Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The colonial connection
 Perception of four major rural...
 New ideological challenges
 Rival ideologies
 World War II and the two camps
 American leadership and aid
 The shifts in emphasis
 The Chinese model of rural...
 Special projects
 The seventies -- A decade of consolidation...
 Recommended readings
 Back Cover

Group Title: Ten decades of rural development
Title: Ten decades of rural development : lessons from India
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086773/00001
 Material Information
Title: Ten decades of rural development : lessons from India
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Khan, Akhter Hameed
Publisher: Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University
Place of Publication: East Lansing, Mich.
Publication Date: 1978
General Note: MSU rural development paper no. 1
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086773
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 4746027

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
    The colonial connection
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    Perception of four major rural problems
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    New ideological challenges
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
    Rival ideologies
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    World War II and the two camps
        Page 15
    American leadership and aid
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
    The shifts in emphasis
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    The Chinese model of rural development
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
    Special projects
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    The seventies -- A decade of consolidation of two models: Indian and Chinese
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Recommended readings
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    Back Cover
        Page 49
        Page 50
Full Text

MSU Rural Development Papers

MSU Rural Development
Paper No. 1

Ten Decades of

Rural Development:

Lessons from India

Akhter Hameed Khan

Department of Agricultural Economics
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan 48824


Carl K. Eicher and Carl Liedholm, Co-editors

The MSU Rural Development Paper series is designed to further the
comparative analysis of rural development in Africa, Latin America, Asia,
and the Near East. The papers will report research findings on community
development and rural development in historical perspective as well as on
contemporary rural development programs. The series will include papers
on a wide range of topics such as alternative rural development strategies;
off-farm employment and small-scale industry; marketing problems of small
farmers; agricultural extension; interrelationships between technology,
employment, and income distribution; and evaluation of rural development
projects. While the papers will convey the research findings of MSU
faculty and visiting scholars, a few papers will be published by re-
searchers and policy-makers working with MSU scholars on cooperative
research and action programs in the field.

The papers are aimed at teachers, researchers, policy-makers, donor
agencies, and rural development practitioners. Selected papers will be
translated into French, Spanish, and Arabic. Libraries, individuals,
and institutions may obtain single copies of the MSU papers free of charge
and may request their names be placed on a mailing list for periodic
notifications of published papers by writing to:

MSU Rural Development Papers
Department of Agricultural Economics
206 International Center
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigarr 48824



Akhter Hameed Khan**
Visiting Professor


*This paper was prepared and published under Agency for International
Development contracts AID/ta-G-1301 and AID/ta-CA-3 with Michigan State

**Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University,
East Lansing, Michigan. On September 1, 1978, Dr. Khan returned to
Bangladesh as advisor to the Rural Development Academy, Bogra, Bangladesh.
He continues to serve as an adjunct Professor of Agricultural Economics
at Michigan State University.



1. THE COLONIAL CONNECTION . . . . . . . . . 1

1.1 Asia, Africa, and South America . . . . . 1
1.2 The colonial era--destruction and reconstruction . 2
1.3 Self-destruction . . . . . . . . . 2
1.4 Features of colonial administration . . . . . 3
1.5 The colonial situation in rural areas . . . . 4
1.6 Three periods of colonial rule . . ... . .. 4


2.1 Famine: cause ana cure . . . . . . . 6
2.2 Abuses of land tenure--tenancy reforms . . . . 7
2.3 Peasant indebtedness--cause and cure . . . . 7
2.4 Rural disaffection and its remedy . . . . . 8


3.1 The colonial response--philosophy of rural recon-
struction . . . . . . . . . . . 10
3.2 Conceptual legacies of colonial rural reconstruction 11

4. RIVAL IDEOLOGIES . . . . . . . . . . . 12

4.1 The Gandhian rural utopia . . . . . . . 12
4.2 Fabian Socialist version of rural reforms--its influence 13
4.3 Rural socialism in Russia and China--its influence . 14

5. WORLD WAR II AND THE TWO CAMPS . . . . . . . 15


6.1 American rural programs--community development . .. 16
6.2 Principles and methods of community development . .. 17
6.3 Shortcomings of community development . . . . 18

7. THE SHIFTS IN EMPHASIS . . . . . . . . . 19

7.1 Origin of the Department of Agriculture . . . . 19
7.2 American model of agricultural extension . . . 21
7.3 The "green revolution" of the sixties . . . . 22
7.4 Safeguards against disaffection: colonial local
government . . . . . . . . .. . 23
7.5 Objectives and performance of post-colonial local
government . . . . . . . . . . . 24


7.6 Origin of cooperatives . . . . . . . . 25
7.7 Colonial rural cooperatives: objectives and
performance . . . . . . . . . . 26
7.8 Progress of post-colonial rural cooperatives . . 27
7.9 The problem of land tenure--two views . . . . 28
7.10 Agronomists and agrarian reform . . . . . 29
7.11 Post-colonial progress of land reforms . . . . 29
7.12 The colonial legacy of rural administration . . . 30
7.13 Attempts at reform of rural administration . . . 31
7.14 Neglect of rural areas--interior colonialism . . 32
7.15 Problems of rural education and health . . . . 33


8.1 Organizing socialist agriculture . . . . . 35
8.2 Securing popular participation and mobilization . . 35
8.3 Priority of rural works . . . . . . . 36

9. SPECIAL PROJECTS . . . . . . . . . . . 37

9.1 Imitations of the TVA model . . . . . . 38
9.2 Pilot projects of the sixties--Comilla, Puebla & CADU 39

INDIAN AND CHINESE . . . . . . . . . . 40

10.1 A decade of reconsideration for American experts . 41
10.2 Reorientation of American aid--new ends . . . . 42
10.3 No change in means and methods . . . . . . 43
10.4 The dilemma of American advisors . . . . . 43

11. RECOMMENDED READINGS . . . . . . . . . . 45


One effect of the two great wars of our century was the end of the

colonial era. Empires broke up and foreign rule disappeared from many

Asian and African countries, but it has left deep traces. Over a long

period the traditional political and economic structures of these countries

were torn apart and battered into new forms. At present, their traumatic

colonial experience is exercising a profound influence over these countries

and will probably continue to do so in the future. Few of them have

detached themselves radically from their past, or chosen divergent paths.

Most have retained, almost intact, the colonial superstructure, and also

maintained close relations with their old masters.

