The Gist of Kurukshetra Magazine: January + February 2013

The Gist of Kurukshetra Magazine: January + February 2013







Lab-To-Land Initiative-An Introduction

The government implements a wide range of programmes for the welfare and development of rural population. The Ministry of Rural Development also has a large number of schemes and programmes. The investment under these programmes has grown at a compounded annual rate of growth of 26.8% from Rs. 7169 crores in 2001-02 to Rs. 76376 crores crores in 2012­13. These programmes aim to improve the quality of life of rural households by providing them infrastructure for roads, housing, drinking water and sanitation, opportunities for income, employment, skill development, social security and support for proper management of natural resources. People’s institutions like Gram Sabhas/ Ward Sabhas are assigned a pivotal role in planning and implementation of these programmes along with the Panchayati Raj Institutions.


A plethora of measures are required to educate the people about their rights, entitlements and procedures to avail them under various programmes, forge partnerships between the people and government institutions, strengthen inter-departmental coordination, prepare village development plans, monitor and audit their implementation in accordance with the provisions of the programmes, and reinforce village unity and harmony by eliminating barriers of caste and class. It is also imperative to build the capacity of the implementing agencies to expand their outreach and become more responsive to the needs of the people in order to make the utilization of programme resources more efficient and meaningful.

Department of Rural Development, Government of India provides financial assistance to National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, 28 State institutes of Rural Development (SIRDs) and 89 Extension Training Centers (ETCs) in the States. These institutions are responsible for training and capacity building of the implementing agencies including the Panchayati Raj “Institutions, officials, resource persons, members of Self Help Groups and volunteers. NIRD conducts action research, training programmes, both off and in campus, and organizes workshops, conferences and seminars to facilitate implementation of rural development programmes. The SIRDs have five core faculty members who are fully paid by Government of India. Because of the progressive expansion of the rural development programmes, the training needs have grown considerably. NIRD needs to increase its role in organization of off campus training programmes in the States and work in closer partnership with SIRDs to meet the training needs of the flagship programmes.

Bharat Nirman Volunteers

Department of Rural Development, Government of India started building a cadre of Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNVs) under the Lab­to-Land Initiative in 2010-11 in a few selected Blocks/Gram Panchayats in order to involve the people in the implementation of programmes. In each village 30 to 60 adult persons are identified as volunteers to take a leading role in mobilization of people for effective implementation of programmes. Each volunteer is assigned 10 to 40 rural households to understand their needs and facilitate their fulfillment in partnership with government agencies. The details of each volunteer along with photograph are placed on website that provides the facility for free SMS to the volunteers. No payment is made to the volunteers and the volunteers do not have any expectation of pecuniary or non­pecuniary return for their contributions.
This initiative is being implemented through the l NIRD/SIRDs and select District Administration. Its impact on the people has made it popular both among the people and the District Administration who have sought its extension in other areas also. There is a need to expand this initiative in a phased manner to other Blocks and Gram Panchayats so that people are able to connect with the government and assume greater control over planning and implementation of development and welfare programmes of the government.

Department of Rural Development is according special focus on implementation of flagship programmes in 82 districts affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE), also known as Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts. In order to involve the people in these Districts in the implementation of programmes, it has been decided to take up mobilization of BNVs in large scale. NIRD has the mandate to organize off campus training programme, workshops, seminars and conferences and conduct action research. They can play a significant role in the expansion of the Initiative by networking with SIRDs, ETCs, PRTCs, DTCs and other allied institutions.


Lab-to-Land Initiative aims at achieving improvement in quality of life of the people by bringing into fruition provisions of the programmes for the development and welfare of the people in rural areas. It seeks to secure greater involvement of the people and make the implementing agencies more responsive so that the deficiencies in programme implementation are diagnosed and removed, and programme objectives are achieved.


