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Community Development (CD) Programme


In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Meaning of Community Development Programme 2. Features of Community Development Programme 3. Organisation of the Operation  4. Administration 5. Process and Techniques 6. Failures and Weaknesses 7. Suggestions for Improvement 8. Conclusion.

Meaning of Community Development Programme:

“As the term implies, Community Development means the development of Indian Community. The development is brought about by stimulative, encouraging, aiding and assisting the villagers in improving their standards of living. For this purpose the Government appoints experts like doctors, agricultural scientists, veterinary surgeons and civil engineers to assist the farmers in improving their economic, social and cultural pursuits”.

Before Independence efforts were made for the development of the community by national leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Vinoba Bhave and others. They did not succeed for want of wide-spread organisation. After independence, the Government appointed the Grow More Food Enquiry Committee.


This Committee was asked to examine as to why the food production was not increasing and to suggest as to how it could be enhanced. The Committee noted that the reason for low food production was too much emphasis on economic aspects of production and the neglect of social aspects.

The Committee stated that “the economic aspects of village life cannot be detached from the broader social aspects and agricultural improvement is inextricably linked up with whole set of social problems. That all aspects of rural life are inter-related and that no lasting results can be achieved if individual aspects of it arc dealt in isolation.”

The Committee recommended a broader programme for increasing food production. This required the starting of the Community Development revolving round multipurpose Village Level Worker or the Gram sevak or Gram sevaka. The Government accepted the recommendation of the Committee and launched upon the CD programme from the 2nd October 1952, the birth date of Mahatma Gandhi.

Features of Community Development Programme:

(1) Concentrated Effort Over a Small Area:


Efforts in the past were concentrated over too much large an area since they tried to cover the whole country. They did not succeed. The first feature of the Community Development Projects is that they cover only a few selected areas for, concentrated effort.

“The intention is not to neglect the rest of the country, but to make sure of success by making a small beginning in a concentrated manner in comparatively smaller areas and then spread them out in the rest of the country.”

(2) Many sided Development of Rural Life:

The basic concept of the Community Development Projects is that it seeks the many sided development of rural life as distinguished from the earlier efforts in which the various aspects of village life were sought to be piece-meal and in isolation from each other.


As the Royal Commission of Agriculture had also observed, “The problem of improving agriculture is really the problem of improving the Indian village life and thus must be tackled as a whole.” Since all facts of rural life are closely interrelated, the only correct and effective method would be to attack all the problems simultaneously.

(3) Self-Help:

Another important feature is the great emphasis that these projects place on the impulse for rural development coming from the rural people themselves.

In earlier attempts the programme of improvement was invariably forced down from above by official organisations; but no lasting results can be produced until the villager himself is filled with enthusiasm and determination to improve his own lot. The essence of these community projects is, as their name itself shows, “to help the people to help themselves.”

(4) Multipurpose Agency:

These projects provide a single multipurpose agency reaching the very doors of the farmers. In the case of earlier attempts, not only did the various departments work independently of one another without a sense of common objectives, but each of these approached the villager through its own official hierarchy. The community projects avoid these basic drawbacks.

(5) Adequate Finance:

Adequate financial and technical provision is made to ensure their success. Previous attempts had suffered from serious inadequacy of such resources.

The main items in their programme are:


1. Improvement in Farming Techniques:

The improvements such as the introduction of better varieties, use of fertilizers, improvement in cropping pattern, improved tools are needed. The object is to make use of the result of scientific research as fur as possible.

2. Exploring Supplementary Avenues of Employment:

Since farming alone cannot make a farmer prosperous, it is necessary to combine with agriculture some other gainful occupations. This means the development of village and cottage industries.


3. Extension of Minor Irrigation Facilities:

It is within the power of villagers to extend irrigation facilities through minor irrigation works. The CD programme gives an important place to this item in their programme.

4. Improvement of Transport:

For agrarian development good means of transport are must. Accordingly the CD. programme makes a provision for the construction of local roads.


5. Provision of Social Services:

The CD programme makes a provision also for education, health, housing, sanitation, etc. so that the villagers can have a better life and enjoy an increased measure of social welfare.

6. Development of Co-operatives and Panchayats:

For effective implementation of their programme it is necessary that the villagers are organized on democratic lines and there is full participation on their part in the programmes. Thus, co-operatives and Panchayats are encouraged and developed further.

Organisation of the Operation of the CD Programme:


The unit of the Community Development is a Block which on an average consists of 100 villages with a population of 60,000 to 70,000 persons. Originally, the development of the block was divided into 3 phases or periods. The first phase was known as the N.E.S. phase during which there was an intensive development of the block. The second phase was known as the CD phase during which the activities were less intensive.

Thereafter, the block entered the third phase, known as the post-intensive period. The division of the block into 3 periods was artificial in nature. It gave an impression that the development of the block would be over within a period of a few years. Thereafter, less better-off. This is contrary to the basic principles of social justice the block was not to be developed at all.

In order to remove this artificial classification of the development stage, the Balwantrai Team suggested some modifications. According to which there is only one single scheme for the development or a community block. This scheme is spread over a long period of 10 years, divided into two stages of 6 years each.