During their glorious days, the colonialists used the claim that

their role was very benevolent, that they were civilizing and enriching

the subjugated peoples who otherwise would have remained barbaric and

poor. Nowadays these claims are generally discounted. On the contrary,

one school of thought insists that colonialism is the real father of


1.1 Asia, Africa, and South America

Historically, the colonial situation differed in Asia, Africa, and

South America. South American countries were quickly and completely

conquered in the sixteenth century, and their native cultures were totally

subdued. In Asia, except for the Philippines, colonial domination was

not established until the end of the eighteenth century. Asian cultures

could not be overwhelmed; national revivals began shortly after the


culmination of foreign conquest. Africa was seized by colonial powers in

the nineteenth century and has suffered the shortest period of colonial

rule. The earliest successful anti-colonial revolts took place in South

America. Asian and African countries have become independent quite

recently, thus, South American countries have the longest colonial as well

as post-colonial experience.

1.2 The colonial era--destruction and reconstruction

The colonial era was both destructive and constructive. It destroyed

the old political systems and elites of the conquered people and built new

systems and new elites. It shattered traditional economic patterns and

created a novel economic relationship, that between the so-called mother

country and its colonies, the former being industrial and rich and the

latter, agricultural and poor. It denigrated the religious, social, and

educational institutions of the natives and tried to westernize and

enlighten them. The conquistadors were the heroes and the Christian

missionaries were the saints of colonialism, both working together for

the betterment of "barbarians." Asian or African countries had been

conquered many times, but previous conquerors had, sooner or later,

forgotten the "mother country" and identified themselves with the new

land. Colonial rulers aspired to be different; they wanted to be alien and

superior, and to impose on the natives, not only political subordination,

but also an inferior economic and cultural status.

1.3 Self-destruction

In spite of the faith of its founders, colonialism did not last very

long. In fact it was inherently self-destructive. First, the inevitable

rivalry between colonial powers led to great wars. Secondly, the reaction

against racial arrogance and political oppression gave birth to powerful

protest movements whose leaders, significantly, were the products of colonial

education. Thirdly, the adverse economic relationship increased impoverish-

ment and discontent. British pioneers of the golden age of the Indian

Empire had proudly proclaimed that they had solved problems which the Mogul

Emperors could not solve. Unfortunately, the golden age soon vanished and

the successors of the pioneers founded themselves surrounded by problems

which were, to a great extent, their own Frankensteins.

1.4 Features of colonial administration

Colonial rulers claimed special credit for establishing "law and

order." For this purpose they built a very strong administration whose

chief features were elitism, centralization, and paternalism. Power was

concentrated in the hands of a small governing class, who regarded themselves

as guardians of the people under their charge, their wards. For smooth

functioning, a hierarchical order was encouraged. The first class elites

at the top placed second and third class elites as collaborators at lower

levels. For the sake of pacification any existing or potential local centers

of authority or defiance were ruthlessly eliminated. The consequence of

pervasive elitism was the widening disparity between the privileged few and

the non-privileged many. The consequence of centralization was general

nonparticipation and the atrophy of local initiative. The consequence of

paternalism was childish dependency and a cult of prayerful petitions.

1.5 The colonial situation in rural areas

The rural areas were gradually transformed under colonial rule. Tak-

ing India as an example, it can be said that at first the imperial peace

was beneficial. Anarchical strife was suppressed and productive cultivation

of land was extended. But after a few decades prospects of common prosperity

faded away as the population began to increase and the rural economy began

to stagnate. Increased population and reduced non-farm employment weakened

the traditional status of farmers, workers, and artisans. Consequently,

landlords became more oppressive, demanding higher rents and resorting to

law courts to enforce their demands or evict their tenants. Another privileged

class, the merchant-moneylenders, also learned to use colonial laws to make

large profits and extort compounded interest from indigent borrowers. The

legal and administrative structure of the empire was immensely strong, but,

in the rural areas, it was often subject to corruption and too often it

became a pliant tool in the hands of landlords and moneylenders.

1.6 Three periods of colonial rule

Colonial administrators considered rural areas extremely important.

They understood that the base of their Indian empire, like previous empires,

was essentially agrarian. Throughout the imperial period they believed they

were engaged in the heroic task of sustaining the villages. But their

perception of rural needs changed from time to time. In the initial phase

the establishment of order and the settlement of land for cultivation were

seen as the two paramount requisites. After conferring these great boons,

the colonial pioneers expected steady rural progress as well as abiding

loyalty. They never tired of pointing out that never before had the

Indian villagers enjoyed such benign justice. But a few decades later,

in the middle period of the empire, in spite of some progress and much

peace, the British administrators had to acknowledge the emergence of

four major problems--the recurrence of famine, the inequity of land tenure,

ever-increasing peasant indebtedness, and smouldering disaffection with the

government. In the third and last phase the rural problems were magnified

and the administrators encountered fundamental challenges--political,

economic, and moral--to the ideology of the empire.


During the last decades of the nineteenth century colonial adminis-

trators tried to analyze and solve these four major problems. Famines

occurred at frequent intervals, devastating whole regions, generating

enormous human misery and damaging the splendid imperial image. Evictions

by landlords worsened the plight of tenants and sharecroppers and sometimes

led to violent outbursts. Peasant revolts could seriously undermine the

agrarian base of the empire. The ruthless operations of merchant-money-

lenders were inexorably pauperizing the peasantry, depriving many of them

of their little plots of land. The desperate ones were becoming dacoitss"

or bandits, forming gangs and endangering "law and order." Above all, for

a tiny ruling class of foreigners, the awareness of a lack of loyalty

among the rural masses was a most formidable threat. Luckily, the dis-

affection was concealed in passive apathy, but at intervals, it would flare up

in the form of famine, peasant riots, and banditry.

2.1 Famine: cause and cure

In the imperial era the seriousness of a problem was recognized by

appointing a royal inquiry commission. Not one, but several commissions

inquired into famines and prescribed measures for relief and prevention.

The commissions usually pointed out that famine was a natural Asian

phenomenon, partly due to the climate and partly to bad farming, which

could not be prevented except in a few regions where irrigation canals

could be built. In other regions only its shock could be lessened by

means of quick transportation of food supplies by railways and roads.

Subsequently a famine code was prepared which described, in minute

detail, when and how the dole should be distributed to save the disabled

from starvation, or how to organize public works at "test" (extremely low)

wages for unemployed peasants, or to advance loans to the landowners for

the next cultivation. The famine code was loudly advertised as one of the

imperial achievements, unprecedented in Indian or Asian history. It was

claimed, on the basis of rather dubious statistics, that under British

rule very few villagers died of starvation. More deaths, of course, were

caused by malnutrition or disease. However, famines continued to occur

with disturbing frequency, except in regions where the necessary invest-

ment was made for the control of floods and drought. In one of the very

last years of the empire (1943) the Bengal famine occurred, one of the

greatest man-made famines in Indian history.