Specifically, it aims to achieve the following objectives.

i. Generate awareness about rights and entitlements among the people, in particular landless labourers, SC/STs, small and marginal farmers, rural artisans, BPL families, beneficiaries of land reforms, weavers, fishermen, tribal communities, Forest dwellers, dalits, women, old, infirm, sick and other weaker sections of the society;
ii. Promote participation of people in programme implementation by activation of gram and ward sabhas and strengthening of people’s institutions like SHGs, user groups, pani panchayats, forest management committees, mahila mandals, youth clubs, farmers’ club and other community based organizations;
iii. Develop a sense of ownership among the people for proper implementation of programmes;
iv. Empower the people to act as vigilante, motivators and facilitators for proper allocation, distribution and utilization of resources and social audit under various programmes;
v. Inculcate in the people a common sense of purpose and resolve for adoption of the model of faster, sustainable and inclusive development that ensures rapid development of infrastructure, generation of income and employment opportunities along with conservation of land, water, forests and wild life;
vi. Enable PRIs, Line Departments and Banks to share their responsibilities with the people so that outreach of their services is widened and extended to remote areas, particularly in hill, desert, forest and tribal areas;
vii. Improve governance by enhancing transparency and accountability in programme implementation and forging close relationships between the government institutions and the community;
viii. Facilitate social audit, redressal of grievances of the people, amicable settlement of disputes and improve communications between the people and the government institutions;
ix. Document success stories, innovations and best practices and disseminate them among all the stakeholders for their wider adoption;
x. Identify and award persons and institutions who have made significant contributions in achieving the objectives of the programmes;
xi. Build and manage knowledge assets to facilitate learning and development and to that end prepare, print, publish and distribute manuals, guidelines and e-learning materials, and maintain and update common website (;
xii. Organize workshops, seminars and conferences for dissemination of information on programmes, improvement in coordination and convergence among different stakeholders and development of a Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) that may bring its expertise to deal with challenges in programme implementation;
xiii. Improve communications among the stakeholders so that there is a common sense of purpose, solidarity and cohesion among them in implementation of programmes;
xiv. Design, develop and deploy tools for E-governance to disseminate information, improve communication, facilitate exchange of ideas, build networks and partnerships, and expedite settlement of grievances.

Aim: Land or Rural Development field functionaries come to the Lab or Training institute to get trained and develop their capacities. It is expected that this training in turn would increase the efficiency of the development process which doesn’t happen always because the functionaries do not get training assistance continuously to bridge up the knowledge gap and to solve other implementation related problems in field. Training institute would go to the field continuously for two years and try to develop [1] the level of awareness of the people regarding the functioning of Panchayat system and people’s role in it and regarding all the Rural Development programs funds benefits and their planned utilization to increase the standard of living of themselves. [2] The knowledge and skill of the elected and govt. official functionaries who are responsible for providing services to the people through speedy, efficient and planned implementation of the Rural Development programs.

Key Points of Lab to Land: Lab to Land initiative endeavors to [i] build a cohesive Knowledge and Innovation Community comprising policy makers, implementers, academia, financial institutions, experts, NGOs and international bodies and over all the end users [ii] build collaborations to overcome the challenges [iii] bridge the urban and rural development gaps. The main point of Lab to Land is access to information by all to ensure a vibrant and efficient knowledge community and meeting information needs of all constituents of the community.

Strategies: Strategies to be adopted are [i] Identification of Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNV) through Village Development Officers (VDO)[ii] Identification of infrastructural & livelihood gaps & needs [iii] Convergence of different departmental schemes. [iv] Redressal of public grievances at the doorstep of the people through RATRI CHOU PAL. [v] Mobilization and involvement of community for, benefiting underdifferentgovt. schemes. [vi] Effective implementation of all types of Govt. schemes at the village level. [vii] Preparation of holistic village development Plan.

Some Lab to Land Initiatives: Under the initiative, 43 districts have been identified from 28 states across the country wherein on a pilot basis the effectiveness of program implementation would be enhanced through field level training. The initiative aimstobuild a collaborative knowledge and innovation community and demonstrate full achievement of the objective of all schemes of the rural sector (Rural Development, Agriculture, Watershed, Environment, Income generation, Employment, Roads, Health, Education, Sanitation, Drinking water, Electrification, Food Security, Land records, Industries, Irrigation, Citizen’s charter, Grievance redressal mechanism etc.] Some of the initiatives includes [a] District Fatehgarh sahib, Punjab. Transfer the knowledge from lab to land and demonstrate the achievements of the entire poverty alleviation programs and get hold of feedback for improvements in training, communication and overall implementation strategy, with the maturing of the intervention in the selected one block in a district. [b] Sasthamcotta Block, Kerala: [c] Thingdawl block and District Kolasib in Mizoram: Government of Mizoram constituted State Level Committee on Lab-to-Land Initiative under the Chairmanship of Minister, Rural Development and Parliamentary Secretary, Rural Development Department as Vice Chairman. [c] District Bhilwara in Rajsthan [d] Dimoria block, Assam.