During the first stage the budget allocated to the block is Rs. 12 lakhs and Rs. 5 lakhs for the second stage. Even after the completion of the period of 10 years, the block is not to be abandoned but continued till the complete reconstruction of the rural area is achieved.

Administration of CD Programme:

The administration of the movement may be divided into various layers. At the lowest level, there is a Village Level Worker to guide the villagers in their various activities like agriculture education, health/sanitation etc. The highest officer at the block level is the Block Development officer (B D.O.). He is assisted by a number of technically qualified staff like civil engineers, doctors, veterinary surgeons and agricultural scientists.

This technical staff gives instructions to Village Level Workers who pass them on to the villagers. Above the B.D.O. there is Development Commissioner belonging to the Government of the State in which the area is located. His function is to bring about co-ordination in the activities of the various Block Development Officers in his area (i.e, the State). At the highest level, there is a Minister of Community Development in the Central Government.

The Process and Techniques of CD Programme:

The method of Community Development may be broadly divided into 2 processes. One is the Extension Education and the other is the Community Organisation.

(i) Extension-Education aims at improving the proper knowledge, insight and desire to improve the conditions of living. Extension also helps the people to carry out difficult activities efficiently,

(ii) As regards the Community Organisation, there are 3 basic institutions namely, the village panchayat, the village cooperative and the village school. The panchayat, is to function as a civic and development authority, the co-operative in economic sphere and the village school in the intellectual and the cultural spheres.

Various other community organisations like the Mahila Mandal, Yuvak Mandal, Dastakar Mandal are to function in their respective spheres. These other organisations will be linked with panchayat organisationally and financially so that they can help the panchayat in development and the supported by the panchayat in their own work.

Panchayat is a democratic body and works through various committees. The village school is to be developed as the community centre. In short, the community development programme has tried recreate the village culture. The community has to be educated to understand what education can contribute in terms of its welfare.

Achievements considerably overcome, institutions for providing training to all categories of personnel required in running the movement have been set-up and are working satisfactorily; substantial physical targets have also been reached in agricultural improvement and local community works. And, above all, there has also grown up a distinct desire among the rural populace for favourable economic and social changes.

Failures and Weaknesses of CD Programme:

The Planning Commission has set up a separate Programme Evaluation Organisation which carries on a continuous evaluation of the community projects.

These reports have drawn special attention to the following drawbacks of the whole programme:

1. Insufficient Attention Paid to Agricultural Improvement:

Investments made so far under CD schemes have tended more in the direction of means of communication such as roads, and village amenities such as wells and schools, rather than in the direction of agricultural improvement. It is a case of mistaken priories.

2. Little Improvement in Agricultural Techniques:

While the use of improved seeds and fertilizers has generally increased in community development areas the pace of adoption of other improved cultural practices has been slow, such as that of fine sowing, the Japanese method of paddy cultivation, seed treatment and intensive manuring. Shortages of fertilizers and improved seeds and lack of irrigation facilities have been cited as reasons for the slow progress. The distribution system in respect of them is very defective.

3. Short-falls in Irrigation:

Extension of irrigation facilities and programmes of reclamation of land and removal of pests and diseases and soil-erosion have fallen short of anticipated levels. The Seventh Evaluation Report noted that the lack of irrigation facilities was cited as a problem in the largest number of blocks. Pests and diseases and soil-erosion were also serious problems in many blocks.

4. Slow Progress of Animal Husbandry:

The programme for the development of animal husbandry has not yet made sufficient progress. The popularity of artificial insemination has increased, but. there is inadequacy of the number of insemination centres. Also the number of pedigree bulls distributed in a number of blocks falls short of their targets for this programme. Furthermore, in several blocks there is no definite programme for increasing the acreage under fodder crops.

5. Unsatisfactory Progress in Education and Health:

The position regarding health and education is not satisfactory. In some blocks, full use of facilities like drinking water wells, hospitals and dispensaries is not made.

6. Disparity in Benefits:

Another serious weakness of the programme has been the wide disparity in the distribution of its benefits. It has made the better off materially more better-off than the less better-off. This is contrary to the basic principles of social justice and equity.

7. Uneven Progress:

Whatever progress has been made has been uneven in respect of both the different States and within the individual States.

8. Institutional Weakness:

A further shortcoming in the working of the C D programme is on the institutional side. The panchayats are reported to be working very unsatisfactorily. Their participation in planning work is inadequate. The position of co-operatives, which are the other chief agencies for many development activities, is also bad. Credit co-operative societies, multipurpose societies and industrial co-operatives have not made much progress in CD are as in terms of number, membership, working capital and owned capital.

9. Lack of Suitable Gram Sevaks:

Further, there is the difficulty of getting the right type of development officers and gram sevaks. At present, most of the gram sevaks are city dwellers who seldom believe in the dignity of labour themselves. Their training is also inadequate.

10. Imperfect Co-ordination:

There has been only an imperfect co­ordination among the various organisations and agencies engaged in the work of community development.