2.2 Abuses of land tenure--tenancy reforms

Commissions were also appointed to analyze eruptions of unrest. Of

course, first the soldiers crushed the disturbance, then investigation

exposed innumerable abuses of power by planters and landlords which had

goaded the harried cultivators to revolt. While the commissioners gen-

erally upheld the tenurial system, they expressed sympathy for the under-

dogs, and recommended a little more control over landlords and planters and

a few more rights for tenants. Landless laborers were outside their pur-

view because, until then, they were an insignificant minority. In the

middle period, tenancy reform, or land reform as it is now called, was a

subject of continuous discussion. It remained so until the end of the

empire. Within the context of a stagnant economy, depressed prices,

diminishing holdings, rising rents and interest charges--which of course

the imperial administrators could not change--they really tried, with

small success, to help the peasant farmers, tenants, and sharecroppers.

But, at the end, a very difficult land tenure situation was left for the

succeeding governments.

2.3 Peasant-indebtedness--cause and cure

Landlords were not the only proteges who were abusing the powers

acquired by them under the empire; merchants and moneylenders were doing

the same. Trade and usury hurt the peasant proprietors to such an extent

that their desperation at last attracted the attention of district officers.

They discovered that low prices and high interest charges were bankrupting

the peasants at an alarming rate. Many of them were losing their lands.

The administrators saw the danger of this trend and wished to reverse it.

Those were the days of laissez-faire when trade operations were considered

sacrosanct, but attempts were made, nonetheless, to reduce usury and

regulate moneylenders. However, under the prevailing circumstances, the

lenders still had wealth and prestige, while the borrowers were needy and

helpless. Regulations were enacted, but rarely enforced. Toward the end

of the nineteenth century, some philanthropic officials wanted to give the

peasants the strength of unity by organizing them into cooperative

societies modeled after the German credit unions. It was hoped that in

this way they would be able to protect themselves from the excesses of

merchant moneylenders, just as the German farmers had done a generation

earlier. During the abnormal agricultural boom of the first world war,

village cooperatives flourished briefly, but the following slump soon made

them insolvent "banks of the bankrupts." The early decades of our century

found peasant indebtedness growing inexorably, not much affected by

regulations of usury or by credit and marketing cooperatives.

2.4 Rural disaffection and its remedy

As an antidote to the distress of rural indebtedness, colonial adminis-

trators imported cooperatives from Germany. As a safeguard against the

dangers of rural disaffection, they imported the Anglo-Saxon concept of

local government. They hoped that local councils would radiate feelings

of participation, banish apathy, and encourage local initiative. Further-

more, beginning logically at the bottom, training in local self-government

would gradually upgrade the Indians for national independence. But the

promotion by eccentric pioneers of the concept of decentralization and

autonomy could not be reconciled with the dominant imperial attitudes which

were centralist, elitist, and paternalistic. Decade after decade, until

the sudden end of the empire, cooperatives or "panchayats" (local councils)

remained not as functional parts of the steel frame but as its trim.


Thus, for fifty years colonial administrators grappled with the four

monstrous problems which had emerged in the middle period. The solutions

were far from effective. Instead of disappearing, the monsters became

more intractable. In the third and last period every bastion of the

empire was assaulted by new forces. The imperial ideology was based on

three axioms: the superiority of Europeans, the benevolence of colonial

occupation, and the right of white men to be the guardians of colored men.

The new nationalist challenge refuted every one of these axioms. There

was no superiority; there was no benevolence; and there was no right of

guardianship. On the contrary, there was the inalienable right of self-

determination. In India the nationalist challenge was reinforced by the

spiritual teachings of Gandhi. He declared colonialism a moral abomination,

the British Raj the devil's government, and the world-grabbing western

civilization the scourge of humanity. Side by side with the nationalist

challenge came the socialist challenge. It used the weapon of economic

analysis to attack capitalism and its offspring, colonialism. The appeal

of nationalism and socialism was greatly enhanced in Asia by the rise of

non-European Japan and the success of the Russian revolution.

3.1 The colonial response--philosophy of rural reconstruction

In order to respond to the new challenges--political, economic, and

moral--the colonial administrators evolved a comprehensive philosophy or

ideology of rural reconstruction, which was sedulously propagated in the

turbulent third and fourth decades of our century. In India F. L. Brayne

was the most famous propounder of this philosophy, a self-styled Socrates

of the Indian villages, but similar trends were visible in other colonial

countries. For instance, the "ethical policy" in Indonesia also tried to

rehabilitate rural areas in the same manner. Brayne admitted that village

conditions were indeed miserable. He agreed with Gandhi about the facts

of misery but not about their causes. According to Brayne, the deplorable

rural conditions were not the consequence of the imperial system, as the

nationalists or socialist agitators suggested. No, the misery of the

Indian villagers was due mainly to their own ignorance and bad habits,

their folly and vices. Indeed, they were their own enemies. Brayne

compiled a long list of their shortcomings--lazy farming, burning precious

cow dung, addiction to the hubble-hubble (the hookah), poor hygiene,

litigation, costly death and marriage feasts, female illiteracy, etc.

The Socrates of the Indian villages, having diagnosed the disease, pre-

scribed the cure. Quite logically it consisted in the acquisition of

knowledge and the reform of vicious habits: learning and practicing better

methods of agriculture, health, education, and social conduct. Brayne

assigned a new role to the government officer, viz to be the missionary of

enlightenment and reform. Contrary to the popular stereotype of an

arrogant and corrupt bully, the officer was to convert himself into a

guide, philosopher, and friend of the villagers. He was also to inspire

the loyal old collaborators, members of the gentry, to mend their ways and

give a proper lead to the commoners. Brayne invented resounding rural

reconstruction slogans--reform yourselves, help yourselves, and follow

the official leader. They are still ringing in our ears.

