Current Public Administration Magazine - "Rural Development Programmes"

Sample Material of Current Public Administration Magazine

Rural Development Programmes

India Rural Development Report 2012/13

The India Rural Development Report 2012/13 was released by Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development, Government of India. The Report was prepared by IDFC Foundation in collaboration with network partners, the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), the Institute for Rural Management Anand (IRMA), and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), with contributions from several other researchers, experts and civil society organisations. On the occasion, Dr. Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission, gave a special address. Dr. Rajiv Lall, Executive Chairman, IDFC, highlighted the key points of the Report. The launch was followed by an animated panel discussion on ‘Enhancing Rural Livelihoods: What Can Be Done?’

Concurring with the Report’s analysis of why government programmes have not been as effective in achieving their goals, Shri Jairam Ramesh said “We need continuous evaluation and feedback to help us improve our rural programmes for which we are setting up an independent Concurrent Evaluation Office.”

Commenting on the thread of sustainability that runs through the Report, Dr. Mihir Shah emphasised the centrality of water to rural life, saying “Water, which is critical for survival and livelihoods, must be managed holistically across different uses, with coordination across government departments, and with community participation.”

Dr. Rajiv Lall underscored the need to find innovative solutions to address some of the most pressing challenges, saying “While rural consumption and aspirations are rising, we can no longer fail to provide our rural population basic services and opportunities to enhance their livelihoods.”

The Report provides a comprehensive landscape of rural India, covering debates on topical issues, providing empirical analyses and synthesising literature across a spectrum of issues including regional disparity and deprivation; the changing nature of livelihoods; sustainability of natural resources; and the changing role of the state and local self-governance. It reviews all major central government rural programmes and schemes and, in particular, the flagship MGNREGA. It will be a valuable resource for policy makers, state and local bodies, researchers and the private sector.

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The Report highlights the need to develop new strategies for farm livelihoods.

  • Income from farm livelihoods is no longer sufficient for a household, especially for smaller and marginal farmers, who make up 85 percent of farm holdings, and for dryland farmers that occupy more than half the cultivated area.

  • Need to encourage new crop models for them, and revive traditional crops like millets, that suit drylands. Cultivation of different varieties of millets, which are hardy and nutritious, can be promoted by procuring and distributing through the public distribution system (PDS).

  • Various types of collective farming have helped small farmers overcome problems of scale, insecure land tenancy and poor access to credit, modern supply chains and storage.

  • Nearly 2 million farmers in Andhra Pradesh have successfully adopted community-managed sustainable agriculture (CMSA), significantly reducing their cost of cultivation and soil toxicity by doing away with chemical inputs while increasing or maintaining yields.

  • Water efficiency in farming is also critical as 80 percent of water use is for agriculture. Water must be considered a community resource and the management of both ground and surface water must be looked at holistically across all uses of water.

Non-farm income sources are increasingly important – 43 percent of rural families rely on non-farm employment as their major income source.

  • Indian rural households are typically pluriactive, combining work on their own farm, with that on others’ farms, animal husbandry, and commuting or migrating to undertake non-farm activities in villages, towns or cities.

  • Non-farm employment offers better wages and social mobility for lower castes to move out of agricultural labour. There is also some evidence that higher non-farm wages have helped increase agricultural wages.

  • Non-farm work is predominantly casual in nature with most work in the construction and trade sectors. Even manufacturing employment has become increasingly informal over time. This denies workers job security and benefits of formal employment.

  • Must tackle the important barriers to non-farm livelihoods - lack of access to credit, marketing and skills. Financing skill training is difficult: trainees are not assured job placement or higher wages, and employers find training not relevant or employee retention difficult. While some projects have worked scalable solutions are needed.

  • Recently, the government launched Aajeevika – aimed at skill development, assisting the poor set up small businesses and expanding access to capital through SHGs.

Poverty, though reducing, is increasingly concentrated amongst certain regions and social groups.

  • In 1993–94, nearly 50 per cent of the rural poor lived in seven states — Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This rose to 65 percent in 2011–12, though states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh have reduced poverty significantly since 2009-10.

  • These states, along with Rajasthan, also fare worst on education learning levels, child and maternal health, and poor penetration of healthcare services.

  • Only 18 percent of rural households have access to all three basic services – drinking water within premises, sanitation and electricity – and 20 percent have none of them.

  • Almost all the bottom two quintiles of districts in terms of access to the three basic services are in Rajasthan and the seven states excluding Assam. There are also pockets of deprivation in richer states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, which are mostly in dryland areas.

  • Poverty is markedly higher among scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) who together constituted 44 percent of the rural poor in 2009-10.

  • Despite progressive legislation, SCs and STs continue to face discrimination, limiting their participation in economic, social and political spheres. They have the highest rates of malnutrition, child mortality, and access to public health services. STs fare the worst.

Government spending on productivity-enhancing infrastructure has a more significant and lasting impact on poverty reduction than spending on subsidies.

  • Village-level connectivity has improved, especially roads, electricity and telecommunications. Yet results are not commensurate with government expenditure. Household-level access is poor, especially for the most vulnerable, and infrastructure assets are often of poor quality, incomplete, unusable or badly maintained.
  • Almost all villages are connected to the grid, but 45 percent of rural households lack electricity connections. Electricity supply is often unreliable and water supply unavailable or polluted. Almost 70 percent rural households lack sanitation facilities.
  • Also, in education, nutrition and health, service delivery is marred by widespread absenteeism of government healthcare providers and teachers, leading to poor outcomes.
  • Learning from past experience, government approaches are changing and must include:


  1. India lives in villages so development of Indian villages are development of India . Comment.
  2. Discuss the India Rural Development Report 2012/13.

(With inputs from Government of India websites and reports)


This is a Part of Public Administration Online Coaching & Study Kit