Bharat Nirman Volunteers: A Cadre for Capacity Building

UNDP Report-2002 has emphasized on the importance of volunteerism that has “enormous scope for broadening participation in governance and promoting more equitable outcomes of people.” The Ministry of Rural Development has conceived Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNVs) as a part of Lab to Land initiative for better coordination among the various schemes and stakeholders and thus helps in reducing the gap in implementation of various schemes.

If model government initiatives are to be flagged off through a vital participative and model citizenry then, the BNVs scheme is an ideal flagship scheme to empower the citizenry to participate in direct government to citizen (G2C) initiatives, seeking to revive the interest of youth and other deprived sections in matters of collaborative, community capacity building and inclusive development. By coming out such a contemplative programme, Government of India intends to bring in the rural youth in the mainstream of governance at the grass root level and hence entailing and crafting a significant move for democratic participation at rural areas. It will create wonders in the states where the youth feels to be aloof and isolated from the development process. BNVs schemes definitely give an impetus to much talk about inclusive development especially in the context of youth and unprivileged sections.

BNVS: Role and Functional Benefits

The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India started building a cadre of Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNVs) under the Lab to-Land Initiative in 2010-11 and intends to train and develop about 40 lakhs persons as Bharat Nirman Volunteers (BNVs) to bring greater efficiency and effectiveness in implementation of rural development programmes. This mass-based, decentralized capacity-building people’s centered initiative is quite innovative and futuristic too.

  • They will be engaged in creating and spreading awareness and initiate people’s involvement and participate in various government programmes to make it very much popular and successful. Beside it, they will work for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, SHGs, sanitation and literacy etc. Without mass awareness, people’s participation in planning, execution and monitoring of any programme is difficult.

  • They will communicate the instances of misuse of funds, irregularities and corruption that come to their notice and communicate the same to the local rural development authority for action. This scheme will certainty contributes to the strengthening of vigilance and monitoring of the rural development programmes.

  • They will create awareness for better transparency and accountability in implementation of government programme by disseminating of information and helps in speeding up delivery of public services in the rural areas.

  • Through improved access of infrastructure and institutional services and other resources, BNVs may enhance the provision of benefits to landless laborers, forest dwellers, artisans, farmers, women and other weaker sections like SC/ST too. They will awaken them about their rights and entitlement and help them to build confidence to raise voice.

  • They will disseminate and build a sense of purpose, solidarity and cohesion among the local level for better and effective implementation of programmes.

  • The scheme no doubt enhance the status of a definite group of persons by inculcating the values of honesty, charity and integrity and thereby making them to work unitedly and voluntarily for the development of their villages and for the country too. This will develop the sense patriotism among them.

  • BNVs are working to help poorest among the poor and help the oppressed classes to fight against social evils like alcoholism, corruption, child labour and any other discrimination which work against social harmony.

  • These volunteers may assist the government functionaries in shouldering the responsibility in delivery of public services and can improve administrative efficiency in a cost effective manner.

  • There is a chance of propelling a level participation of rural youth to see for themselves “governance in practice” and seizing their chance of brainstorming a citizen led “community-based innovation” in carrying and this specific rural development programme will definitely enhance the G2C (government to citizen) service delivery mechanism for a better governance.

  • This BNVs programme is highly idealistic and positivist in terms of providing the BNVs a direct government insignia and emphasizing on the well publicized capacity building ‘and decentralized approach in spearheading lab to land initiatives.

  • They should help in preparation of citizen charters and its implementation by the assistance of Gram Panchayat, Block with other functionaries by communicating the expectations of the citizens and help in preparing a workable delivery standard for that purpose.

