 3 per cent for the physically handicapped. Priority in assistance is also given to the families belonging to the assignees of ceiling surplus land, Green Card Holders covered under the Family Welfare Programme and freed bonded labourers.

2.1.8 IRDP is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme which is in operation in all the blocks of the country since 1980. Under this scheme Central funds are allocated to States on the basis of proportion of rural poor in a State to the total rural poor in the country.

2.1.9 Since the inception of the programme till 1996-97, 50.99 million families have been covered under IRDP at an expenditure of Rs.11434.27 crore. The total investment during this period has been Rs.28047.65 crore which includes a subsidy component of Rs.9669.97 crore and a credit disbursement of Rs.18377.68 crore. Of the total families assisted under this programme 44.75 per cent were Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and 27.07 per cent women.

2.1.10 During the Eighth Five Year Plan the total allocation (Centre and State) under IRDP was Rs.5048.29 crore and the total investment amounted to Rs.11541.06 crore. In quantitative numbers, 10.82 million families were covered under IRDP against the initial target of 12.6 million families fixed for the entire Eighth Plan period. However, from 1995-96 physical targeting under the programme was abolished with the focus shifting to financial targets and qualitative parameters. Of the families covered 50.06 per cent were Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and 33.59 per cent women. The coverage of women was still lower than the target of 40 per cent.

2.1.11 The IRDP has been successful in providing incremental income to the poor families, but in most cases the incremental income has not been adequate to enable the beneficiaries to cross the poverty line on a sustained basis mainly because of a low per family investment. The results of the last Concurrent Evaluation (September 1992 - August 1993) revealed that of the total beneficiaries assisted under the programme, 15.96 per cent of the old beneficiary families could cross the revised poverty line of Rs.11,000 (at 1991-92 prices), while 54.4 per cent of the families were able to cross the old poverty line of Rs.6,400 per annum. But, the analysis by income group of families revealed that in case of those within initial income of Rs.8501 – 11,000, 48.22% of beneficiary families could cross the poverty line of Rs.11,000 which is quite encouraging. The analysis of the family income of the beneficiaries reveal that a large percentage (57.34%) of the families had annual family income from assets of more than Rs.2000. The annual income from the asset was more than Rs.6000 in 29% cases.

2.1.12 The major constraint in the implementation of IRDP has been sub-critical investments which have adversely affected the Incremental Capital Output Ratio (ICOR) levels and thereby undermined the viability of the projects. Though the average per family investment has been rising steadily in monetary terms, in real terms the increase has been inadequate and in some cases sub-critical due to the inflationary trends and the increase in the cost of assets.

2.1.13 At the instance of the Ministry of Rural Development (now renamed as Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment) , the Reserve Bank of India appointed in 1993, a High Powered Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. D.R. Mehta, Deputy Governor of Reserve Bank of India to make an indepth study of IRDP and recommend suitable measures for its improvement. The Committee was asked to review among other factors, the process of selection of appropriate income generating assets, credit structure, recovery of loans, and procedural matters in respect of obtaining loans, and efficacy of existing administrative structures of the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). In consonance with the recommendations of the High Powered Committee, the new initiatives taken by Government under IRDP in the Eighth Plan included (a) targeting the segment of literate unemployed youth below the poverty line for IRDP activities by giving them subsidy upto Rs.7500 or 50 per cent of the project cost (whichever is lower) (b) promotion of group activities through enhancement of ceiling on subsidy to Rs.1.25 lakh or 50 per cent of the project cost (whichever is lower) for all group ventures involving at least 5 members (c) back-ending of subsidy to prevent leakages in subsidy administration (d) shifting the emphasis to financial targets and qualitative parameters from a perfunctory physical coverage of families and (e) enhancing the limit of allocation to programme infrastructure from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in all the States and 25 per cent in the North Eastern States.

2.1.14 Among the other steps taken to enhance the efficacy of the programme are abolition of the cut of line to enable all families below the poverty line to be assisted under the programme, targeting the investment per family at progressively higher levels each year, extension of the family credit plan to 213 districts of the country, enhancing the ceiling limit of collateral free loans to a uniform limit of Rs.50,000 with a view to easing the constraints faced by poor beneficiaries while taking loans from the banks, extension of the cash disbursement scheme to 50 per cent blocks in the country, decentralisation of the sanctioning powers for infrastructural projects below Rs.25 lakh and entrusting the banks with the task of identification of beneficiaries in about 50 districts on a pilot basis. These interventions have had an impact on the average per family investment which rose from Rs.7889 in 1992-93 to Rs.15036 in 1996-97.

2.1.15 In pursuance of the High Powered Committee’s recommendation, for the first time in 1995-96 credit targets were fixed. There has been a continuous increase in the volume of credit mobilised by the banks during the successive years of the Eighth Plan period. Correspondingly, the subsidy credit ratio, which averaged 1:1.77 in the first three years of the Eighth Plan, rose to 1:1.96 in the fourth year and further to 1:2.17 in 1996-97. However, there are genuine reasons for the inability of the banks to meet the full credit requirements of IRDP beneficiaries. These include poor recovery of IRDP loans, lack of adequate rural banking infrastructure in certain areas and the weak financial performance of Regional Rural Banks and Cooperative banks.

2.1.16 There has been considerable diversification of IRDP activities since the inception of the programme. Initially, a majority of the beneficiaries under the programme subscribed to primary sector activities. In 1980-81 the sectoral composition of IRDP activities was heavily skewed towards the primary sector which had a sponsorship of 93.56 per cent, while the share of the secondary and tertiary sectors were 2.32 per cent and 4.12 per cent respectively. Over the years, the share of the primary sector has come down considerably and is currently around 55 per cent, while the shares of the secondary and tertiary sectors have increased proportionately to 15 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

2.1.17 Inadequate development of infrastructure and insufficient forward and backward linkages and market facilities have been an area of concern under IRDP. In an attempt at filling up the critical infrastructural gaps and strengthening the linkages and marketing facilities, the allocation under IRDP towards the development of programme infrastructure was increased from 10 per cent to 20 per cent in all the States and to 25 per cent in the North Eastern States. Decentralisation in the sanctioning powers for infrastructural projects had already been given effect to in 1994-95. However, despite this enhanced provision for programme infrastructure under IRDP and the relaxation in sanctioning norms, the actual expenditure on infrastructural development was a mere 5 per cent to 7 per cent of the total allocation under the programme at the all-India level. There is, therefore, a critical need to prepare a perspective infrastructural plan at the district and block level and to ensure that the funds earmarked for infrastructural development under IRDP are closely monitored and not diverted elsewhere.

2.1.18 The salient features of IRDP performance during the Eighth Plan are given in Annexure-I.

Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM)

2.1.19 The Scheme of TRYSEM, a facilitating component of IRDP, aims at providing basic technical and entrepreneurial skills to the rural poor in the age group of 18 to 35 years to enable them to take up income generating activities. The Eighth Plan had emphasised the importance of a proper assessment of the training needs of the rural youth in relation to self and wage-employment opportunities, quality of training and group training. During the Eighth Plan, 15.28 lakh youth were trained under TRYSEM, of whom 34.16 per cent took up self-employment and 15.05 per cent wage-employment; while the remaining 50.79 per cent remained unemployed. (Performance details are given at Annexure-II.)

2.1.20 With a view to strengthening this programme, several initiatives were taken in the Eighth Plan which include, among others, an increase in the stipend and honorarium rates; emphasis on professionalised training through the established and recognised institutes like ITIs, Community Polytechnics, Krishi Vigyan Kendras etc., exploring the possibilities of setting up production groups from amongst TRYSEM trainees for undertaking ancillary activities like manufacture and assembly of modern items of production; utilisation of TRYSEM infrastructure funds for the strengthening of Nirmithi Kendras (Rural Building Centres) sponsored by HUDCO for training of youth under TRYSEM in the trades of low cost housing and the setting up of mini-ITIs at the block level to strengthen the training infrastructure for the rural youth.

2.1.21 The TRYSEM programme was evaluated for the first time in a Quick Study (June to August 1993) conducted through independent research institutes/organisations. The main findings of the evaluation study are as under :

  1. Of the total sample districts, area skill surveys were not carried out in 92 per cent of the districts to assess the potential skill requirements. This resulted in a mismatch of job skills in 53.3 per cent of the sample districts.
  2. Of the total number of beneficiaries, who got training under TRYSEM, roughly 47.19 per cent were unemployed after the training and 32.54 per cent took up self-employment after training of whom 12.41 per cent took up employment in trades other than those in which they were trained.
  3. A majority of the beneficiaries i.e. 66.52 per cent cited lack of funds as a major reason for not taking up self-employment independently after the training.
  4. A major proportion of TRYSEM trainees i.e. 53.57 per cent did not apply for loan under IRDP. Of the total beneficiaries, who applied for loan, only about 50 per cent were given assistance under IRDP upon completion of training.
  5. Roughly, 73.38 per cent of the beneficiaries could derive an average monthly turnover upto Rs.1000 as a result of self-employment taken up by them after the training.
  6. 63 per cent beneficiaries felt no improvement in their socio-economic conditions as a result of TRYSEM training.

2.1.22 There has been a poor convergence of TRYSEM with IRDP which has also been reflected in the Fourth Round of the Concurrent Evaluation of IRDP (1992-93). Only 3.88 per cent of the IRDP beneficiaries had received training under TRYSEM. It was also observed that the rural youth trained under TRYSEM were only interested in the stipendiary benefits they received during the course of training and therefore, had not utilised the knowledge gained under the programme for furthering their self-employment prospects. In practice, therefore, such expenditure on training had become infructuous because of an absence of linkages between the employment opportunities available and training provided. Clearly, TRYSEM has been a weak link in the overall strategy for self-employment in rural areas.

Supply of Improved Toolkits to Rural Artisans (SITRA)

2.1.23 Launched in July 1992, as a sub-scheme of IRDP in selected districts, this scheme has since been extended to all the districts of the country. Under the scheme, a variety of crafts persons, except weavers, tailors, needle workers and beedi workers, are supplied with a kit of improved hand tools within a financial ceiling of Rs.2000, of which the artisans have to pay 10 per cent and the remaining 90 per cent is a subsidy from the Government of India. The supply of power driven tools, subject to a ceiling of Rs.4500, is also permitted under this scheme. Beyond this, any additional finance required by the artisans can be provided through loans under IRDP. The rural artisans are trained under TRYSEM for which an age relaxation has been provided to them.

2.1.24 Since the inception of this scheme in 1992-93 upto 1996-97, 6.10 lakh toolkits have been distributed to rural artisans at an expenditure of Rs.116.19 crore. (Performance details are given at Annexure-III.) Reports from the State Governments indicate that the scheme has been well received by rural artisans. The more popular crafts under this scheme are blacksmithy, carpentry, stone craft, leather work, pottery and cane and bamboo work. Prototypes of improved tools in these crafts have been developed by the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), Regional Design and Technical Development Centres under the Development Commissioner, Handicrafts and other organisations. The SITRA was evaluated by an independent research organisation, i.e. Development Alternatives, New Delhi, in two Districts of Uttar Pradesh, namely Agra and Aligarh. The findings of this study reaffirms the positive impact of SITRA. It also indicates that the income level of rural artisans have increased substantially with the use of improved tools.