3.2 Conceputal legacies of colonial rural reconstruction

In the last phase of the empire there were two parallel perceptions

of rural problems and rural development--the departmental perception and

the philosophical or ideological perception. The departments confined

their purview to their own fields--local government, cooperatives,

education, health, agriculture, irrigation, etc. It was narrow but

specific. The philosophical view was broad and obscure. Brayne's rural

movement, a true child of colonial paternalism, resembled Victorian

philanthropy, which also blamed the poor for their poverty and offered

self-help as a panacea. Hard-boiled administrators regarded the rural

reconstruction approach with contempt. The movement did not make any

substantive change anywhere and vanished at the beginning of the second

world war. But it left amazingly influential conceptual legacies in the

form of three stereotypes: the peasants as childish, ignorant, and

docile; the officers as true guides, philosophers, and friends of the

peasants; and the rural gentry as the government's loyal assistants, and

the peasant's natural leaders. The principles and methods of colonial

rural reconstruction were readily accepted after the war by succeeding

governments and international agencies. They found the old approach,

originally invented to counteract subversion, extremely appropriate as a

non-revolutionary philosophy and technique of rural development. We may

note that a revolutionary organizer like Chairman Mao had entirely

different ideas about the characteristics and roles of peasants, bureau-

crats, and the gentry.


4.1 The Gandhian rural utopia

In the last period, the colonial philosophy of rural reconstruction was

competing with three other ideologies--the Gandhian, Fabian Socialist, and

Marxist Socialist. Let us glance briefly at their rural visions. For

thirty years Gandhi's ideas challenged the imperialists and inspired Indian

idealists. Gandhi was a nationalist as well as a utopian. He not only

denounced colonialism, but also rejected industrialism and urbanization.

His vision of the good life was not the acquisition of abundance, but the

curbing of wants, an ascetic renunciation. He thought that the misery of

the villagers was mainly caused by the selfishness and greed of their

rulers, the rich, and of themselves, as well. It could be cured only

through the sacrifice of self and service to others by everybody, rich and

poor alike. With few needs and much love everyone could live happily again

in self-sufficient little republics which, presumably, the Indian villages

used to be in the golden age. The missionary of the movement, the guide-

philosopher-friend, was the "constructive worker" who embodied its high

ideals and showed the true path to the villagers. The constructive

workers were social monks and their ashramss" (centers) were modern

monasteries. Undoubtedly their contribution in popularizing feelings of

national pride and defiance was great. But their neo-monasticism seemed

to avoid or overlook important economic issues. After independence its

role in the economic development of villages did not prove very dynamic.

When Gandhi was alive, admirers like Louis Fischer claimed that for the

next generation Gandhi, not Lenin, would become the real Master. Post-

Gandhian years scarcely justify such faith. As a matter of fact, as far

as rural uplift is concerned, Gandhi's movement of constructive work has

been only a little more effective than the official rural reconstruction

sponsored by F. L. Brayne. Very few areas were changed permanently or

substantially by either. But again significant conceptual legacies have

been left by the Gandhians for the present-day planners--the concepts of

the missionary "gram-sevak" (servant of the village), the little village

republics, and the bonds of love and sacrifice.

4.2 Fabian socialist version of rural reform--its influence

England, the birthplace of modern capitalism and imperialism, was

also a cradle of socialist thought. Before the end of the nineteenth

century the Fabians laid the foundation of British socialism. When the

Labor Party came into power, socialist theories began to influence

political and economic structures in England and even the colonial

government in India. Of course, the actual shifts in India were much

smaller and slower; but socialist ideas, nonetheless, undermined

imperial faith and caused a great intellectual ferment. Their full impact

was seen in the plans made by succeeding governments. Nehru, the first

prime minister of India, was a disciple of the Fabians. Five Year Plans

of India or Pakistan declared that their goal was the welfare state. .They

wanted to be socialists in the British manner.

Unlike Lenin or Mao, the British socialists had never lived with

peasants. Consequently Fabian thinking about rural problems was not very

profound. They thought that rural conditions could easily be improved by

three measures: first, the implementation of agrarian reforms to remove

palpable inequities, redistribute land, and impose ceilings on ownership;

second, the formation of cooperatives to prevent exploitation by middlemen

and moneylenders; third, the rapid expansion of education, health and

other welfare services to raise the rural standard of living. Later, when

the succeeding governments tried to implement these measures, two serious

faults were found: efforts to curb privileges were too often thwarted by

the privileged; and expansion of welfare services was rarely matched by

expansion in production. The superstructure of the pseudo-socialist,

imitation welfare states was raised precariously on good intentions.

4.3 Rural socialism in Russia and China--its influence

The Russian revolution presented a new vision of rural areas

unencumbered by the ancient oppressors--emperors, aristocrats, landlords,

merchants, and moneylenders. When Lenin redistributed land among the

Russian muzhikss" (peasants) he thought that the example would quickly

inspire the Indian "kisans" (peasants) to protest for their rights. He

also knew that, contrary to the predictions of Marx, it would not be

the well-fed workers of industrial nations, but the hungry colonial

peasants who would carry the banners of proletarian revolutions. And,

indeed, in the wake of the first world war rural unrest spread in

China, India, Burma, Indochina, and Java not uninfluenced by the occur-

rences in Russia. However, the horrors of Stalinist collectivization

diminished the rural appeal of socialist parties. After the second

world war the Chinese revolution refurbished the vision of rural

socialism. The inequity, poverty, and humiliation which the Chinese

peasants had suffered resembled the plight of peasants in many other

Asian and African countries. Thus, the epoch-making changes in China

could not escape their notice.


Soon after the second world war colonial empires crumbled and

foreign rulers departed, leaving the unfinished task of rural develop-

ment to their successors. The old problems remained unsolved, compli-

cated, and formidable. For the new states, putting their topsy-turvy

house in order proved even more difficult than regaining independence.

The world was now divided into conflicting camps. China, the largest

of the poverty-stricken, backward countries, joined the Socialist camp.

India and most other ex-colonies joined the "American" camp. They

built on their colonial foundations and retained, almost unchanged,

their political, economic, and administrative heritage. They made

gradual reform, not revolution, their motto and maintained intimate

relations with their old masters. During the fifties there was much

talk about the whole world watching an exciting race between the two

shabby giants, India and China. At that time, most American experts

believed that liberal India, aided by rich nations, would surge ahead,

leaving radical and unaided China floundering in distress and disorder.

Today the great race or its outcome is rarely mentioned.


From 1950 onwards America was the undisputed leader of the "free

world" camp. The leader was determined to restrain, by hot or cold war,

the expansion of radicalism, and to bolster client nations. First

Western Europe and Japan were rehabilitated so that their prosperity and

progress might serve as bulwarks against revolutions. The Marshall Plan

spectacularly vindicated American leadership. It seemed obvious that a

helping hand could be extended in the same manner to the poorer camp

followers, and American assistance could stabilize ex-colonial states as

it had stabilized Western Europe and Japan. The great leader started

aid programs all around the world. Apart from military aid, material

aid was given in the shape of loans, grants, capital, and consumer goods.

