Stage III. Community Development and National Extension Service Era (1953-60)
In view of a very enthusiastic response received from the rural population in all projects and the keeness shown and the demand made by the people for Community Development Programmes, the Government of India decided to extend it rapidly to other parts of the country. However, owing to limited financial and technical manpoer resources, it was also decided to launch, along with Community Development Projects, a programme which was somewhat less comprehensive, and to integrate both under one comprehensive service, the National Extension Service was inaugurated on 2nd October 1953. Whereas Under the Community Development Projects, intensive development work was taken up in all fields, the scheme of National Extension Service was designed to provide the essential basic staff and a small fund for the people to start the development work essentially on the basis of self-help. The operational unit of this service was a N.E.S.Block comprising about 100 villages and 60,000 to 70,000 people. The N.E.S.Blocks were later converted into Community Development Blocks which had higher budget provisions in order to take up more intensive development programmes. The Pattern of Community Development Programme was further revised (modified with effect from 1 April1958). According to this pattern, there were four stages:
(1)Pre-Extension Stage, (2)Stage I Blocks, (3)Stage II Blocks, and (4)Post-Stage II Blocks.
(1) Pre-Extension Stage. At this stage, there was a budget provision of Rs.18,800 for one year. The staff consisted of a block development officer, one agricultural extension officer and five village-level workers whose main duties were to survey the whole block area, to prepare the ground work for the intensive stage and conduct agricultural demonstrations.
(2) Stage I Blocks. After one year of the Pre-Extension stage, the block stepped into Stage I, with a budget provision of Rs.12 lakhs for five years for intensive development. During this period, provision was made to have one block development officer, eight extension officers, ten village level workers(VLWs), two gram sevikas, three stockmen (veterinary), one physician and 3-4 midwives, one compunder, a sanitary inspector and the necessary office staff. It was generally expected that because of intensive work during this period the programme would gain momentum and the people would subsequently follow up the programme of their own accord.
(3) Stage II Blocks. In this stage, the staffing pattern was more or less the same, but there was a difference in the budget provision. The budget in this stage was five lakh of rupees for a period of five years, i.e one lakh per year.
(4) Post-stage II Blocks. This was the permanent stage. It was meant for the follow up work. The budget was one lakh of rupees per year. At this stage, all the developmental activities as in Stage II, under the various heads, such as agriculture, animal husbandry and co-operation, were to continue.
Starting with 55 Community Development Projects in 1952, the entire country was covered with the Community Develpoment Programme by 1963. In all, there are 5,263 blocks, besides 101 tribal development blocks. a block is the unit of planning and development. This is a new adminstrative unit meant foe tackling the problems of the rural people in entirety and in a concerted and co-ordinated manner.
In this new set-up of Community Development Blocks all the Nation-building government departments were brought together and in order to ensure co-ordination at the block level, a new post of a block development officer was created. This officer is the co-ordinator of the programme and team leader and is supported by 8 extension officers drawn from the development departments. They were one each from the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operative, panchayat, rural industry, rural development, social education and welfare of women and children. Each normal block was provided with 10 village level workers and two gram sevikas (lady VLWs).
Under this new set-up, the block is treated as an adminstrative unit for all the development departments, and the village-level worke is the contact person between these departments and the people.
Panchayati Raj System. After the initiation of the Community Development and National Extension service in India and its working for sometime, it was realized that the people’s participation was not coming forth to the desired extent.
The objectives of a planned development programme, such as the Community Development Programme, could be achieved only if the latent energies of the people were released to revive the village communities, so that local leadership might develop and enable the local people to take up the planning and implementation of development programme themselves. In order to achieve this objective, it was decided in 1958 to introduce the Panchayati Raj, as recommended by the Balwant Rai Mehta Committee. This system envisages a three-tier system at the district, block and village levels, as indicated below:
District level - Zilla Parishad
Block Level - Panchayat Samiti
Village Level - Village Panchayat
The Panchayati Raj system emphasized the importance of planning from below, so that the needs and aspirations of the local people may be viewed in the context of the local resources and what the government can provide.
According to this system a Panchayat will be established in each village. These village Panchayats would be responsible for the planning and implementation of the Community Development and Extension Programmes at the village level. At the block level the Panchayat Samities consisting of all the presidents of the village Panchayats in the block and some co-opted members are constituted. The Panchayat Samiti is in complete charge of the planning and implementation of the Community Development Programmes. The B.D.O. is the chief executive officer of the Samiti and all the extension officers are subordinate to him. The President of the Samiti is in charge of the adminstration of the entire staff and of the programme, as approved by the Samiti. The financial resources of the Samiti consist of money derived from land revenue, taxes, funds allotted for Community development, funds recieved from All-India Boards, etc., contributions from Panchayats and the people.
The third tier of the Panchayati Raj is the Zila Parishad consisting of all the presidents of the Panchayat Samitis in the district, the people’s representatives such as the Members of Legislative Assemblies, Members of Parliament, and the District Collector and some co-opted members. The Zila Parishad consolidates plans prepared in respect of all the blocks in the district and co-ordinates activities of the Samities.