2.1.25 The special scheme for Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) aims at strengthening the gender component of IRDP. It was started in the year 1982-83, on a pilot basis, in 50 districts and has now been extended to all the districts of the country. The details of the performance under DWCRA during the Eighth Plan are given at Annexure-IV.

2.1.26 DWCRA is directed at improving the living conditions of women and, thereby, of children through the provision of opportunities for self-employment and access to basic social services. The main strategy adopted under this programme is to facilitate access for poor women to employment, skill upgradation, training, credit and other support services so that the DWCRA women as a group can take up income generating activities for supplementing their incomes. It seeks to encourage collective action in the form of group activities which are known to work better and are more sustainable than the individual effort. It encourages the habit of thrift and credit among poor rural women to make them self-reliant. The programme also envisages that this target group would be the focus for convergence of other services like family welfare, health care, nutrition, education, child care, safe drinking water, sanitation and shelter to improve the welfare and quality of life of the family and the community.

2.1.27 Since the inception of the scheme till 1996-97, 1,87,918 DWCRA groups were formed at an expenditure of Rs.248.95 crore, covering 30,39,383 rural women. It was in the Eighth Plan that DWCRA received a fillip with the Government taking several initiatives to strengthen the programme. These include, among others, extending its coverage to all the districts of the country, increasing the revolving fund from Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000, permitting the formation of smaller DWCRA groups in difficult terrain and remote areas, and permitting operation of joint accounts by the group organiser and another member of the group elected as treasurer of the group rather than the Gram Sevikas and the group organiser, so as to facilitate the DWCRA groups in managing their own affairs. The Child Care Activities (CCA) component was introduced in the DWCRA programme in 1995-96 with the objective of providing child care services for the children of DWCRA women. Similarly the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) component was introduced to generate an awareness among rural women about the development programmes being implemented for their upliftment and welfare. The Eighth Plan also saw the extension of the Community Based Convergent Services (CBCS), a component of DWCRA, to 141 districts of the country.

DWCRA – The Case of Andhra Pradesh

  • Strategy adopted for formation of sustainable DWCRA groups had the following salient features :
  • Formation of Thrift and Credit groups to develop group dynamics, cohesion and homogeneity among the members.
  • Savings provided the entry point for poor women to come together through a Self-Help mechanism.
  • Democratically managed groups with collective decision making.
  • Sustainable income generating activities with access to credit under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and to training facilities.
  • Total Literacy Campaign (TLC), Kalajatha, multimedia publicity campaign through All India Radio (AIR). Doordarshan and print media, involvement of youth leaders, mahila mandals, voluntary organisations and Government functionaries created awareness and contributed to the process of social mobilisation

2.1.28 In the implementation of DWCRA, some States like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tripura and Gujarat have performed very well while in other States, the performance and impact of DWCRA has been relatively poor. In Andhra Pradesh, in particular, several successful DWCRA groups have been formed and this has led to the empowerment of women in decision making on various social aspects that impinge on their daily life. The range of activities pursued by these groups are also fairly diverse. Some have started mini banks and have, thereby, reduced their dependence on the money lenders. Other groups are managing lands taken on lease. Quite a few have formed mini transport companies, having acquired autos, LCVs etc. on bank loans. The success of this programme has been attributed to two major catalysts namely, adult literacy among women and its culmination into a women’s movement and close involvement of the NGOs. There is a need to evolve an institutional mechanism for replicating the successful DWCRA groups throughout the country.

PODUPULAKSHMI – Pride of Nellore Women’- a success story.

  • As a sequel to the Total Literacy Campaign and anti-arrack agitation, `PODUPULAKSHMI’ (Podupu means saving, Lakshmi – Goddess of Wealth) was started by two lakh women organised into 7000 small thrift groups of 20-30 members. They saved Rs.8.00 crore in four years.
  • The district administration provided the `PODUPULAKSHMI’ movement with the initial support and acted as a facilitator. Volunteers, animators, trainers and instructors in the Total Literacy Campaign acted as PODUPULAKSHMI organisers.
  • Once PODUPULAKSHMI groups reached a level of maturity, they converted themselves into DWCRA groups. This enabled them to access the revolving fund under DWCRA which was used by the groups to provide working capital to set up micro enterprises. The savings fund was used to meet emergency consumption needs.
  • Today a wide variety of women centred activities are carried out by these groups. The ANM, the School Teacher, the Fair Price Shop Dealer, the Anganwadi Worker are all associated with PODUPULAKSHMI – bringing about a convergence of basic services

2.1.29 Yet, in the implementation of DWCRA several shortcomings have also surfaced which has stymied its successful and effective execution in some States. Several groups have become defunct over time. The reasons for these include, among others, (a) improper selection of groups; (b) lack of homogeneity among the group members; (c) selection of non-viable economic activities which are mostly traditional and yield low income; (d) the linkages for supply of raw material and marketing of production are either deficient or not properly planned as a result of which DWCRA groups have become vulnerable to competition. The District Supply and Marketing Societies have been weak outlets for the sale of DWCRA products; (e) lack of institutional financial support, inadequate training, a non-professional approach and poor access to upgraded technological inputs have deprived DWCRA groups from diversifying into high value addition activities; and (f) inadequacy of staff and their insufficient training and motivation has also affected the overall implementation of the programme. These shortcomings would have to be suitably addressed for the successful implementation of the programme in the Ninth Plan.

Wage Employment Programmes

Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY)

2.1.30 Rural poverty is inextricably linked with low productivity and unemployment. Hence, it is imperative to improve productivity and increase employment in rural areas. An employment-oriented growth strategy would achieve this goal only in the medium and long run. In the short run supplementary employment will have to be provided to the unemployed and underemployed, during the lean agricultural season. There are two major wage employment programmes namely the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) and the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) presently in operation.

2.1.31 The JRY was launched as a Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) on 1st April, 1989 by merging the National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP). The main objective of the programme is the generation of additional gainful employment for unemployed and underemployed persons, both men and women, in the rural areas through the creation of rural economic infrastructure, community and social assets with the aim of improving the quality of life of the rural poor.

2.1.32 The resources under this scheme are allocated to the States/UTs on the basis of proportion of rural poor in the States/UTs to the total rural poor in the country. From the States to the districts, the allocation is made on an index of backwardness which is based on the proportion of rural Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes population in the district to total Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes population in the State and an inverse of agricultural production per agricultural worker in that district, in equal weights. The funds are devolved to the village panchayats by giving due weightage to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes population and the total population of the village panchayat. Until recently, these funds were distributed between the village panchayats and the district level in the ratio of 80:20. However, subsequent to the revitalisation of PRIs at three levels, the JRY funds are now distributed among the village panchayats, intermediate panchayats and the district panchayats in the ratio of 70:15:15.

2.1.33 This programme is targeted at people living below the poverty line. However, preference is given to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and freed bonded labourers. Atleast 30 per cent of the employment is to be provided to women under the Yojana. In practice, however, this programme is self targeting. Given that employment is offered at statutory minimum wages for unskilled labour and that these wage rates are generally lower than the prevailing market wage rates, only those willing to do manual work for the prescribed wage rates would seek employment on these public works. While works under the scheme can be taken up during any part of the year whenever the need for generating employment is felt, these should preferably be started during the lean agricultural season but may continue thereafter, if necessary.

2.1.34 After three years of its implementation, i.e. in 1992-93, a review of the programme revealed that the per person employment generated was inadequate in terms of the requirement and did not provide enough income to the poor. It was also perceived that the resources under JRY were too thinly spread and adequate attention was not being given to the backward areas of the country. Accordingly, the strategy for implementation of JRY was modified from 1993-94 with the introduction of the Second Stream of JRY, specifically targeted at 120 identified backward districts in 12 States of the country, characterised by a concentration of the poor and the underemployed, with additional resources flowing to these districts. This modification in programme strategy was made to achieve the target of providing 90-100 days of employment per person in backward districts where there was a concentration of unemployed and underemployed persons. In addition, a Third Stream of JRY was introduced for taking up special and innovative projects aimed at preventing migration of labour, enhancing women’s employment and undertaking special programmes through voluntary organisations for drought proofing etc.

2.1.35 A Concurrent Evaluation of the JRY was conducted from June 1993 to May 1994. The study revealed that nearly 82.16 per cent of the available funds were spent on community development projects. Construction of rural link roads received the highest priority. The wage and non-wage component of the expenditure of JRY works undertaken by the village panchayats was of the order of 53:47 at the all-India level against the stipulated norm of 60:40. Muster rolls were maintained with 86.87 per cent of the village panchayats. The average wages paid per manday of the unskilled workers were more or less on the lines of the minimum wages stipulated under the Act. Of the assets created, 76.96 per cent were created by the village panchayats and 76.11 per cent of these assets were found to be in a good condition. As many as 69.35 per cent of the workers were satisfied with the benefits they received under the JRY.

2.1.36 The Evaluation Report also brought into focus certain inadequacies in the programme. It was reported that 57.44 per cent of the elected panchayat heads had not been imparted any training for the implementation of JRY works. The share of women in employment generated under the programme was only 16.59 per cent and 49.47 per cent of the works could not be completed on time on account of shortage of funds. Other shortcomings observed were differentials in the wages paid to male and female workers, non-utilisation of locally available material in a large number of JRY works undertaken by panchayats and lack of discussion of the annual action plans in the Gram Sabha meetings etc.

2.1.37 In a comprehensive restructuring of the wage employment programmes on 1.1.1996, JRY was further streamlined. In the revised strategy, the First Stream of JRY was continued in its existing form but Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) and Million Wells Scheme (MWS) which were till then sub-schemes of JRY were made independent schemes. The Second Stream of JRY, which was being implemented in 120 backward districts in the country, was merged with the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) introduced in 1775 selected backward blocks of the country in 1993-94 in view of the similarity in these programmes. The Third Stream of JRY with its thrust on innovative projects was continued. Accordingly, the JRY is now being implemented in two parts i.e. (i) the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (Main Scheme); and (ii) Special and Innovative Project.

2.1.38 Since the inception of JRY in 1989-90 till 1996-97 a total amount of Rs.26570.25 crore (Centre and State) was allocated to the programme. As against this total allocation, an amount of Rs.25661.70 crore was released of which Rs.25190.30 crore was utilised by the States. This utilisation is approximately 98.16 per cent of the total funds released. In terms of physical performance, as against a target of 6581 million mandays fixed under JRY, the actual employment generated was 6585 million mandays which is an achievement of 100.07 per cent. Of the total employment generated under the programme, the share of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes was 3659.53 million mandays (55.57 per cent) and that of women 1681.40 million mandays, which is 25.53 per cent.

2.1.39 The financial and physical performance under the JRY during the Eighth Plan period is given at Annexure-V.

2.1.40 From the data on mandays of employment generated under JRY it is difficult to assess the number of workers who have actually received employment in the rural areas and on an average for how many days. To surmount this shortcoming, registration of workers who take up employment under this programme, should be made compulsory as under the EAS.

2.1.41 Besides generating supplementary employment of a casual manual nature, the programme has contributed to the development of rural infrastructure through the creation of a wide range of community and social assets in a number of sectors. These included major irrigation works, soil conservation works, land development, drinking water wells, rural roads, construction of school buildings, panchayat ghars, mahila mandals, houses and sanitary latrines and social forestry. In fact, assistance for construction of class rooms under the Operation Black Board (OBB) programme was specially provided under JRY. Of the total cost, 60 per cent was funded from JRY and 40 per cent from the education department of the State Governments to meet the additional non-wage cost. Under Operation Black Board, 25576 classrooms and 21541 school buildings were constructed at an expenditure of Rs.176.11 crore from JRY funds between 1991-92 to 1994-95. Such an integration between sectoral programmes and JRY, with dovetailing of funds, would help in the creation of better quality durable assets.

Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS)

2.1.42 The Employment Assurance Scheme was launched on 2nd October, 1993 in 1775 identified backward blocks situated in drought prone, desert, tribal and hill areas, in which the revamped public distribution system was in operation. Subsequently, the scheme was extended to additional blocks which included the newly identified Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP)/Desert Development Programme (DDP) blocks, Modified Area Development Approach (MADA) blocks having a larger concentration of tribals, and blocks in flood prone areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, 722 non-EAS blocks previously covered under Second Stream of Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) were also brought under the EAS. The EAS has since been universalised to cover all the rural blocks in the country with effect from 1.4.1997.

2.1.43 The main objective of the EAS is to provide about 100 days of assured casual manual employment during the lean agricultural season, at statutory minimum wages, to all persons above the age of 18 years and below 60 years who need and seek employment on economically productive and labour intensive social and community works. The works are to be selected by the District Collector and implemented through the line departments in such a manner that the ratio of wage to the non-wage component would stand at 60:40. Sectoral norms for execution of various works are-watershed development (50 per cent) and agro-horticulture, minor irrigation works (10 per cent) in DPAP and DDP blocks or water and soil conservation including afforestation, agro-horticulture and silvipasture (40 per cent), and minor irrigation works (20 per cent) in non-DPAP/non-DDP blocks. In addition, funds are also earmarked for link roads featuring in the Master Plans developed in the respective districts for this purpose (20 per cent) and public community buildings in rural areas as per the felt needs of the districts (20 per cent). The village panchayats are involved in the registration of persons seeking employment and the panchayats maintain these registers. They also coordinate and monitor the works. A maximum of two adults per family are to be provided employment under the scheme. The applicants, who register themselves for employment under the EAS, are issued family cards in which the number of days of employment are entered as and when such employment is given to them.

2.1.44 The EAS is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. The scheme is demand-driven and therefore no fixed allocations are made for the districts/blocks. Instead, initial notional allocations are made to districts at the commencement of each year and thereafter depending on the demand for supplementary employment and the actual utilisation of funds the districts can request for additional funds. For the purpose of initial release, the blocks have been classified into three categories i.e. category A, B and C and Central funds to the tune of Rs.40 lakh, Rs.30 lakh and Rs.20 lakh are released as the first of the two instalments to these blocks respectively. This corresponds to the notional minimum allocation of Rs.1 crore, Rs.75 lakh and Rs.50 lakh per block per annum including the State’s matching share.

2.1.45 The financial and physical performance of EAS since its inception in 1993-94 (October 1993) to 1996-97 is given in the Annexure-VI.

2.1.46 Since the inception of EAS in 1993-94 (i.e. October 1993) upto 1996-97, a total amount (Centre and State) of Rs.6514.65 crore has been released under the programme, against which the total utilisation was Rs.5278.16 crore. This indicates a percentage utilisation of 81.02 per cent. As many as 25.90 million persons registered themselves for employment under the EAS. The programme generated 1068.60 million mandays of employment from 1993-94 (October 1993) to 1996-97.

2.1.47 The EAS has not been evaluated till date. Hence, it is difficult to assess the overall impact of the programme in terms of employment, enhancement in the purchasing power of the poor and creation of durable assets. However, the Programme Evaluation Organisation has recently undertaken a comprehensive evaluation study of this Scheme.

Million Wells Scheme (MWS)

2.1.48 In India, though the small and marginal farmers, with holdings of less than 2 hectares, account for about 78 per cent of the total operational holdings, they only cultivate about 32.2 per cent of the cropped area (Agricultural Census 1990-91). To increase the productivity of these holdings they must be ensured an assured source of water supply. Ground water made available through wells is an important source specially in the remote areas of the countryside, where canal or tank irrigation is not feasible. Though the fixed capital investment in well irrigation is fairly high, it has many advantages such as flexibility in operation, dependability of source, timing of water deliveries and low conveyance losses.

2.1.49 The Million Wells Scheme (MWS) was launched as a sub-scheme of the National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) during the year 1988-89. After the merger of the two programmes in April 1989 into the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY), the MWS continued as a sub-scheme of JRY till December 1995. The MWS was delinked from JRY and made into an independent scheme with effect from 1.1.1996.

2.1.50 The scheme was primarily intended to provide open irrigation wells, free of cost, to individual, poor, small and marginal farmers belonging to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and freed bonded labourers with a 20 per cent earmarking of JRY funds. Tubewells and borewells are not permitted under the Scheme. Where wells are not feasible due to geological factors, other minor irrigation works can be undertaken such as irrigation tanks, water harvesting structures as also development of land belonging to small and marginal farmers. From the year 1993-94 the scope of the MWS has been enlarged to cover non-Scheduled Castes/non-Scheduled Tribes small and marginal farmers who are below the poverty line and are listed in the IRDP register of the village. The sectoral earmarking which was 20 per cent upto 1992-93 had also been raised to 30 per cent from 1993-94 with the stipulation that the benefits to non-Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes would not exceed one third of the total funds utilised during the year.

2.1.51 The MWS is also a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. The cost/area norms in regard to works under MWS are decided upon by a Committee comprising of Chief Secretary, Secretary (RD), Secretary (Planning), Secretary (Irrigation) and Chief Engineer (Minor Irrigation) of the State. The beneficiarficiaries themselves are asked to undertake construction of their wells through their own labour and local labour for which they are paid. Contractors are banned under this programme. The wage to material ratio is required to be maintained at 60:40. Supplementary material costs, if any, can be met from other private/public sources. Though lifting devices are not provided under the scheme, the beneficiaries who intend to install a lifting device, are given the preference under IRDP and other relevant programmes.

2.1.52 The MWS is being implemented throughout the country. Allocations are made to the States/UTs on the basis of the proportion of rural poor in the State/UTs to the total rural poor in the country. The District-wise allocations are made by the States from their allocation in relation to the unirrigated land held by the target group with a potential for well irrigation.

2.1.53 A total of 11.04 lakh wells have been constructed since the inception of the programme till 1996-97 at an expenditure of Rs.4003.11 crore. The financial and physical performance under MWS during the Eighth Plan is given at Annexure-VII.

2.1.54 There has been no evaluation or impact study conducted in the field for the MWS. Yet, on the basis of the feedback available from certain parts of the country, this programme achieved considerable success in the districts falling in the Chotanagpur region of South Bihar, large parts of Orissa, many districts of Gujarat, besides the Eastern and Southern region of Rajasthan. In these areas, the MWS has played a significant role in transforming single cropped dry land areas held by farmers of the target group into double cropped lands, leading to increase in agricultural output and incomes. Yet, such successes have not been uniformly reported across the country. Many States have expressed difficulty in the implementation of the programme. For instance, in Punjab and Haryana where the incidence of tubewell irrigation is widespread and there is a wide network of canal irrigation systems, the programme of open dug wells is a non-viable option. Similarly, in Kerala the small size of the land holdings of the small and marginal farmers gives the scheme a limited potential. Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and West Bengal are some of the other States which have shown a poor performance in the construction of wells under the MWS. These States have been permitted to utilise the allocations made under MWS for other schemes of minor irrigation such as irrigation tanks, water harvesting structures and also for the development of land belonging to the small and marginal farmers. Some States have also been permitted to divert MWS resources for the construction of houses for the poor under the Indira Awaas Yojana.

2.1.55 Field studies in various parts of the country have identified several factors which have posed as impediments to the effective implementation of this scheme. These include, among others , (a) construction of wells without proper hydro-geological surveys; (b) a declining water table and its continuous depletion by overuse of pumping sets resulting in large tracts falling in the dark/grey zones which indicate already dangerous levels of depletion of ground water; (c) non-availability of eligible persons in the target group; (d) limited success in rocky and sandy strata; and (e) distance between wells affecting the rate of discharge.

2.1.56 The programme has also been hamstrung by inadequate linkages. There has been a failure on the part of the block officers and the banks in providing lifting devices under IRDP and other programmes, thus rendering the investment in open dug wells infructuous. In some cases, though the wells have been dug and are working, their full potential has not been realised because of a lack of extension support from the agricultural department.

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

2.1.57 The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) came into effect from 15th August, 1995. The programme represents a significant step towards the fulfilment of the Directive Principles in Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution through the enunciation of a National Policy for social assistance benefits to poor households in the case of old age, death of the primary breadwinner and maternity. It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with 100 per cent Central assistance provided to States/UTs.

2.1.58 This programme has three components : namely (i) National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS); (ii) National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS); and (iii) National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) which are targeted at people living below the poverty line. Under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), old age pension of Rs.75 per month is provided to persons of 65 years and above who are destitutes. The National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS) provides a lump sum family benefit of Rs.10,000 to the bereaved household in case of the death of the primary bread winner irrespective of the cause of death. This scheme is applicable to all the eligible persons in the age group 18 to 64. Under the National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS) there is a provision for payment of Rs.500 per pregnancy to women belonging to poor households for pre-natal and post-natal maternity care upto the first two live births. This benefit is provided to eligible women of 19 years and above.

2.1.59 In providing social assistance benefits to poor households in cases of old age, death of the primary bread winner and maternity, the NSAP supplements the efforts of the State Governments with the objective of ensuring minimum national levels of well-being.

2.1.60 The NSAP provides opportunities for linking social assistance package to schemes for poverty alleviation and provision of basic minimum services. In fact, that old age pension can be linked to medical care and other benefits aimed at the aged beneficiaries. The Integrated Rural Development Programme/Jawahar Rozgar Yojana assistance may be provided in addition to the family benefit for the families of poor households, who suffer the loss of the primary bread winner. Maternity assistance can be linked to other programmes of maternal and child care.

2.1.61 The NSAP is implemented in the States/UTs through Panchayats and Municipalities. The Panchayats and Municipalities are encouraged to involve Voluntary agencies to the extent possible for identifying beneficiaries and persuading them to avail of the benefits intended for them.

2.1.62 The NSAP programme has been operationalised since August 1995. No evaluation of the programme has been conducted either by the Central Government or by any other institution/organisation so far.

2.1.63 The details of financial and physical performance under NSAP during the years 1995-96 and 1996-97 are given at Annexure VIII.

2.1.64 In the first year of the programme in 1995-96, as against the total allocation of Rs.538.93 crore, the release was Rs.380.49 crore. Of the total release, only Rs.183.77 crore was actually utilised. Consequently, in 1996-97 there was a large opening balance of Rs.197.53 crore. Again, as against the total allocation of Rs.916.21 crore, the total release in 1996-97 was Rs.548.29 crore. Thus, the total available funds in 1996-97 was Rs.745.82 crore, of which only Rs.383.50 crore was utilised ( i.e. 51.42 per cent utilisation).

2.1.65 Of these three programmes, the performance under the NOAPS has been relatively good as compared to that of NFBS and NMBS because the administrative machinery for the implementation of this programme was already in place in most of the States. If we analyse the State-wise physical performance for the year 1996-97, even under NOAPS, only 10 States had covered more than 90 per cent numerical ceilings of the target population. Of this, 5 States/UT namely Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Pondicherry had more than 100 per cent achievement. The achievement in many States was less than 50 per cent. These States include Goa, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and North Eastern States excluding Assam.