Technical aid was provided in the form of experts, advisors, and foreign

training. And ideological aid flowed in through the dissemination of

orthodox economic and sociological wisdom. In the new dawn of the fifties

rulers of many penurious states regarded America hopefully as the good

fairy and foreign aid as a magic wand.

6.1 American rural programs--community development

In this decade two great rural programs were sponsored by the

Americans--community development (CD) and agricultural extension (AE).

The former was newly fashioned by American sociologists, while the latter

was an old product of the American land-grant colleges. Both CD and AE

were generously supported and carefully supervised by American advisors.

The CD program as a synthesizer easily absorbed elements of colonial

rural reconstruction as well as Gandhian constructive work. But, of course,

CD professed to be far more modern and comprehensive. It promised political

peace by including everyone in a harmonious community and putting an end to

conflicts. It promised economic prosperity by inculcating the desire for

development and by securing common participation. As a weapon of the Cold

War, CD offered the quietism of consensus as a superior alternative to

turbulent radicalism.

6.2 Principles and methods of community development

Brayne wanted to uplift the villagers by sending an official guide-

philosopher-friend. Gandhi wanted to do that by sending a constructive

worker. Following in the footsteps of Brayne and Gandhi, CD relied mainly

on a government village-level worker (VLW) as the agent of change. Sending

a missionary outsider was considered essential in every case. The VLW,

like Brayne's guide, was advised to collaborate closely with the local gentry,

the established or "natural" leaders. Evidently, the VLW came to help

everybody, not by fighting for the weak against the strong, but by uniting

all of them, weak and strong, into a fraternal community. Surely all

could join hands for the sake of development. Love of development, like the

love of God, should make the lions fondle the sheep. The VLW, acting as a

catalyst, would unite the villagers by discovering for them their common

needs, felt or unfelt. Then he would lead them to a common endeavor. He

would teach them to form councils and committees for the completion of

projects. Much, of course, would be done by means of self-help, as Brayne

had proposed before, but, now and then, the VLW would further encourage and

stimulate the villagers by obtaining for them matching grants and technical

assistance, just as the Americans were stimulating the client governments

with foreign aid. The VLW would be a multipurpose agent representing all

"nation-building" departments. He would combine the functions of a

missionary, organizer, technician, and patron. Community development

aspired to coordinate the activities of other departments, and follow an

integrated approach. Its vision of development included the improvement

of everything: social harmony, economic production, education, health,

and recreation.

6.3 Shortcomings of community development

It was in India that CD first became a great rural program. Then,

under American auspices, it was introduced in dozens of other countries.

In the fifties it became a world-wide movement. But its decline was as

sudden as its rise. In 1964 U.S. AID abolished its CD division and forgot

the name itself. The initial faith in CD and the subsequent disillusion

is best illustrated in the speeches from 1950 to 1958 of Prime Minister

Nehru. Careful analysts found that CD had four crucial imperfections:

(A) It promoted welfare activities more effectively than
productive activities. Particularly, it seemed in-
capable of solving the national food crisis.

(B) CD did not succeed significantly in forming harmonious
communities. It did not secure general participation.
The poorer classes remained as they were, apathetic and

(C) CD's reliance on its own agents and total collaboration
with established leaders further confirmed the elitist
and paternalist bias, a colonial heritage, and inhibited
the growth of true local initiative.

(D) CD's role as a generalist captain and coordinator was not
acceptable to the specialist departments. Agricultural
experts especially complained about the inadequacy of a
multipurpose VLW as their agent.

In India, after a decade of great faith and enormous investment in CD as

the best strategy for rural development, the emphasis suddenly shifted

to modernizing agriculture, building of rural institutions, panchayats,

cooperatives, and land reforms. Community development was quietly

abandoned by both parents, America and India.


Colonial rulers had left behind the three perennial problems:

scarcity, disparity, and disaffection. They had also left legacies of

solutions: agricultural "demonstration and propaganda" to counteract

scarcity, cooperatives and tenancy reforms to check disparity, local

government to redress disaffection, and finally a philosophy and tech-

nique of rural reconstruction. From 1950 to 1970 in India, the three

problems persisted, but there were fluctuations in their pressures like

an intermittent fever. The old solutions persisted too, only slightly

altered by external influence. From time to time, in reaction to the

fluctuating pressures, policy-makers shifted from one solution to

another--to CD, to intensive agriculture, to panchayats and cooperatives,

to agrarian reform, and back again to integrated rural development.

These shifts, although slower and less pronounced, had begun to take

place in the last period of the empire.

7.1 Origin of the Department of Agriculture

In India the recurrence of famine was an important factor in dis-

crediting CD. Growing scarcity of food grains for the teeming millions

was an intolerable burden, upsetting national plans which were based on

import of capital goods, not food. It raised the cost of living and

violently agitated town dwellers and industrial workers. Food produc-

tion became a matter of utmost urgency. Agricultural experts were

called forth to be the standard bearers in the war against hunger and

save the nation from collapse. We may remember that the Department of

Agriculture was first set up in 1880, after a series of famines, and

according to the recommendation of a Royal Commission. The department's

functions were to collect statistics, set up training institutions, and

upgrade the skill of farmers by means of "demonstration and propaganda."

For several decades the department's performance was weak and marginal.

Its research was strongly biased in favor of cash crops exported to

England. Cheap food crops grown for local consumption were neglected.

Subsistence farming was practically unaffected by the department's efforts.

While scientific methods were raising yields in Europe or America, the

Indian peasants continued to follow traditional methods, and yields

remained stagnant. In fact, with further fragmentation of holdings,

cultivation of marginal lands, and general exhaustion of the soil, the

average yields even declined. Forty years later, in response to the

post-war rural depression, another commission was appointed to inquire

into the crisis in agriculture. The commissioners recommended that the

scope of research, education, and extension be adequately enlarged. They

extolled the achievements of American agriculture and presented it as a

model for emulation. This was perhaps their most significant suggestion.

The colonial administrators had imported, before the end of the nineteenth

century, the model of cooperatives from Germany and the model of local

government from England. It is a pity they delayed by several decades the

import of the American model of agriculture.