  • They sometimes work together to neutralize and nullify the negative forces which undermine the effectiveness of Gram Sabha and implementation of various programmes.

  • These schemes certainly motivate the rural youth to contribute for the holistic development of their village and their neighborhood.

  • BNVs may create awareness and social audit through which any deviation and discrepancy in programme can be highlighted and corrective measures can be taken.

  • It provides a platform to the marginalised and socially deprived population to actively participation in the decision making process and can raise their voice against any malpractices in the implementation of rural development schemes.

  • Scheme meant for BNVs, may serve as a training ground/internship for the rural / educated / interested youth for look out to gain experience in term of conduct and give an opportunity to these marginalised group, to essay a pivotal leadership and community-steering role.

  • The programme is set to be the stomping ground of highly motivated individuals seeking to establish their clout, reputation and presence with the village demography and using their “presence” at the village level.

  • They will become harbinger of change and initiative to chart a political route for them via local self government Panchayat level.

Bharat Nirman is a branded programme launched by the Government of India in the year 2005. It is now 8 years old, taking huge strides into rural development with flagship of Volunteering. Its scope is divided into 6 + 1sub areas like water supply, Roads, Housing, Telephone, Electricity irrigation and capacity building of rural youth, women folk etc. Government has been launching some programmes to uplift the rural poor, since Independence. Every five year plan had some allocation with regard to rural poor. ICDS scheme is a first of its kind remarkable one which is meant for the all round development of small kids(0-6) and their nutritional food. But it lost its rudder and became sulky. Midday meals programme is also another programme could not attract the rural children to break the stagnation and wastage. This programme also could not yield 100% results. Some parents due to less awareness could not send their children to ICDS centres and also to Schools. So, Bharath Nirman Programme is the mixture of old and new schemes and flagship programmes based on the philosophies of Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda, Ambedkar, Rajiv Gandhi and other leaders.

How BNVs began In the State

The Institute participated in a series of workshops /seminars organized by Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development, Govt. of India in New Delhi NIRD, Hyderabad. The seminars provided basic ideas of the Lab to Land Initiative to work with the Bharat Nirman Volunteers. A core group was constituted at the institutions to look into the matter. All relevant documents and guidelines provided by the Ministry has been translated into the Assamese language for easy understanding of the subjects. Various training and workshops were organized for the B.D.O. and other Block level officials. Different awareness generation camps were also organized for the Panchayat functionaries. PRIs have been helped a lot in selection of the BNVs.

How Present Status Achieved

Several workshops and seminars were organized for the PRI functionaries as well as the B.D.O.s & Block level officials. Different awareness generation camps were also organized for the rural people of the selected blocks for dissemination of information about the Lab to Land Initiative and proper selection of BNVs. This helps in selection of BNVs in the selected blocks. These BNVs act as facilitator for proper dissemination as well as effective implementation of the govt. programmes. There are 4813 BNVs in the State till Date.

Need to Modernize Technology Transfer Tools

Technology transfer in agriculture should focus on key interventions at different stages of the crop starting from land preparation to sowing of the seed, crop protection, harvesting, post­harvest management and marketing. Technology transfer need effective interactive groups at grass root level in the villages. This groups should become tool of disseminating information about various government sponsored schemes and these entities will help in liaising with various Govt. departments for developmental activities.

The key focus areas are:

A comprehensive Kisan knowledge Management Systems (KKMS) should be developed to provide and disseminate information related to the modern technology, modern farm implements, best agricultural practices and post-harvest management including market information. Dissemination of weather data and agro climatic conditions, latest information on prices of agriculture produce to farmers. Imparting knowledge on diversification of Agriculture to increase income per unit of land and developing Farm-based Enterprises to augment the income of the farmers from off-farm allied sources. Farmers should be sensitized for the judicious use of natural bio-resources like water, energy and other resources. Financial counselling of the farmers for better management of their financial needs.