2.1.66 The performance in the case of NFBS and NMBS was particularly poor. Under NFBS, achievement was only 28.85 per cent of the numerical ceiling. In only five States namely, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Tamil Nadu the coverage was above 50 per cent and in 7 States/UTs the coverage was between the national average of 28.85 per cent and 50 per cent, while in the remaining 20 States/UTs, the coverage was below the national average.

2.1.67 Under NMBS, achievement was only 27.57 per cent of the numerical ceiling. Except in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu where the coverage was 51.36 per cent and 60.94 per cent respectively, in all other States/UTs the coverage was below 50 per cent. In the case of 7 States/UTs the coverage was between the national average of 27.57 per cent and 50 per cent, while in the remaining 23 States/UTs, the coverage was below the national average.

2.1.68 Steps would be taken to simplify the procedures for the sanctioning and disbursement of benefits under these schemes with a closer involvement of the Gram Panchayats/Municipalities. The assistance may be sanctioned and disbursed in public meetings preferably of Gram Sabha by either Gram Panchayat functionaries or Block functionaries or appropriate level. In the case of urban beneficiaries, elected local self government officials wherever available should be involved in the process of sanctioning the assistance. The disbursement in such cases should also be preferably made in public meetings of neighbourhood/mohalla committees. These schemes would also be given increased publicity to ensure a larger coverage of beneficiaries.

Land Reforms

2.1.69 Despite attempts at land reforms over successive Plan periods, the basic character of the agrarian economy has not undergone any structural change. The pattern of land distribution is highly skewed, with a high concentration of land in the hands of a few land owners on the one hand and the growing number of marginal and sub-marginal farmers on the other. Fragmentation of land holdings continues on a large scale and only a few States like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra have been able to successfully undertake a programme of consolidation of holdings. Agricultural tenancy, which was abolished in most of the States by various enactments in the post-Independence era, continues unabated though it is largely concealed. In the wake of liberalisation, several State Governments have modified their land ceiling laws so as to exempt orchards, fish ponds etc., from the purview of land ceilings. There is also a move to make suitable changes in tenancy regulations to attract private corporate investment in agriculture. Hence, it is necessary to reconsider the issue of land reforms, particularly from the point of view of the poor, as access to land is still a major source of livelihood in rural India. In fact, it has been argued that the need for poverty alleviation programmes has arisen because the land reforms have not been implemented in a systematic way. The experience of several countries in East Asia shows that land reforms, leading to structural equity in the distribution of land, are an essential prerequisite for economic development through agricultural transformation. In addition, the efficiency of land use and land management, and protection of the land rights of the tribals and women have assumed great significance in the context of the changes that are taking place in rural India.

2.1.70 The continued importance of land reforms was recognised in the Eighth Plan, with the abolition of intermediaries, redistribution of ceiling surplus land, tenancy reforms providing security of tenure to tenants and share croppers, consolidation of holdings and updating of land records as the main objectives of the land reform policy. However, only limited success was achieved with respect to these objectives in the Eighth Plan. Given that land reforms is a State subject, the Central Government can only draw the attention of the State Governments to the pressing needs for land reforms, which are central to any strategy of poverty alleviation.

2.1.71 At the end of the Seventh Plan, out of the 72.2 lakh acres of land declared surplus, only 46.5 lakh acres had been distributed. At the end of the Eighth Plan, out of the total 74.94 lakh acres declared surplus, 52.13 lakh acres had been distributed. In other words, during the Eighth Plan only 6-7 lakh acres were redistributed. Further, 12.4 lakh acres were under disputes pending in courts and 19.59 lakh acres were not available for distribution because they were unfit for cultivation or reserved for public purposes or for other miscellaneous reasons. In fact, only 59,000 acres were available for redistribution. Of the Bhoodan land donated, 53 per cent was distributed, accounting for 24.52 lakh acres. In addition, 142.87 lakh acres of wastelands were distributed among 88.5 lakh beneficiaries. But, there is still considerable scope for redistributing Government wastelands, common lands, ceiling surplus land and Bhoodan land.

2.1.72 Similarly, in the area of tenancy reforms very little progress has been made, after the initial abolition of ‘zamindari’ and the transfer of title to owner-cultivators in the immediate post-Independence period. The successful implementation of tenancy laws has been confined to West Bengal, Karnataka and Kerala. In fact, in the Eighth Plan there was no progress in respect of conferment of rights on tenants and therefore the issue of tenancy reforms is still illusory, but requires tackling.

2.1.73 Consolidation of holdings has taken place in very few States. While 15 States had enacted appropriate legislation, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry and the North-Eastern States do not have any laws for consolidations of holdings. Several States like Bihar, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have suspended the programme. In fact, only in Uttar Pradesh, 900-1000 villages are being covered annually.

2.1.74 There is evidence of considerable alienation of tribals from their land. As per the latest available estimates, 4.6 lakh cases of tribal land alienation covering 9.2 lakh acres have been registered. Of these 2.7 lakh cases covering 6.3 lakh acres have been disposed of in favour of tribals but physically an estimated 4.7 lakh acres had been restored to them. In other cases, reconciliations are being effected.

2.1.75 It cannot be gainsaid that the essential prerequisite of any land reform measure is the recording of land rights and their updating. In recognition of this, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records was introduced during the later half of the Seventh Plan and against an outlay of Rs.20.8 crore, Rs.14 crore were spent. In the Eighth Plan a provision of Rs.175 crore was made against which Rs.98 crore were released and Rs.66.7 crore utilised. But, given that the funds are shared in the ratio of 50:50 between Centre and States, several States have not been able to provide their share and hence, the utilisation has been low. Several other States have not availed of this scheme at all. In 1995-96, funds were released only to Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal aggregating to only Rs.18.8 crore. The States have been requested repeatedly to expedite expenditure and to adopt new technologies for survey and settlement operations, preparation of maps etc. Funds for infrastructure development were also sanctioned to meet the training needs of the revenue functionaries. Some States have developed new training institutions, while a few have upgraded the existing ones.

2.1.76 In 1988-89, 8 pilot projects were taken up for computerisation of land records with 100 per cent Central assistance. Since inception, 323 projects have been sanctioned and funds to the tune of Rs.64.43 crore have been released. However, the utilisation was only to the extent of 20 per cent. This shows the tardy progress made in the implementation of this scheme on the ground.

Ninth Plan Strategy

2.1.77 Direct poverty alleviation programmes will continue on an expanded scale in the Ninth Plan. But these programmes would be oriented towards strengthening the productive potential of the economy and providing more opportunities for involving the poor in the economic process.

2.1.78 The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) would continue to be the major self-employment programme targeted to families living below the poverty line in the rural areas of the country. In the Ninth Plan it would be implemented through an integrated approach under which the existing schemes of Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM) and Supply of Improved Toolkits to Rural Artisans (SITRA), Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) and Ganga Kalyan Yojana (GKY) would be subsumed into the main programme.

2.1.79 To facilitate higher levels of investment under the programme, there would be a strategic shift under IRDP from an individual beneficiary approach to a group and/or cluster approach. As part of the group approach, the focus of IRDP would be on the formation of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) which would be the catalyst for organising the poor. The cluster approach would focus on the identification of a few specified viable activities based on the local resource endowment and occupational skills of the people of that area. The IRDP will also aim at diversifying the investments into high-value-addition sectors and non-traditional activities which have a market potential. The financial institutions would play a more significant and dynamic role by enhancing the credit flows through a continuous line of credit, instead of a one-time loan and would render constructive assistance to the beneficiaries. This would help them to increase returns on their investments. The IRDP would service the beneficiaries through a package approach, wherein the beneficiary would have access to credit, training as per requirements, upgradation of technology, delivery of essential inputs and marketing tie-ups in an integrated manner. Presently, under the IRDP, training under TRYSEM is provided as an isolated input and there has been little attempt to make a proper assessment of opportunities where skills could be more gainfully utilised. Hence, the new holistic approach would overcome some of the inherent shortcomings which have undermined the success of the programme.

2.1.80 In view of the near complementarity in the ongoing wage employment schemes, Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) and Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) will be rationalised. In the revised format JRY will be confined to the creation of rural infrastructure at the village panchayat level in consonance with the felt needs of the community. To the extent that the works undertaken under JRY would be largely labour intensive, supplementary wage employment would be generated in the process of infrastructure creation. The EAS would be the major wage employment programme which would contribute significantly to the provision of the mandated 100 days of casual manual work to those who register for employment under it. As the EAS has been universalised, specific measures would be taken to ensure that the benefits reach the poor and more backward districts of the country.

2.1.81 Land reforms will continue to be an important policy instrument for alleviating rural poverty. Access to land is still a major source of liveliood and its possession enhances the status of people in rural society. A proper implementation of land laws and policies would lead to a restructuring of the agrarian economy in a way conducive to higher rates of agricultural growth but with greater equity in the distribution of gains from it. While the ingredients of the land reform policy would continue to be the same as before, the focus would shift to a few critical areas. All efforts would be made to detect and redistribute the ceiling surplus land and to enforce the ceiling laws stringently. Given that small and marginal farms are viable, both from the efficiency and equity points of view, it is desirable that the existing ceiling limits are strictly enforced. More importantly, tenancy reforms would have to be taken up especially in States characterised by semi-feudal modes of production. The rights of tenants and sharecroppers need to be recorded and security of tenure provided to them. Leasing in of land should be made permissible within the ceiling limits. The poor should be given access to wastelands and common property resources. The land rights of women must be ensured. This would require amendment of the existing legislations in some States to ensure women’s rights with regard to inheritance of both land owned as also under tenancy. Updating of land records would have to be expedited as this is a necessary prerequisite of any effective land reform policy. Since land reforms is a State subject the States would have to be persuaded to take up these measures.

2.1.82 While the implementation of poverty alleviation programmes would be made more effective in the Ninth Plan, the extant non-monetary policies and institutional arrangements which adversely affect the interests of the poor would also be suitably addressed. In this context, the Ninth Plan will identify those laws, policies and procedures which are anti-poor and take the initiative in exploring whether some of these could be suitably modified in favour of the poor.

2.1.83 In the Ninth Plan, the poverty alleviation programmes would be more effectively integrated with area development programmes and the various sectoral programmes within the umbrella of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The PRIs will function as effective institutions of local self-government. These would prepare the plans for economic development and social justice through the District Planning Committees and implement them. The State Government would have to devolve administrative and financial power to the PRIs which fall within their purview as per the Eleventh Schedule of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992. In addition, the voluntary organisations (VO) will have to play a more dynamic role in empowering the poor through advocacy, awareness generation and formation of SHGs.

Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP)

New Initiatives under IRDP

  • IRDP will be a holistic programme covering all aspects of self-employment, namely, organisation of beneficiaries and their capacity building, planning of activity clusters, infrastructure, technology, credit and marketing.
  • The existing sub-schemes of TRYSEM, DWCRA, SITRA and GKY to be merged into IRDP.
  • Progressive shift from the individual beneficiary approach to the group and/or cluster approach.
  • To facilitate group approach SHGs will be formed and steps will be taken to nurture them.
  • For cluster approach each district will identify 4 to 5 activity clusters in each block based on local resources and occupational skills of the people. The infrastructure needs for the identified activities will be met in full.
  • The Banks will be closely involved in the planning and preparation of projects, identification of activity clusters, infrastructure planning as well as capacity building and choice of activity of the SHGs.
  • Promotion of multiple credit rather than one time credit injection.