7.2 American model of agricultural extension

It was not until 1950, when the British were gone from India, that

the American model of agricultural extension (AE) really arrived. Then,

propagated by scores of American experts, and hundreds of native experts

trained in American universities, and supported by enormous funds, it soon

became a dominant influence. The experts assumed that Indian agriculture

could be modernized in the same way, though not to the same extent, as

American agriculture had been. First, research and extension should be

linked as was done long ago by the land-grant colleges. Then, a class of

progressive farmers should be created, who would gladly accept the findings

of scientific research, and put the new technology into practice. They

would soon emerge out of their subsistence-level cocoon, and try to maximize

their profits by raising the levels of input and output. An extension agent

or assistant, trained and guided by experts, should be sent to the village

to demonstrate new techniques, first to the local leaders. The demonstra-

tions would soon convince the villagers. Larger and larger numbers would

adopt the methods and within a few years traditional agriculture would be

modernized. Unfortunately the actual results were not so spectacular,

From 1950 to 1960 the adoption of improved methods was agonizingly slow.

In most regions subsistence farming remained very much the same. Exten-

sion experts blamed the stolid peasants for not accepting what was so

patently good for them. The Asiatic peasant, some experts complained,

was a fatalist, a nonachiever. He was not an "economic man." But more

cogent reasons can easily be discovered. Evidently, in these sluggish

regions, the infrastructure which supports commercial agriculture did not

exist. Neither did a potential class of commercial farmers. Destitute

cultivators of tiny holdings, constantly damaged by floods or droughts,

were not a promising clientele for extension agents. Besides, the agent

himself was often ill-trained and poorly supported by appropriate


7.3 The "green revolution" of the sixties

American-sponsored agricultural extension had started in 1950 as a

junior partner of CD, but the food crisis turned the tables. After 1960 CD

was demoted and AE became the senior partner. This was the time of the

invention of miracle seeds and the heavy use of chemical fertilizers.

Scientific cultivation of some crops--corn, wheat, and rice--was making a

remarkable advance. An agricultural revolution--"a green revolution"--

in the poor countries seemed not only possible but imminent. The high

hopes were fulfilled to a certain extent. A dramatic increase in the

production of wheat, rice, and corn did indeed take place, but not every-

where and not for everybody. It took place mostly in favorable regions,

where flood and dought were under control and where a sufficient number

of well-to-do farmers were present with enough enterprise and resources

to secure the extra inputs--seeds, fertilizers, credit, and machines.

For instance, the green revolution spread quickly in the Punjab because

that province already had the best irrigation system, and the largest

number of affluent farmers with economic holdings. On the other hand,

Bengal, afflicted by alternating flood and drought, and without many

economic holdings, lagged behind. By 1970 it was seen that the so-called

green revolution was a boon for favorable regions and favored classes, but

distressed regions and distressed classes could not reap its benefits

immediately. Even in the favorable regions, the new rural entrepreneurs

preferring maximum profits to traditional obligations, evicted old

tenants. If the emerging capitalist agriculture did increase productivity,

it also increased disparity and disaffection.

7.4 Safeguards against disaffection: colonial local government

The danger of popular disaffection was, as we have seen, recognized

by colonial administrators in the middle period. They often saw smoulder-

ing apathy burst into flames. As a remedial measure they tried to intro-

duce institutions which might give the alienated rural people feelings of

belonging. However, from 1880 to 1920 the efforts were more symbolic

than real. After the war came the challenge of widespread national agita-

tions. The administrators now gave priority to local government in order

to achieve three objectives: (a) turn the people from passive subjects to

active partners; (b) mobilize local resources, money, or labor, and to

assume major responsibility for rural reconstruction; (c) provide apprentice-

ship training for full self-government, an art presumably unknown to the

colonial people.

Unfortunately, as we have already noted, truly autonomous local

government was incompatible with fundamental imperial principles, and

therefore never became an integral part of rural administration. There

was too little decentralization or delegation of real power, and too much

domination by officials and their junior partners, the rural gentry.

Using the pretentious slogan of self-help there was too little allocation

of resources for the immense task of rural improvement, while the foreign

colonial connection and the concommitant urban bias continuously depressed

the rural areas.

7.5 Objectives and performance of post-colonial local government

In 1958 Indian evaluators of CD pointed out that the primary need of

rural areas was institutional. Instead of building a lot of "brick and

mortar" projects, as CD was doing, panchayats and cooperatives should be

organized or strengthened. Disappointed with American-sponsored CD, the

planners turned back to older traditions. The reasons for emphasizing

local government appeared more urgent than before. It was essential that

the rural people identify themselves with their government; otherwise

there would be instability. The rural people must assume responsibility

for planning and financing their own development; otherwise the central

government could to very little. Self-reliant local institutions

obviously were the best means for popular participation and general

mobilization. If the reasons were the same as before, unfortunately the

impediments also were the same. Colonial traditions of centralism,

elitism, and paternalism still prevailed. The administrative machine and

its manner of operation was almost unchanged. Not surprisingly, the

panchayats did not possess much vitality. On paper the design looked

magnificent. In reality it was still a facade. There was, as before,

too little decentralization and too much domination by official and

unofficial elites. There was still the same old urban bias in the

allocation of resources. After a decade the local councils secured only

nominal participation. There was no general mobilization of villagers

and their resources. Nehru admired the dynamic role of cooperatives and

communes in China, and expected similar performances from his local

bodies. But Nehru did not do what Mao had done to enforce rural autonomy,

to curb the elites, and to curtail the urban bias. Unlike the communes, the

role of "panchayats" (local councils) remained subordinate, secondary, and


7.6 Origin of cooperatives

Cooperatives, born in Western Europe around the middle of the

nineteenth century, were like the trade unions, a reaction against the

excessive power of rising capitalism. This excessive power threatened

to make laborers, peasants, and consumers helpless. When the dreams of

utopias or early socialist revolution faded away after 1848, they began

to adjust themselves to the capitalist system. The laborers started to

protect themselves through trade unions and the small farmers and

consumers through cooperatives. Trade unions and cooperatives, in the

course of time, became powerful and independent movements, but they did

not completely forget their anti-capitalist origin and maintained bonds of

mutual assistance with socialist parties. By the end of the nineteenth

century, cooperatives had greatly improved the condition of farmers in

Germany, Denmark, and Ireland. In the twentieth century, socialist states

of Eastern Europe and China, as well as Japan, Israel, and Taiwan, have

successfully used cooperatives for rural development. Because of their

peculiar constitution, cooperatives can coexist with both capitalism and


7.7 Colonial rural cooperatives: objectives and performance

British administrators had imported the concept of cooperation to

solve the problem of rural indebtedness. The Indian peasants were caught

in a vicious cycle. Their numbers were increasing while their holdings

were diminishing. The law of demand and supply was raising land rents,

while colonial trade was depressing crop prices. Low yields, low prices,

and high rents increased the need for credit. Again increased demand and

high risk raised the interest rates. Thus, a typical small proprietor

had a low income and large debts, and paid high rents and still higher

interest charges. He marched steadily towards bankruptcy until he finally

lost his land. On the other side, a typical merchant moneylender quickly

multiplied his assets. Colonial administrators thought that rural

cooperatives would break this vicious cycle. In each village the peasant

proprietors would unite for mutual help, acquire the habit of thrift, and

gradually accumulate their own capital. A thrifty group would become

credit-worthy and then would be able to borrow cheaply from a bank instead

of a usurer. The members would learn not only to save, but also to invest

wisely in better farming. Through cooperation they would escape from the

clutches of the moneylender. They would also escape from the middleman

by marketing their own produce jointly. Rural cooperatives, however, did

not perform in colonial India as they had done in Germany or Scandinavia.