11. People’s Contribution Meagre:

Another serious weakness is that people’s contribution in development projects is very inadequate. In very few blocks have there been instances of public works or development programmes of common benefit undertaken by the people without any financial and/or administrative sponsorship from the blocks.

12. Financial Stringency:

The report of the Department of Community Development for 1975-76 refers to the stringent resources position. For example, the approved outlay in 1974-75 was only 62% of the requirements, while during 1975-76 the shortfall was as much as 38%.

13. No Enthusiastic Response:

The most important weakness of the CD. scheme has been that it has failed to enthuse. The villagers or to create in them the spirit of self-help, self-reliance, and co-operative effort to ameliorate own lot.

In many blocks the general attitude of the people is that community development work is an affair of the Government, that “since government is out to develop the rural areas, it should do everything without seeking any contribution from the people.” The basic philosophy and approach of the programme “are, therefore, inadequately subscribed to by the people in these areas.”

Suggestions for Improvement of CD Programme:

Following the main recommendations of the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee and the Community Development Evaluation Mission, we may make the following suggestions:

1. Democratic Decentralisation:

In order to reduce the present over- dependence on official initiative and help, and to enthuse the people and to make them self-reliant, there should be ‘democratic decentralisation. For this purpose, a new body to be named the “Panchayat Samiti” be set up which will be responsible for development activities in the block. It should be coextensive with a development block and be constituted by indirect elections from Village Punchayats.

There should be a three tier organisation consisting of the Village Panchayat at the base, Panchayat-Samiti at the Block level and Zila Parishad at the district level. The Gram Sevak who is the key-figure of the present community development system, should become the ‘Development Secretary’ of the Village Panchayat or Panchayat Samiti within his circle.

2. Greater Emphasis on Farm Output:

Emphasis should shift without delay from village amenities to farm output, therefore, the priorities as between different activities should be supply of drinking water, improvement of agriculture and animal husbandry, co-operative activities, rural industries and health, followed by all others.

Gram Sevaks should function as effective liaison officers between farmers and agencies for the distribution of fertilizers, pesticides and other essential means of stimulating agricultural production.

3. Collective Rather than Individual Benefits:

Those items should be selected for the programme which appeals to groups of villagers instead of offering benefits to individuals only. This will soon create group confidence in the villages rather than the present pre occupation with only individual’s selfish interests.

4. Strengthening Staff:

The number of village workers should be increased so that each Village Level Worker, who is the key-figure in the CD system, should serve a limited farming population in a better and more efficient way.

5. Village Industries:

Regarding village industries, it is suggested that excessive importance should not be attached to hand industries in case where machines are freely available. Facilities should be given in CD areas for the training of artisans and metal-working, brick-making, tanning and other industries which would prepare the way for modern industry. Further village industries should be linked up with urban markets to ensure the prosperity of villagers.

6. Promotion of Service Co-operatives:

Efforts should be made to promote service co-operatives as an aspect of CD for collective purchase and sale, and joint use of equipment such as pumps and in due course, tractors. For the success of such co-operatives, emphasis should be placed on the education of members, initiative and energy in the administrative personnel.

7. Soil Conservation:

Efforts should be made to convince the farmers of the need for undertaking soil conservation measures.

8. Greater Use of Unskilled Labour:

Efforts should be made to make use of unskilled labour which is abundant in villages and which can contribute to the economic development of the country through the intensification of agriculture, soil conservation, minor irrigation, afforestation, etc.

9. Better Co-ordination:

There should be better co-ordination between the various organisations and agencies carrying on development work in the project areas. Greater attention should also be given to the selection and training of community project personnel.

10. Improvement in Communication:

Finally a clean line of communication should be established from the top to the bottom and vice-versa for conveying the programme to, and ascertaining the reactions of the people.

11. Large Role of Panchayats:

Panchayats should be able to rely to an increasing extent on their own activities for the welfare of the community. In order to do this adequately, they should be able to count on more revenue from the money raised locally. This should partly be done by allotting to panchayats a large proportion of the collection of land or other rural taxes. Panchayats should be charged with making development plans at the village level.

Conclusion to Community Development Programme:

The Government is aware of the various shortcomings and it is continually examining the various suggestions what has been forwarded for removing them. It has already accepted the main recommendations of the Balwant rai Mehta Committee and the Community Development Evaluation Mission.

“We must not, however, forget that it may be easy to introduce measures of democratic ‘decentralization’, but whether these will be successful is quite a different question. When it comes to their actual practice, we cannot help entertaining doubts regarding the capabilities of Panchayat Samities and other elected bodies at local levels, because in the past such bodies have seldom been successful in discharging even much lesser responsibilities, owing to personal rivalries deep-rooted jealousies, local politics and party factions. But the significance of Community Development Projects is great that all our energies must be bent towards making them successful.”

We may conclude by saying:

“Community Development has been more sinned against than sinning. The programmes, by themselves, do not have any such lacunae as cannot be removed or defects as cannot be corrected .They have stood the test of time in their usefulness and wherever they have shown aberrations in organisational functioning they can certainly be improved to serve better.” Happily during the Fifth Plan, the Community Development and Panchayat Raj institutions would be suitably reoriented and strengthened to become instruments of social and economic changes.

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