2.1.84 The IRDP would continue to be the major self-employment programme, targeted towards families living below the poverty line in the rural areas. However, in the Ninth Plan, the focus would be on pursuing an integrated approach under IRDP by subsuming the existing sub-schemes of Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM) and Supply of Improved Toolkits to Rural Artisans(SITRA), Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) and Ganga Kalyan Yojana (GKY) into the main programme. This integration of schemes is necessary to develop the appropriate forward and backward linkages to achieve a synergistic complementarity in the overall implementation of the programme.

Project for Linking Banks with Self-Help Groups

  • NABARD initiated a Pilot project to link Banks with Self-Help Groups (SHGs), with the objective of meeting the credit needs of the poor through formal financial institutions.
  • Evaluation studies show success with increase in loan volume of SHGs, shift to income generating activities, nearly 100 per cent recovery and reduction in transaction costs.
  • 85% of the groups linked with banks were exclusively of women.
  • Scheme is being expanded, and will be replicated all over the country.

2.1.85 Furthermore there would be a strategic shift from an individual beneficiary approach to a group and /or cluster approach.

  1. To facilitate this process Self Help Groups (SHGs) will be formed under IRDP and steps will be taken to nurture these groups to enable them to function effectively as well asto choose their economic activity. Efforts would be made to involve women members in each SHG. Besides, formation of exclusive women groups will also continue as at present under DWCRA. It is proposed that group ventures which involve at least five beneficiaries would be assisted by making available 50 per cent of the project cost subject to a ceiling of Rs.1.25 lakh. This enhanced level of investment would facilitate economies of scale and improve recovery.
  2. Alternatively, a cluster approach would be preferred wherein a few specified activities are identified for assistance in an area. This would necessitate the formulation of a menu of "activity-based" project profiles in different sectors to suit the local resource endowment and the occupational skills of the local people. Accordingly, each DRDA would set up four to five activity clusters. Appropriate infrastructure and technology inputs would be built into the project.
  3. The Family Credit Plan would be extended to all the districts of the country in a phased manner. The feedback from the States suggests that this strategy has met with reasonable success and has raised investment levels.

2.1.86 One of the major constraints in the implementation of IRDP has been sub-critical investments, which have adversely affected Incremental Capital Output Ratios (ICOR) and, thereby, undermined the viability of the projects. Recognising that the level of investment is the most crucial variable in determining the incremental income generated under IRDP, the credit flows and the average level of investment per family for the Ninth Plan would aim at achieving enhanced levels of investment in the range of Rs.25,000-Rs.50,000 depending on the estimate of the poverty line and the poverty gap. These higher levels of investment will give the beneficiary the necessary financial support for diversifying into high-value-addition sectors and non-traditional activities which have a market potential.

2.1.87 In this effort at achieving higher investment levels, the financial institutions would have to play a more significant and dynamic role by enhancing credit flows and rendering constructive assistance to the beneficiary making their investments viable under this programme. Adoption of simplified procedures by financial institutions would facilitate the BPL families in accessing groups loans under IRDP.

2.1.88 To simplify procedures the regimen of subsidy administration would be suitably streamlined in the Ninth Plan. At present, there is a complex gamut of ceiling limits on subsidy. The ceiling limit on subsidy would be fixed at 30% of the project cost subject to a maximum of Rs.7,500. However, in the case of SC/ST it would be fixed at 50% of the project cost subject to a ceiling of Rs.10,000. Therefore, for purposes of administrative expediency the area specific differential in subsidy administration would no longer exist. For group activities, however, the subsidy would continue to be Rs.1.25 lakh or 50 per cent of the project cost, whichever is lower.

2.1.89 The IRDP will seek to develop close linkages with the credit mechanism in such a manner as would promote repeated/multiple doses of credit rather than a one-time loan for the beneficiary. The emphasis, therefore, would be on establishing a continuous line of credit for the beneficiary, wherein it would be possible for the borrower to obtain need-based additional credit for working capital purposes, meeting unforseen expenditure related to proper maintenance of assets etc. which would have a bearing on the viability of the project so as to sustain credible levels of income generation.

2.1.90 Experience has shown that the IRDP has been relatively more successful in land-based activities. In recognition of this fact, purchase of land was made a permissible activity under the programme. For land-based activities, besides providing assistance for purchase of inputs to enhance the productivity of land, there exists a potential for diversifying into other allied activities, which have a high value-addition, such as sericulture, aqua-culture, horticulture and floriculture, on the existing lands of the small and marginal farmers as well as on land leased by the landless. In addition to these activities, SHGs would be given ‘pattas’ for development of wastelands, social forestry, soil conservation and watershed projects. Common property resources would also be allocated to SHGs in the villages on a long-term basis for eco-sensitive resource management. There is also a potential for allotting nurseries of the forest department to these groups for management. In all these, interest of women’s groups would have to be protected. Usufruct rights of women on minor forest produce would have to be ensured legally and administratively and assistance provided to them for purchase or leasing in of land for joint management.

2.1.91 Yet, it must be recognised that land is a limited resource and that the distribution of land holdings remains highly skewed. Hence, the need for exploring the potential of the non-farm sector is crucial. It cannot be gainsaid that the non-farm sector in the rural areas has witnessed both growth and diversification in the past few years. Around 50 per cent of the IRDP investments are now made in the secondary and tertiary sectors, based on local resources and local requirements. These include processing industries, handlooms and handicrafts. Again, in most villages there is scope for tailoring and ready-made garments, chemist shops, woodcraft, country tiles, general store etc. In addition, in villages of a reasonable size, other business/service ventures like flour milling, motor rewinding, cycle repair etc. could also be promoted under IRDP. Greater emphasis should be placed on developing rural industries which would catalyse the overall development of that area. In a situation of an ever changing pattern of demand, emergence of new products and technologies in a dynamic and growing economy, an attempt would be made to integrate the IRDP activities, particularly those in the Industry Services and Business (ISB) sector with the market. This task would be entrusted to a team of experts/professionals, who would prepare sectoral and micro plans for identifying the thrust areas and activities for working out necessary linkages with other departments/agencies.

2.1.92 The artisans in the rural areas, despite their rich heritage and skills, largely belong to the poverty group. The scheme for Supply of Improved Toolkits to Rural Artisans is directed to this particular target group. In the Ninth Plan, to enable the rural artisans to take advantage of the new opportunities thrown up by the market, there has to be a quantum jump in their skills and productivity to make their activities viable and profitable. It is also necessary to support them with appropriate product designs and training, improved technology on the one hand and professional management and marketing support on the other. In other words, the rural artisans should be serviced through a package approach wherein the distribution of improved toolkits is supplemented with the supply of credit and raw material, marketing support and upgradation of existing technology.

2.1.93 The timely and adequate supply of trade specific toolkits would be given added attention. While deciding the source for supply of toolkits, quality and cost considerations, alongwith the post-delivery services offered by the manufacturer would be of considerable significance. It is important to constantly upgrade the design of the toolkits. For this, research and development would be given due emphasis. States would be advised to take the initiative in developing toolkits in at least two or three artisanal trades. The Department of Science and Technology, the National Small Industries Corporation, the Small Industries Services Institutes and the IITs would interact with the State Governments for development of appropriate technology and designs for improved toolkits for various artisan groups. In the process of designing and manufacturing these trade-specific toolkits, there would be constant consultations and dialogue with groups of artisans and reputed craftsmen in that particular trade. To broadbase the source for supply of toolkits some master craftsmen would also be trained in the manufacture of improved tools/toolkits. An effort would also be made to develop capabilities for design and upgradation of improved toolkits by artisans themselves. There are pockets of rural technology which have survived the onslaught of modern technological innovations by virtue of their sturdiness and locale-specific utility. These would be identified and replicated elsewhere. For the dissemination of technology the State Governments, in collaboration with the manufacturing agencies, would undertake promotional activities by organising exhibitions at several locations and on important occasions.

2.1.94 Since the 1991 Census data on rural artisans are still not available, the States would be required to conduct a district-wise survey of the total number of rural poor artisans, the number of such artisans provided with improved toolkits and the balance number to be covered. This exercise would facilitate a planned and phased coverage of this target group under IRDP. While individual artisans would continue to be covered with the supply of toolkits in traditional crafts, it is also proposed to cover the rural artisans through a cluster approach and to provide/saturate each cluster with trade-specific toolkits and related inputs in a package. In the implementation of this group cluster approach, due emphasis would be given to the formation of women artisan groups.

2.1.95 Availability of infrastructure facilities is an essential prerequisite for the success of IRDP activities. Substantial investments in programme infrastructure would be ensured, through a larger apportionment of funds, in consonance with the enhanced provisions of 20 per cent for IRDP infrastructure (and 25 per cent in the North Eastern States). There would be a special emphasis on infrastructure created under ISB sector with the setting up of service-cum-facility workshops at convenient places in the rural areas. These could provide common facilities in the use of machines and equipments to the rural artisans as also for repairing electrical gadgets of various types, agricultural implements, automobile parts and articles of common use. These workshops would also be set up in the tribal areas so that the process of initial value-addition to minor forest produce could be undertaken by the tribals themselves. Funding for infrastructure would also include the setting up or upgradation of technology resource centres.

2.1.96 Provision of marketing facilities is an important aspect of infrastructural development. In the Eighth Plan detailed guidelines were issued for setting up District Supply and Marketing Societies (DSMS) with the objective of providing integrated services to IRDP beneficiaries in the cottage and rural industries sector for the supply of raw materials, marketing of surplus products, information on technological upgradation and extension of credit support. Whereas some State Governments have taken the initiative in this regard, by and large the DSMS or similar bodies do not have much of a presence in most areas. In the Ninth Plan alternative strategies would be formulated for developing a suitable marketing infrastructure under IRDP. These would include (i) provision of transport arrangements for carrying IRDP products to rural/urban markets; (ii) introduction of insurance cover to mobile sellers; (iii) provision of better storage facilities; (iv) setting up and revamping of District Supply and Marketing Societies; (v) sale of IRDP products through Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) outlets, State Emporia etc., besides networking with DRDA showrooms/markets; (vi) setting up of quality control centres and consultancy centres which the beneficiaries could approach for advice for improving the quality and standard of their products; (vii) involvement of private sector in marketing by adoption of better packaging techniques, design, input, quality control, brand name etc.; and (viii) launching of a suitable advertisement campaign for IRDP products including organisation of exhibitions, melas. Furthermore, the potential of rural haats as a rural marketing outlet for IRDP products would be fully exploited.

2.1.97 There are certain areas in the country which have a very poor banking infrastructure. The areas of North-East and parts of Jammu and Kashmir fall under this category. Attention would be given to evolving innovative strategies and programmes to take care of the unbanked areas.

2.1.98 However, while diversifying the rural economies in high-productivity sectors, provision of adequate training facilities and upgradation of skills would be given primacy. As we have seen, the TRYSEM programme has been the weak link in the overall strategy for self-employment in rural areas. In the Ninth Plan, therefore, training would be made an integral component of IRDP. This integration would reduce to a great extent, the area-skill mismatch as the training would only be imparted in those trades/occupations which have a market potential. Yet, training would not be made compulsory as there are certain trades/activities under IRDP which do not require this input.