Evidently the moneylenders, the middlemen, and the debt-ridden peasants

were symptoms of a diseased economy. The symptoms could not be cured by

credit unions unless the real causes were remedied. Colonial experts, who

were not critical of the imperial economic system, ascribed the failure

of the cooperatives to the noncooperative character of peasants. The

Asian peasants did not possess the Protestant ethic.

7.8 Progress of post-colonial rural cooperatives

Cooperation, as we have seen, had flourished briefly during the

boom years of the first world war and then collapsed in the following

slump. The second world war again brought better prices and more employ-

ment for the villagers. Inflation reduced the burden of old debts.

After independence there was a spectacular expansion of the cooperative

movement. A greater amount of funds were allocated for rural credit.

Moneylenders and merchants could no longer exercise their old monopoly.

They now faced some institutional competition. In countries where they

were immigrant proteges of the colonial power, they were forcibly

suppressed. However, the rural cooperatives, while spreading widely,

showed some serious shortcomings. One expert called the Indian cooper-

ative movement a colossus with clay feet. Originally cooperatives were

designed to ensure both production and equity and to turn the backward

into progressives and the weak into strong. Colonial cooperatives did

not achieve these objectives. They could not break the vicious cycle.

Post-colonial cooperatives are bigger and better supported by the govern-

ment than their predecessors, but, as yet, it cannot be claimed that rural

cooperatives have succeeded, widely and substantially, in performing the

productive as well as the protective function. Of course, there are

islands of success. But, on the whole, rural areas are not being trans-

formed by cooperatives. The rapidly growing proletariat of sharecroppers

and landless laborers are not involved. Very few significant attempts are

being made to organize cooperative agriculture for peasant proprietors.

Colonial cooperatives tried to compete with the old merchant moneylenders.

Post-colonial cooperatives are competing, in the same feeble manner, with

the new rural entrepreneurs. For the present, rural capitalism, not

cooperation, is on the rise.

7.9 The problem of land tenure--two views

In the nineteenth century the land question troubled all the three

Asian empires--Indian, Chinese, and Russian. In the twentieth century it

contributed to their fall. Contemporary revolutions, contrary to the pre-

dictions of Marx, have been nurtured in rural areas. Probably future

Asian or African revolutions will also have rural roots. Socialists

believe that there can be no development without a revolution, that in

ex-colonial states a social transformation must precede technological

transformation, that the latter is impossible without the former. There

are some non-socialist experts, also, who think that grossly inequitable

ownership of land is definitely a hurdle in the way of progressive agri-

culture, a fetter on production. According to them, certain types of land

tenure generate and perpetuate rural poverty. More than a hundred years

ago there were some revenue officials of the empire who condemned the

Permanent Settlement, or the system of landlordism, as a regressive measure

in every respect. They advocated that all lands should be owned directly

by sturdy cultivators. More recently experts like Wolf Ladejensky kept

predicting, in the fifties and sixties, that in spite of CD, agriculture

extension, and cooperative credit, many Indian regions would not move

forward until the shackles of regressive land tenures were removed.

7.10 Agronomists and agrarian reform

American agronomists, however, have absolute faith in technology.

They think they can teach modern methods to every cultivator, big or

small, owner or sharecropper. Of course, they recommend some extra help

for the little fellows, in the shape of subsidized credit or fertilizer.

In response to the clamor about land tenures, agronomists claim that

their technology is neutral, not concerned with social structures. But,

in effect, the American model of agricultural extension is appropriate

for promoting commercial or capitalist agriculture. It succeeds quickly

where conditions are favorable, as we have seen in the case of the

Punjab. But there are other places where individual enterprise is too

severely handicapped. In these unfortunate areas the majority of culti-

vators must first have more secure rights and then be organized into

groups. Where holdings are very small and their owners are extremely

poor, mutual aid and cooperation is not only beneficial, but is, in fact,

essential. While private ownership can be retained, excessive disparities

must be curtailed, services and supplies must be pooled, credit and market-

ing must be conducted jointly, as has been done in Japan and Taiwan. These

remarkable models of nonsocialist agrarian reform evolved in the fifties,

but ex-colonial states have not yet been able to follow them successfully.

7.11 Post-colonial progress of land reforms

In the last two decades many land reform measures were introduced in

India and elsewhere. As a first step, the rural aristocracy, landlords,

and planters who had flourished under colonial rule were deprived of their

extraordinary privileges. Ceilings were imposed on ownership. Some land

was redistributed, but the growing numbers of tenants, sharecroppers, and

landless laborers have only partially benefited from these measures, and

the small proprietors have rarely been fully helped to modernize their

farming as in Taiwan. Land reform regulations, imperfect as they were, have

been further thwarted in two ways. First, the new ruling classes, though

less exclusive and more populist than their forerunners, still have a strong

elitist bias. Their concern for the rural poor is more rhetorical than

genuine. Hence, the enacted rules were easily evaded. Secondly, the model

of development that was being promoted under the inspiration of American

experts was that of capitalist agriculture. It not only offered a simple

and quick shortcut to increased production, but its emphasis on commercial-

ization and maximizing profits was very agreeable to the new rural elites.

However, as we have seen, capitalist agriculture distributes benefits

unevenly and aggravates disparity. Agrarian reforms in many ex-colonial

states have been enfeebled by lack of genuine sympathy and the confusion

of goals.

7.12 The colonial legacy of rural administration

Implementation of rural programs has generally been much weaker than

their planning. Often, in the field of operation, good policies have

been distorted, and expectations have not been fulfilled. For this gulf

between planning and implementation, the system of administration must be

held responsible. The system is a colonial legacy, originally designed

for establishing order and collecting land taxes. It had performed both

functions with a firm hand. For pacification and tax gathering, it had

demanded complete obedience and humble submission. It had ruthlessly

suppressed every potential center of defiance. It was highly centralized.