  • Engagement of the Self Help Groups, Non­Government Organizations and other Farmer Organizations in technology dissemination and demonstrations.
  • Special emphasis should be given to engage women in implementation of various agricultural schemes.
  • There should be regular Farmer Scientist Interaction programmes at State/District level to reduce the gap between research findings and adoption of technologies.
  • Exposure visit of Farmers/Extension to technology demonstration models of the State Agriculture Universities/ ICAR Institutes/ State Agriculture and Horticulture Departments
  • Regular support for training for improving the technical competency of extension functionaries.
  • Establishment of Community Radio Stations in Agriculture Universities.
  • Engagement of private sector in technology transfer.
  • Bring awareness about Central Government Schemes like Rastriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission, Horticulture Mini Mission and other important State Government Schemes.
  • Sensitize different stakeholders (Public, Private, Civil Society, trade, industry, academics) towards challenges in agriculture.
  • Get feedback from farmers about the constraints, issues and successful interventions.

Krishi Vigyan Kendras: Central Government has taken number of steps to create necessary infrastructure for dissemination of agriculture technology in the country. Krishi Vighyan Kendras (KVKs) have been established in each district of the country and now these are the backbone of technology dissemination in our country. There are 589 KVKs in the country with the mandate to function as knowledge and resource centres of agricultural technology at the district level which could increase the technology adoption rate. These KVKs should work as technology umbrella in the district and should work in an integrated way with State Departments of Agriculture, Horticulture and other sister Departments in the district for effective delivery of the technology and inputs in an effective way. They should meet every six months to discuss their input delivery and technology dissemination strategies in an effective manner to assess the past performance and plan the strategy for the next season. But, there is urgent need to equip these KVKs with necessary technical manpower and technological infrastructure. Technical manpower is also important in the agricultural institutes and development departments in the centre and the states. State governments should fill up vacancies of scientific and extension personnel in State Agricultural Universities, and State Departments of Agriculture, Horticulture and other allied Departments without any time gap to tackle the problem of manpower shortage.

Village Knowledge Centres :Village Knowledge Centres serve as information dissemination centre providing instant access to farmers to latest information/ knowledge available in the field of agriculture, starting from crop production to marketing. Every VKC is manned by a “VKC In­charge” who looks after the operations of the VKC. Union Bank of India has taken this initiative of forming these VKCs which aims at impacting rural livelihoods to build resourceful and progressive villages.

Farm Schools: To minimize the knowledge deficit, village should be developed as the last technology centre so that farmer has not to go far away places to get the farm information. There is need to promote the establishment of 50,000 village-based farm schools throughout the country, mostly as private institutions supported and supervised by government. Media can play an important role in reducing the knowledge deficit, whether it is visual, audio or print media. The world has witnessed a revolution of information and communication technologies and our farmer too deserves to be benefited from it. A communication system that provides information about agricultural policies, markets and weather, credit and crop insurance services is important. Knowledge has to be synergized at the village level through “farm knowledge centres” in which Panchayati Raj institutions can play a critical role. The recently launched India Development Gateway Portal by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology could be used extensively for dissemination of information to all our villages.

Farmer’s Clubs: National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has taken a good initiative of formation of Farmer’s Clubs and has facilitated formation of about 25500 Farmers’ clubs spread over many states. Their key role relates to dissemination of locally appropriate technology. The bank also provides support to these clubs for various training programmes and exposure visits.

Kisan Call Centres: Call centres and Mass media need to be harnessed for wider dissemination of best practices. Free Call Centres of the Central Ministry of Agriculture are doing excellent job. Central Ministry of Agriculture has started a toll free service to the farmers where they can dial 1551 on their landline number directly access the required information during the day time and also through their mobile numbers by dialling on 18001801551. These Call Centres have been established in each state to cater to the local needs of the farmers. Farmers can interact in these call centres in their local languages. These Call Centres coordinate well with the concerned scientists and officers of the region to furnish the information to the farmers. These Call Centres should be further strengthened in technical manpower and in their area coverage.