2.1.99 To strengthen the content and design of the training curriculum, the training institutes would have to constantly upgrade their syllabi in tune with the rapid changes in the job market. A basic foundation course would be a critical ingredient of the training curriculum which would make the trainees aware of simple accounting procedures, book keeping techniques and procedures in financial management, information on how to approach the banks and other financial institutions for loans, where to access the latest technology etc. Training would be given a sharper employment focus wherein the training content would be compatible with the area-specific ground realities and would be specifically imparted in those trades and activities which have a market orientation/potential and which would ensure the beneficiary sustained employment.

2.1.100 The quality of training would be improved. Inadequacy of proper infrastructural support has posed as a bottleneck in this effort. While the emphasis would continue to be on imparting training through the established and recognised training institutes like ITIs, Community Polytechnics, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, etc., the training infrastructure in these professionalised training institutes would be suitably strengthened. Special thrust will be given to the creation of training opportunities for women via strengthening of women ITIs, womens wings in general ITIs and women polytechnic. It is also necessary to upgrade the training skills of the trainers in the various government institutions imparting training to IRDP beneficiaries. The existing craft training centres and skill development institutes etc. would be revamped to cater to the needs of the changing situations. In those blocks where there is a concentration of unemployed youth and where there are no reputed training institutes in the vicinity, mini-ITIs should be set up, but only very selectively. Smaller private institutions and craftsmen will be engaged only where institutional support is not available.

2.1.101 In addition, a more effective liaison and interface between the State Governments, DRDAs and the formal/informal private sector/NGOs is required in order to identify the available employment opportunities in a region and develop training modules accordingly. Efforts would be made to establish a direct linkage between ITIs and industries in the areas where the youth could either be employed directly or could set up ancillaries to cater to the industrial demand. A similar linkage could be established between ITIs and exporters/export houses on the lines similar to gem cutting training in Gujarat. Such linkages are possible in rural hinterlands of towns/urban agglomerations. It is proposed to develop a Management Information System (MIS) through which important training institutes of relevance for IRDP throughout the country are identified and networked. This would give some idea of the areas deficient in the training infrastructure and would indicate where future investment should flow for meeting the training requirements.

2.1.102 With a view to ensuring that the benefits under the programme reach the more vulnerable sections of the society, the Ninth Plan would continue with the assured coverage of atleast 50 per cent for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe families, 40 per cent for women and 3 per cent for the physically handicapped. Experience in the implementation of IRDP suggests that programmes focussed on women, or in which women have played a dominant role, have performed better. The DWCRA programme has been an excellent vehicle for extending IRDP credit support for women beneficiaries in some States. The group strategy would, thereby, become the main plank for achieving the stipulated reservation for women over the next few years.

2.1.103 In the Ninth Plan social mobilisation will receive a special thrust. Initiative will be taken to build and strengthen the organisations of the poor with the objective of enhancing their capabilities. In this process voluntary organisations would have to play an important role in empowering the poor through advocacy, awareness generation and social mobilisation. As social animators and rural organisers they would help the poor to form SHGs in order to take advantage of the policies and programmes being implemented by the Government for their economic betterment. A voluntary organisation or a technology group could lend support to group activities by ensuring training, technological upgradation and convergence of various schemes. In addition, the DRDAs and PRIs would provide support for capacity building and provide access to credit, technology and markets to SHGs. A cadre of para professionals from within the community would be created to enhance the capability of the SHGs and help the community to access the facilities and services meant for them.

2.1.104 The DRDAs would be restructured in the light of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, which has enhanced their area of operation, commensurate with a larger inflow of funds. The scope of the activities implemented by the DRDAs has enlarged progressively over the years from the sole implementation of rural self-employment programmes to exercising effective coordination and supervision over other Centrally Sponsored Schemes. In the revised format, the DRDAs would work under the supervision and overall control of the Zilla Parishads. The Chairman of the Zilla Parishad will be the Chairman of the DRDA Governing Body and will preside over their meetings. The organisational structure (staffing pattern) of the DRDAs would be suitably revamped and strengthened with the induction of professional cadres and technical experts. The expertise would have to be developed in the fields of credit, technology upgradation, activity-specific training and infrastructural development. To make this implementing agency effective, the staff would have to be given sufficient exposure to the complexities of poverty eradication, human resource development, gender and related issues. The DRDA’s agenda for operation in the Ninth Plan, would not be limited only to the achievement of physical targets, but also to ensure the quality of the programme and realisation of intended benefits for the targeted poor beneficiaries.

Wage Employment Programmes

2.1.105 The thrust of the Government policy is on assuring at least 100 days of employment per person per year by coordinating all the wage-employment schemes including the State schemes like the Employment Guarantee Scheme in Maharashtra. Now, with the universalisation of the EAS, both JRY and EAS are operating in all the districts/blocks of the country. At present, the JRY is being implemented through the panchayats and the EAS through the administrative apparatus. However, in consonance with the Government policy, the EAS would also be implemented through the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in future. There is, therefore, a near complementarity of objectives and there would be a common implementing agency namely the PRIs in the case of both JRY and EAS.

Wage Employment Programmes
  • JRY will be confined to the creation of rural infrastructure according to the felt needs of the people at the village level through panchayat.
  • The EAS would be the major wage-employment programme.
  • In order to make EAS effective in reaching the poor and more backward areas of the country, it is proposed that funds released to States should be made as per incidence of poverty.
  • Works can be taken up in blocks where there is concentration of the poor and underemployed, and workers have registered themselves for manual work.

The only major difference is that while, under JRY the allocations are made on the basis of a specified criteria, the EAS is a demand-driven scheme. In the latter case, only initial notional allocations are made and then depending on the demand for supplementary employment and actual utilisation, requests for additional allocations are made by States/Districts. Therefore, in theory there is a good case for merging these two schemes into a single wage-employment programme. Though the merger of the schemes may be operationally expedient, there would be practical constraints. Under the EAS works are taken up at the block level whenever workers register themselves for casual manual employment. Hence, it is possible that no works are taken up in many villages, particularly those which are` economically better off or where the population is sparse. In this case, these villages would be denied funds presently flowing to them under JRY. This would lead to contradictions as JRY has made the villages more independent in so far as they can take up small works according to the felt needs of the community without having to look for funds from the district administration. The JRY has also been successful in taking development to the people with planning and implementation of works according to their felt needs.

2.1.106 Therefore, it is proposed that the JRY would be confined to the creation of rural infrastructure at the village panchayat level. To the extent that the works would be largely labour-intensive, supplementary wage-employment will be generated and this would be monitored without the existing stipulation of a wage-material ratio of 60:40.

2.1.107 The EAS would be the major wage-employment programme. The funds at present flowing to the block and district levels under JRY would also be rediverted to the EAS, augmenting the resources under this scheme. However, certain precautionary measures would have to be taken in order to make the scheme effective in reaching the poor and the more backward areas of the country, where there is a concentration of the poor and underemployed. Towards this end, it is proposed that funds released to States should be made on the basis of the incidence of poverty in order to prevent the better-off States from cornering a larger share of the funds. To elaborate, in progressive States characterised by higher levels of agricultural productivity, higher per capita income and/or high literacy rates there is little real demand for casual manual work on public works. Yet, in these States demand is artificially created as, in the lean agricultural season, labour is willing to work on public works at the prevailing minimum wage rates which are relatively high. In this way, the State’s specific real demand is not being addressed and in fact, there is a diversion of resources from the relatively poorer States to the more progressive ones. In such a situation, EAS would cease to be a genuine demand-driven scheme and, therefore, suitable measures would have to be taken to ensure that scarce resources reach the targeted poor and the more backward areas of the country.

2.1.108 Hence, as a second step, the allocations from the States to the districts will also be made on the basis of a predetermined criterion which reflects the relative backwardness of the district. Below the district level, the works can be taken up in blocks where workers have registered themselves for casual manual work. Urbanised blocks would be excluded from the purview of this scheme. No contractors would be involved. This scheme would essentially be implemented by the PRIs at the block level, but with a specific apportionment of funds to the DRDA/ZPs, for taking up inter-block and district level works.

2.1.109 Presently, under EAS the funds are earmarked for specific activities in given proportions. Fifty per cent is earmarked for watershed-related activities. It is argued by many that it may not be fair to pre-empt the bulk of the resources for watershed-related activities being implemented in a few villages to the relative neglect of other villages in a block. In the spirit of democratic decentralised planning, the choice of activities must be left to the Panchayat Samities/Zilla Parishads which can select from the various activities/works envisaged in their block/district plans. However, at least 40 per cent of the expenditure would have to be on watershed-related activities in DPAP areas as water conservation through construction of water harvesting structures has become one of the priorities of planning, particularly in the plateau and rocky areas where water tables are falling rapidly and ground water acquifers need recharging. It may be worthwhile to spell out that the works should be labour-intensive with a 60:40 ratio of wages and materials and should lead to the creation of durable assets and rural infrastructure.

2.1.110 In short, EAS will be the single wage-employment programme operating throughout the country, while JRY will be confined to the creation of durable community assets at the village level. So far, under the JRY a certain quantum of funds was earmarked for Special and Innovative Projects. However, experience gained from the implementation of this component of JRY has indicated that most of the projects were not really innovative in nature but merely a replication of the existing programmes on traditional lines. Hence, there is no need to continue a separate scheme for Special and Innovative Projects.

2.1.111 Currently, the funds for IRDP and its allied programmes are shared between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 50:50, whereas the wage-employment programmes such as the JRY and the EAS are funded by the Centre and the States in the ratio of 80:20. It hardly needs to be emphasised that the wage-employment programmes are more popular with the State Governments on account of this cost sharing pattern. As against this, the equal cost sharing formula for self-employment schemes seems to have dampened the enthusiasm of the State Governments towards IRDP and allied programmes. States with difficult resource position find it hard to contribute their share of the outlay. In the Ninth Plan, it is proposed to alter the funding pattern under IRDP and bring it at par with the rural wage-employment programmes. In fact, the cost sharing formula for both IRDP and the wage employment programmes would be revised to a uniform ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and the States.

Million Wells Schemes (MWS)

2.1.112 In view of its importance in providing a source of irrigation to the target group, the MWS would continue in the Ninth Plan to provide for maximisation of agricultural output. Simultaneously, the level of ground water would have to be maintained by the adoption of suitable recharging practices so that the small and marginal farmers can derive maximum benefits from their small holdings.

2.1.113 Until recently, the focus under the MWS was on the creation of employment, with the secondary objective of providing a source of irrigation. This situation has now been modified by delinking the MWS from the JRY and repositioning it as a beneficiary-oriented scheme of irrigation for enhancing agricultural productivity levels of the small and marginal farmers.

2.1.114 The per capita assistance under the MWS for providing a well on the land of the small and marginal farmer ranges approximately from Rs.30,000 to Rs.35,000, though some States have reported a cost of upto Rs.1 lakh. Such a well can irrigate, on an average, one or two hectares. There have been suggestions from some States to permit the construction of field channels in conjunction with the digging of wells. This is particularly significant in view of the fact that water lifted from the wells is conveyed through open unlined earthern channels by most of the farmers, leading to conveyance losses of about 14 to 19 per cent. Necessary control and diversion structures for open line channels may be provided to avoid wastage of water. The channels could consist of structures of soil, cement or even prefabricated cement concrete.

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

2.1.115 The NSAP was introduced as a social security programme for the welfare of the poor households. However, it must be recognised that it is not a poverty alleviation scheme but more in the nature of a welfare programme and hence, has a limited role in the overall strategy of poverty alleviation. Moreover, the financial assistance provided to poor households in the case of old age, death of primary bread winner and maternity is in the nature of transfer payments and therefore, it should really form a part of non plan expenditure. Furthermore, the performance under this programme indicates that it has not been effective in reaching the intended beneficiaries. Moreover, several States have their own schemes of old age pension and maternity benefit for which provisions are made in the States Plans and this should continue to be within their purview, as it is a State subject. Yet, as this programme has now been introduced as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme it would continue in the Ninth Plan but would require a review thereafter.

Land Reforms

2.1.116 In the Ninth Plan the issue of agrarian restructuring will continue to receive the top most priority in the expectation that the States would be able to facilitate changes that would make for more efficient agriculture, leading to increases in both output and employment. This process will, in turn, contribute to the achievement of a higher rate of economic growth with social justice.

2.1.117 The main components of the land reform policy are the detection of ceiling surplus land and the distribution of the existing surplus land, besides tenancy reform, consolidation of holdings, providing access to the poor on common lands and wastelands, preventing the alienation of tribal lands and providing land rights to women. However, for the successful implementation of land reforms, updating of the land records, both by traditional methods and through computerisation, is an essential prerequisite. Let us elaborate.

2.1.118 Ceiling on Land Holdings: With the introduction of the Land Ceilings Act in 1972, the ceiling on land holdings was introduced in almost all the States with the exception of some North-Eastern States, though the ceiling limit varied depending on the quality of the land. The ceiling surplus land was to be distributed among the landless poor. In this way, land ceiling was considered an important instrument for reducing disparities in the ownership of land and as a way of increasing productivity through greater utilisation of labour. However, in practice, the extent of land declared surplus was very limited. The total area declared surplus is estimated at less than 2 per cent of the total cultivated area. Further, distribution of surplus land has been limited in several States because of institutional and legal rigidities. There are other reasons too which have led to the poor performance with regard to land ceiling. Most importantly, the ceiling surplus land continues to exist in a concealed way particularly in areas which have been covered by irrigation in the post-1972 era. Further evidence suggests that there are areas where land owners have land in excess of ceiling limits which can be mopped up if the programme for unearthing it is pursued vigorously. Also, in order to circumvent the ceiling laws, benami and furzi transfers are effected which need to be identified. There is clearly a need to detect the land falling within the ceiling limits and redistribute it. But detection and distribution of ceiling surplus land require tremendous political and administrative will.

2.1.119 In the wake of the economic liberalisation in certain States like Karnataka, the industry and the large farmers are being given exemption from ceiling laws without seeking the permission of the Government of India. This would certainly go against the interest of the poor as it would increase landlessness and depress agricultural wages. Hence, this issue requires close examination, before such exemptions are given.

2.1.120 Small farms are efficient in terms of yields and returns per unit of area. However, they are often not able to generate adequate income to sustain further investment. Therefore, there is a need for both horizontal and vertical diversification of small farms. An analysis of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR’s) data of national demonstrations shows that there are large technological/yield gaps, particularly in the backward regions, which, if fully exploited, would enable the marginal and small farmers to generate incomes well above the sustenance level, subject to crop rotation, cropping pattern, yield responses of technological adoption, etc. In fact, in irrigated areas, the small and marginal farmers are viable because of their capacity to produce two or three crops a year. In the case of rainfed agriculture, a breakthrough in dryland farming is required with respect to the traditional cereal crop that can grow in these areas. Alternatively, there is a possibility of shifting to other high-value crops like fruits, vegetables, mulberry, etc. Other support systems would have to be appropriately developed to provide facilities for credit, marketing, storage and transportation of the perishable high-value crops. In fact, a change in the cropping pattern away from cereals to some high-value crops, would certainly make the small and marginal farmers viable. Also, given the increasing market demand for certain products, sericulture, horticulture and aquaculture have a great potential. In Maharashtra and West Bengal a small piece of land yields adequate returns from horticulture and acquaculture respectively. This provides further justification for ensuring that ceilings are strictly enforced as small farms can be perfectly viable in the given context.

2.1.121 As observed in the UNDP Human Development Report 1996, as land is redistributed from big to small farms, not only the family labour per hectare can increase sharply, so, can hired labour also. For both the reasons, the employment situation improves even for those, who remain landless after the land reform. The main conclusion from this is that an agricultural strategy centered on small farms, rather than large, simultaneously increases the social efficiency of resource use in agriculture and improves social equity through employment creation and more equal income distribution, that small farms generate.

2.1.122 While there appears to be a rationale for reducing the existing ceiling limits further with a view to alleviating poverty of the growing number of rural landless poor, this is unlikely to have the support of the State Governments. Therefore, a pragmatic approach would be to strictly enforce the existing ceiling limit without permitting any attempt to circumvent it. Given the employment elasticity of agriculture in areas, which are agriculturally backward, land reforms would ensure both agricultural growth and greater employment for the rural poor. It would also provide a social status to the large number of poor. A greater transparency in the method of distribution of surplus land is possible with a greater involvement of panchayats, local communities and NGOs.

2.1.123 Tenancy Reforms: The policy with regard to tenancy clearly provided for conferment of ownership rights on tenants or for acquisition of ownership rights by them on payment of a reasonable compensation to the landlords. The tenancy laws of most States abolished tenancies so as to vest ownership of land with the actual tiller. Despite the legal provisions to abolish tenancy, it has continued to flourish with the existence of a large number of tenants and sub-tenants without any protection against eviction leading to insecurity among them. The continued existence of oral and concealed tenancies has led to low investments and low productivity in agriculture in several States where the implementation of tenancy reforms has been tardy. In contrast, in West Bengal, Karnataka, and Kerala, much success has been achieved in this respect. The success of ‘Operation Barga’ in West Bengal is well documented. This shows that conferring occupancy rights on the tenants has led to better investments in land and consequently, a higher rate of return. Hence, it is desirable that States which have a high incidence of concealed tenancy recognise this fact and record the rights of tenants. In addition, absentee landlordism has to be restrained. To the extent that large land owners leave their land fallow, either the State should take it over and lease it out on a long-term basis or the land owners should be required to lease it out on a long-term basis. Measures would have to be taken for the protection of tenants against displacement, eviction and other forms of exploitation.

2.1.124 A ban on tenancy was imposed in almost all the States to encourage owner cultivation and to give security of tenure to the sharecroppers and the tenants. In areas characterised by semi-feudal modes of production, where agricultural markets are not well developed, this ban is desirable with a view to protecting the tenants. It has been demonstrated that in 1972-73 in Purnea district of Bihar 40 per cent of the land was under sharecropping. This percentage has gone down and is probably around 25 per cent. The share of landholders is limited to 25 per cent of the gross produce but in practice this is perhaps illusory. Since the tenancies are oral and the sharecroppers are weak their hold on land is tenuous and they have to give to the landlord more than half of the produce. In this case, the tenants have no incentive to make long-term investments in land. The landlords also do not look upon it as a productive asset but a store of value and a reflection of their social status. Both the landlord and the sharecropper would gain if the sharecropper had the rights of cultivation in the land as he would make greater investments which would lead to higher returns. This shows that in areas where tenancy flourishes, reforms are required together with a proper implementation of laws.

2.1.125 On the other hand, in the "Green Revolution" areas where there is greater awareness and the markets work, freeing the lease market for land would contribute both to equity and efficiency. In these areas where the traditional arrangements exist, the tenants have been reduced to the status of an agricultural labourer with the landlord exercising considerable influence. In this case, the tenants as well as small and marginal farmers would be able to augment their operational holdings by leasing in land and, with a greater intensity of cultivation, it would lead to greater output. Clearly, agricultural tenancy should be opened up and leasing in of land permitted subject to the ceiling limits. This would activise the land market which would enhance the poor people’s access to land.

2.1.126 Protection of Tribal Land: Despite the commitment that the tribal lands must remain with the tribals, alienation of the tribals from their land continues on a large scale due to various legal loopholes and administrative lapses. Hence, in the Ninth Plan legal provisions must be made for the prevention of alienation of tribal lands and for their restoration, not only in the notified scheduled tribe areas but also in the tribal lands in other areas. Also, the regulation of resale of the tribal lands should be made as stringent as possible. Given that alienation is basically a consequence of economic deprivation and social discrimination it is felt, that for the tribal communities, various development programmes must be dovetailed in order to improve the income level of these people and to provide them with a basis for sustained livelihood. Even in the case of acquisition of lands of the tribals by the Government for public purposes, it should be restricted to a minimum. Encroachment of land belonging to tribals should not be permitted. Even civil courts should have no jurisdiction in the proceedings involving transfer of land of persons belonging to scheduled tribes.

2.1.127 Consolidation of Holdings: As already stated, consolidation of holdings has been successful in a very few States though several States have enacted legislation in this regard. In some cases, there are genuine problems in the process of consolidation including proper valuation of land, fear of eviction of small and marginal farmers who are tenants, inadequate availability of staff and lack of updated land records. Despite these constraints, consolidation of holdings makes for efficient land use and water management, leading to higher productivity and, therefore, must be enforced wherever practicable. However, in so far as there is insecurity among the tenants and small and marginal farmers, the State must ensure that their interests are protected. Consolidation operations, whenever undertaken, should be integrated with survey and settlement operations in order to avoid duplication in work and harassment to the affected person. The involvement of the Panchayati Raj Institutions should facilitate this process through a greater participation of the village people.

2.1.128 Government Land and Common Property Resources: In rural areas every village has common lands as well as other common property resources. These are a source of sustenance to the landless. Evidence suggests that considerable area of the government land has been taken over both by the rural poor as well as by the rural elite for agricultural and housing purposes. Unluckily, due to negligence, unsustainable overuse and excessive pressure of population on land, the productive capacity of common lands has been diminishing. However, joint forest management and watershed development programmes are schemes which can be successful in the regeneration of these common lands. Clearly, ‘pattas’ should be given to the rural poor in order to provide them access to a means of livelihood. There are several success stories, both in the area of joint forest management as well as watershed development by groups of people, especially women on common land, which could be replicated. These lands can also be used for providing grazing land, fodder and fuel to the poor. If the common property resources vest in the Gram Panchayat, access to it should be limited to the rural poor and the rural elite should not be allowed to encroach upon it. Similarly, the wastelands which are lying unutilised should be reclaimed and distributed among the marginal farmers and landless labourers of the area. This would provide them a source of income as also generate greater output from a variety of activities in the area of agriculture, horticulture, fodder, fuelwood and other agro-forestry. Given the paucity of ‘cultivable’ land, it is necessary to redistribute the wastelands and fallow land in order to provide productive employment to the poor.

2.1.129 In the case of land vested and in possession of the Government and/ or where a final decision is pending in a judicial court, it is suggested that such land should not be kept vacant but allotted to eligible rural poor on a short-term basis with a clear understanding that they would have to handover the land to the original landlord if the court so directs. However, legal opinion is being sought on the possibility of taking up this measure. Again in the case of Government wasteland and degraded forests, there is a growing opinion that such land should be allotted/leased to the corporate sector and for industrial and commercial purposes. As argued above, this too would adversely affect the rural poor. Access to such land should be restricted to the rural poor in order to provide them with employment.