Radio and Television: Radio and Doordarshan have made a great leap in taking the technology rapidly to the doorsteps of the farmers. The impact of this live media has certainly helped the technology to disseminate rightly and exactly with visuals and interactive live programmes. Radio has a reach to more than 90 per cent of our population and it has helped a great deal in the last 60 years. Community Radio Station can also be an effective and cheap tool for agriculture development and it should be promoted in Public - Private Partnership model. State Agriculture Universities, State Agriculture and Horticulture Departments and Non-Government Organizations should come forward in establishment of these Community Radios for dissemination of the technology at local level. Television has made technology dissemination more effective with its visual effects. Doordarshan has played a key role in this direction in collaboration with Central Ministry of Agriculture and State Agriculture and Horticulture Departments. In recent past, Doordarshan has started many innovative programmes like Live Chat Shows, Crop Seminars and many other programmes for dissemination of the innovations and other crop and season based technologies to the farmers.

Modern Vehicles of Technology Transfer: Technology has revolutionized the dissemination of information. Today, the people have easy access to many such gadgets like’ internet, mobile phone and satellite linkages which can help in faster dissemination of the farm technologies. The Central Ministry of Agriculture wants to make extensive use of Information Communication Technology and its infrastructure would be a critical component of the strategy to revitalize the National Agricultural Extension Services. Government is under way in developing infrastructure under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) to link all the blocks by a wide area network and provide connectivity upto the village level through Common Service Centres (CSCs) which would provide important support at all levels in the extension set up. Space science can also be put to effective use in dissemination of farm technologies. To provide the space technology enabled services directly to the rural population, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the Village Resource Centres (VRCs) programme in association with the help of reputed NGOs/Trusts and state/ central agencies and so far 473 VRCs have been set up in 22 States/Union Territories. In this scheme, ISRO has provided the necessary infrastructure to the selected organizations/ institutes in the field for video- conferencing of the technical manpower with the people in the rural areas. Farmers can interact with the scientist by interactive video conferencing from their villages. Technology has many uses and in this direction, access of internet has also made technology transfer very fast and cheap. State farm universities and Central Agricultural and Horticultural Institutes have put the package and practices of fruit, vegetables and crops on their website for easy access of the farmers. Mobile is another effective tool for dissemination of the technologies. In Himachal Pradesh, mobile service provider Airtel has joined hands with fertilizer giant IFFCO to provide information through SMSs to the farmers on their mobile phones. Some more developmental agencies and individuals are using the service of SMSs to disseminate the technology. Of course, farmer­friendly personal approaches of the scientists of the farm universities and officers of the developmental departments also keep the farmers close through their mobile phones and internet. Village Knowledge Centres, and online databases in local languages should be established. Fast technology dissemination will certainly reduce the knowledge deficit with the farmers and will help in accelerating the stagnant growth of agriculture, realizing higher potential of our land and hard work of our farmers.

The Central Ministry of Agriculture has tried to establish an institutional mechanism in the form of the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) at the district level under the Innovations in Technology Dissemination (ITD) component of the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) in 28 districts of seven States from 1998 to 2005. In this project, planning was made at the level of cluster of villages keeping in view the needs and feedback of the farmers. In this programme, extension support at the village level would be provided to the farmers through a Farmer Friend (FF) for every 500 farmers or one FF in every village This programme has been further strengthened on the basis of recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) and the Planning Commission’s Working Group on Extension by duly incorporating new provisions, strengthening of existing provisions and implementation mechanisms. In the technology dissemination set up of the State Governments, Subject Matter Specialistsand Agriculture Horticulture Extension Officers are the key officials. These officials will be responsible for operationalization of Farm Schools; Front Line Demonstrations; Training & Exposure visits and will assist the Gram Panchayat in selection of beneficiaries for implementation of extension as well as other programmes.

Beyond these key areas, there is need to revamp the research, teaching and extension network of the state agriculture universities. Most of the agriculture universities often face resource crunch in funding their different research, teaching and extension programmes. The funding to these institutions should be increased linked with time bound objectives and with a cap on need-based scientific and other manpower. The central government should also devise effective system in inter-linking the institutes of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and other institutes engaged in agriculture research with the state agriculture universities for pooling of the resources scientific expertise in achieving common objectives. We have the third largest pool of scientific and technical professionals. Hence, agriculture should continue to receive the first priority and best and dedicated efforts of everybody in the ladder of governance and decision making in the field.

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