2.1.130 Gender and Land Rights: So far, the strategy of land reforms has not given any cognizance to the existing gender inequalities in land inheritance laws and ceiling laws. In most regions of the country, women constitute a disproportionate number of poor. They are also more dependent on agriculture for a livelihood than men, as men shift to non-farm employment. Also, it is estimated that 20 per cent of the rural households are de facto female-headed. Yet, very few women have titles to land and even fewer control it. Hence, ensuring women’s effective command over land will be one of the new priorities of the Ninth Plan.

2.1.131 Traditionally, it was accepted that agricultural land would be inherited by sons, even though in some States the inheritance law did not stipulate such a provision. Hence, it is necessary to implement the laws and also to record the rights of women, where it is legally claimed by them. Further, in so far as inheritance rights in tenancy laws are subject to specific land acts, the issues cannot be easily resolved. In some States the tenancy laws provide for devolution of tenancy to male descendants and only in their absence, women can inherit, but then also to a limited extent. Hence, it is recommended that States should amend their land and inheritance laws so as to bring agricultural land at par with other forms of property. There has been some progress in this direction in Southern and Central India.

2.1.132 Many of our States have improved women’s access to land and landed property. States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have amended the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 to formalise issues related to women’s right to property including land. Some, like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have provided that issues related to property, including landed property, would be dealt with in accordance with the appropriate personal laws. However, serious anomalies continue to persist. A number of States like U.P. Haryana, J and K, Delhi and Punjab are apparently yet to take adequate steps to provide the Constitutional/legal safeguards to women with respect to their access to land.

2.1.133 Additionally, it is necessary that when ceilings are fixed in relation to a "family unit", the definition of a family should be uniform across States and sons and daughters should be given equal consideration, both while assessing ceiling surplus land and in land distribution under various resettlement programmes. The pattas should be in the name of women to a larger extent. While joint pattas are better than no pattas, which do not provide the women control over it. In fact, groups of poor rural women should be given group pattas with usufructuary rights, but no right to sell individually. This group approach would enable the women to retain control over land. They could invest in the land collectively and cooperate in sharing both labour time and the returns. There are several instances of such joint management by groups of women which need to be replicated. However, to enable women to reap the benefits of land acquisition, greater access to information, credit, inputs, marketing and technologies must be provided to them.

2.1.134 In order to have a better data base, both the Agricultural Census and the National Sample Surveys should provide information on land ownership, land operated and land under tenancy by gender. So far, land-based statistics are recorded on a household basis. A pilot survey should be undertaken proceeding the next nationwide NSS data collection exercise.

2.1.135 Updating of Access to Land Records: Maintenance of up-to-date land records is crucial for effective implementation of land reforms. In recognition of this, during the Seventh Plan period, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records was introduced with a view to strengthening survey and settlement organisations at the grassroots level through training, equipment, staff etc. Hence, it is imperative that States should give special emphasis to resurveys and adopt appropriate modern technologies for this, including aerial survey, photogrametic systems, global positioning system, use of scanners, digital computerised maps etc.

2.1.136 Further, a special drive for recording land rights of tenants and sharecroppers, as in West Bengal, must be undertaken by other States. As recommended by the Conference of Revenue Ministers held in 1997 all the existing tenancy reform legislations should be examined and a model legislation prepared.

2.1.137 Another Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Computerisation of Land Records was started during 1988-89 as a pilot project. But the scheme has made little progress. In fact, several factors including power shortage, lack of trained staff and bureaucratic procedures involved at various stages, have constrained the progress of computerisation of land records. Despite these problems, computerisation must be given a high priority and solutions found for the operational problems. The updating of land records can be expedited even without computerisation through the involvement of panchayat institutions and the local revenue functionaries. The village-level revenue functionaries should be placed under the control of the Gram Panchayats, though the appellate jurisdiction should continue with the tehsildar. At the district level, the land revenue system must work under the Zilla Parishad. The 30 per cent representation for women in PRIs should help the cause of women in so far as recording of rights of women in land is concerned.

2.1.138 Moreover, steps have to be taken to bring about greater transparency in the administration of land records, with access to information regarding land holdings on demand by any individual. Copies of land records, including record of rights, field books/field map, Land Pass Books as also mutation statements, status of land and jamabandi register should be accessible and copies provided on payment of a fee.

Anti-Poor Laws and Policies

2.1.139 Over time, the expenditure on the various poverty alleviation programmes has increased significantly. It is true that these programmes play a vital role in ensuring that the poor are able to sustain themselves, particularly during the lean seasons, through generation of additional employment and incomes. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that spending money is not the only way of ameliorating the conditions of the poor. Scant attention has been paid to the role of non-monetary policies and institutional arrangements which affect the lives of the common people, especially the poor. There are several laws and policies which are anti-poor. The knowledge about them is scattered and often anecdotal. However, some examples may illustrate the nature of the problem.

2.1.140 For tribals and forest dwellers minor forest produce obtained from forest and common property resources is a major source of livelihood. However, the poor tribals are facing problems in gathering this minor forest produce due to diversion of non-timber forest produce to the industry. Bamboo forests are being readily leased to the paper industries regardless of the provision in the Forest Policy 1988 which stipulates that the forest dwellers have the first charge on the forest produce. Rural artisans, who make products out of bamboo, face shortage of raw material as the forest departments allot them green bamboo in rationed quantities. This practice has been observed in Karnataka and Orissa. In some cases, forest land is leased out to private industry for long periods. This too adversely affects the poor.

2.1.141 The forest department also issues licences to women for gum collection from babool trees and compels them to sell their entire collection to the forest department at a prescribed price which is one third to one fourth of the market price. In some States, tribals can collect hill brooms but cannot process these into a broom nor can they sell the collected items in the open market. Thus, the poor are prevented from making value addition through processing and are denied the right to get the best price for their produce. Licensing activities for the poor in rural areas are cumbersome and time consuming. To set up a charcol kiln one requires four to five types of permission.

2.1.142 The cattle flayers in UP have no legal control over their own produce i.e. the hides they flay from the naturally fallen animals. The Zilla Parishads award contracts either to individuals or to cooperatives for collection and storage of hides. Hence, the flayers are not able to sell in the open market but are forced to accept the terms made by the contractors. Again in Bihar, auction ferry right is made in favour of Zamindars and contractors who collect tolls and taxes from the poor who have to cross the river to sell their produce. In addition, those who are fishing or plying boats across the river have to pay taxes to the Zamindars. Normally, access to, and use of, the river should be free to farmers, labourers, petty traders etc. In Assam, the fishery laws are such that the fishermen do not benefit from them. A sector of the river is leased out to "Mohildhars" who auction the fish and only 1/3rd is given to fishermen who actually catch the fish. These are ways in which common property resources are being used in a way that are prejudicial to the poor.

2.1.143 The rural poor do not have a level playing field as the market for their finished products are dominated by a single trader or cartel of traders operating in the area. In the market, the terms of trade are against them. Neither the public nor the private sector has encouraged the growth of poor people’s organisations but, instead, has either tried to suppress or control them. Cooperatives could have become the real supporters of the poor and needy but the process for their formation and registration is very cumbersome. Where cooperatives of poor people have been successful such as womens’ beedi cooperatives, they have been taken over by private companies. Similarly, the Government has often interfered with the independence of the cooperatives by putting government operators incharge of them.

2.1.144 Such examples abound. An exercise has already been done to document some of these laws and policies. In the Ninth Plan, an attempt will be made to initiate the process of identifying anti-poor laws/policies, Statewise. These would be brought to the notice of the policy makers, local governments and NGOs so that these may be suitably modified and/or repealed in the interest of the poor.

Integration of Poverty Alleviation Programmes with Sectoral Programmes

2.1.145 It is necessary to recast the special employment programmes with a view to making them more effective in meeting not only the short-term objective of providing temporary work, but also in building up the productive capacity of individuals/areas which, in turn, would make for greater employment on a more sustainable basis. The focus would have to be on agriculture and allied activities, besides rural non-farm sectors and services, which have a high employment elasticity. This would require a high degree of convergence among the various poverty alleviation programmes (PAPs), area development programmes and sectoral schemes, within a district plan based on the physical and human endowments of the area, the felt needs of the people and the total financial resources available. Using scientific methods, remote-sensing agencies at the Centre and State level would be asked to provide detailed maps showing land, water and other physical resources of the area, with the aid of photogrammetry and satellite imagery. The detailed maps would then be scrutinised to identify all possible watersheds. Planning along watershed lines would ensure minimum surface run-off, thus conserving water from rainfall. Viable activities in agriculture and allied sectors would have to be selected. Agro-processing activities linked with the cropping pattern, village and small industries with growth potential and other infrastructural gaps would also have to be identified and prioritised. Within this framework, poverty alleviation programmes would be integrated with area development programmes within a developmental plan at the district level.

2.1.146 So far, there has been a complete dichotomy between various sectoral as well as poverty alleviation programmes that have been planned and implemented by the concerned line departments. The Government has recognised this dichotomy but greater efforts have to be made to effect the convergence in practice. As a start, an attempt has been made to integrate DPAP and DDP, EAS and the Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP), all being implemented by a single Ministry. Watersheds are to be constructed and associated works of drainage, land development and terracing undertaken. Also, afforestation, agro-based and horticultural development, pasture development, crop demonstration for popularising new crops/varieties and upgrading of common property resources are being taken up. Clearly, there is scope for integrating other sectoral programmes of soil and water conservation, forestry, minor irrigation, animal husbandry, agriculture and other departments, funds from which flow from sectoral heads to the district level. Once the area plans are prepared, dovetailing of funds would not pose a problem.

Institutional Mechanism for Delivery

2.1.147 Consequent to the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, State Governments have enacted enabling legislations providing for local bodies at the village, intermediate and district levels. In almost all the States with the exception of Bihar the PRIs have been duly constituted. The State Governments are required to endow these PRIs with the requisite financial and administrative powers to enable them to function as institutions of self-government. The PRIs would be responsible for preparing the plans for economic development and social justice through the District Planning Committee and for implementing them, in respect of the items listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitutional Amendment. This process of devolution is at various levels of operationalisation for individual States. It is expected, that in the Ninth Plan, the States would devolve funds on the panchayats both from the Consolidated Funds of the States and the allocations made by the Central Government for Centrally Sponsored Schemes. In addition, the panchayats have to be given their own revenue raising powers, as per the recommendations of the State Finance Commissions. It is expected that village level plans would be prepared, based on the felt needs of the people as articulated in the Gram Sabha meetings. These plans would be incorporated into the intermediate level plans and finally merged into a district plan. This district plan would then enable the dovetailing of funds from the various sectoral poverty alleviation and area development programmes. In this way, development planning would begin from below reflecting the aspirations of the people within the constraints of the available physical and financial resources.

2.1.148 Voluntary organisations would also play an enhanced role especially as facilitators and social animators in bringing about greater awareness through advocacy. They would also help the poor to form self-help groups with the objective of improving their economic status through concerted action. In this way the PRIs, the voluntary organisations and the community would work in tandem to bring about greater development at the local level and consequent reduction in poverty levels.

 Click here for Annexures

[ Vol1-Index ] - [ Vol2-Index ]
^^ Top
<< Back to Index