A small elite corps of district officers possessing overwhelming prestige

and power played the key role. The best of them saw themselves as fathers

or guardians and regarded their autocracy as pure benevolence. After

independence, certain changes took place in the system. The departments

were greatly enlarged. Under American influence new agencies and state

corporations were set up, but the expansions and innovations took place

mostly at the top. There was little change at the bottom. The district

remained, as before, the hub of rural administration, and the prestigious

district officer continued to be a magistrate and collector. As the

structural pattern of rural administration was not altered, it is not

surprising that the old attitudes which had built and operated it also

remained unaltered.

7.13 Attempts at reform of rural administration

Apart from the expansion of the "nation building" departments

(agriculture, education, health, etc.), three attempts were made to

reform the nature and approach of rural administration. The first

attempt was made by the colonial rural reconstruction (RR) movement,

the second by CD, and the third by the local government (LG) programs,

Colonial RR gave a new dimension to the district officer. Besides being

a magistrate and collector, he was to become the father of development,

the guide-philosopher-friend of the villagers. Obviously the RR reform

was confined to attitudes. On the one hand, it did not in the least inter-

fere with the paternalist framework. On the other hand, it brought

idealistic reinforcement. Thirty years later, CD pointed out the need for

a new orientation for administrators. It criticized them for the "law and

order" mentality. Development required much more than obedience and

submission from the people. It required active participation. This point

was further emphasized by the proponents of local government. They said

that the rural people and their resources could be mobilized only through

strong, self-managed, self-supporting local institutions. Government

departments should be synthesized with and work through these institutions.

CD and LG laid the foundation of a rural administrative infrastructure.

But, after five decades of expansion and reform, rural administration still

displays serious faults. It generally fails to deliver services and

supplies promptly and equitably. The failure is due partly in inadequate

resources, partly to an elitist bias, and partly to lack of coordination.

And rural administration generally fails to secure popular participation.

Traditional attitudes have prevented any synthesis with local institutions

or a real partnership with the people. The inhibiting influence of

paternalistic centralization, which prevailed in the past, has not yet


7.14 Neglect of rural areas--interior colonialism

Villages were economically depressed by the colonial connection and

further degraded by urban domination. It is said that the rural people

suffered from an exterior as well as an interior colonialism, and even

when the former went away, the latter stayed on. In the post-colonial

era the gulf between the cities and the villages, instead of being

bridged, has been widened. Urban bias has distorted national planning.

The villagers are mistreated economically and they are given only meager

and second-class welfare facilities. This discrimination is well

illustrated by the examples of rural education and health services.

Fewer and inferior schools or clinics and more illiteracy and ill health

are found in the villages. Such planning keeps the villages shabby and

miserable and consequently creates the intractable problem of the great

exodus from the villages to the cities. Migration to the cities physically

transfers the difficult rural problems and by concentration magnifies them.

It is the nemesis of rural neglect.

7.15 Problems of rural education and health

In the post-colonial era the Departments of Education and Health have

been enlarged and the scope of their activities extended considerably.

Compared to fifty years ago, death rates have declined and more children

are going to school. But, after twenty-five years, there is as much

disillusion with programs of rural education and rural health as with

other rural programs. At the present pace, it may take a hundred years to

wipe out illiteracy or reduce ill health. The orthodox systems are also

very costly. They place themselves beyond the reach of the rural poor.

In both systems the elitist and urban bias is apparent. Schools, it is

said, provide the best exit from the village. Fifty years ago, Gandhi

severely criticized the exclusiveness and anti-rural bias of colonial

education. He tried to invent an inexpensive, relevant, and practical

system of basic education which did not become popular or common. More

recently, experiments and suggestions are being made to find cheaper

and fewer rural alternatives to the slow-moving and capital-intensive

conventional systems. Nonformal education and extensive use of paramedics

are two examples. But the battle between these little Davids and the

orthodox Goliaths has not yet begun.


We have examined the progress of rural development in India. Let us

also glance briefly at the contemporary Chinese model. The basic problems

of scarcity, disparity, and disaffection were essentially similar in both

countries. But the Chinese communist leaders perceived the priorities in

a different manner. They were determined to put an end to both exterior and

interior colonialism. They considered the rural class structure and the dis-

parate ownership of land and capital as causes of poverty and as fetters on

production. They recognized clearly the damage done to the villages by

urban domination and a centralized bureaucracy. Rural reconstruction in

China, under communist leadership, passed through three stages. The first

stage began with peasant revolts and redistribution of land. The upper

classes of landlords and the rich gentry were abolished, but private owner-

ship of land was retained and small farmers were organized in mutual aid

teams. The second stage began with the assumption of sovereign power.

The goal of a complete social and technological transformation was clearly

defined. The first step towards socialist agriculture was to organize

cooperative or semi-socialist agriculture, a halfway house. The mutual aid

teams were combined into cooperatives, first small and then large, and land and

implements were pooled. The third stage came next with the transition to

socialist agriculture, and the organization of communes, brigades, and

teams. All means of production were now owned collectively and the rural

people were ready for technological progress.

8.1 Organizing socialist agriculture

Socialist agriculture can have as many problems as, or even more problems

than, the capitalist agriculture. The Chinese were travelling a rough and hard
road. But fortunately the leaders were wise and they had learned three

important lessons from the terrible Russian example. First, agriculture

was given equal priority with industry. Secondly, instead of complete

central control, autonomous and compact rural institutions were built

extensively. Thirdly, within the collective system, extremely ingenious

and flexible adjustments were made, which provided incentives for higher

production to communes, teams, and individual members. Above all, the

rural areas received far more favorable economic, political, and social

treatment, and urban domination was greatly reduced. Now, after two

decades, although the Chinese villagers are still poor, the fearful

pressures of scarcity, disparity, and disaffection are diminished. It

seems that the vicious cycle of privilege and poverty has been broken.

Few experts can claim that the same has happened as yet in India.

8.2 Securing popular participation and mobilization

Planners in India always recognized the crucial importance of

popular participation and mobilization, but they were frustrated by

their administrative systems. On the other hand, the success of the

Chinese planners in achieving these objectives was remarkable. Their

concern for local organization and local initiative was genuine. Instead of

a superior, patronizing attitude, the Chinese leaders had great faith in

the common sense, fortitude, and courage of the peasant. Truly autonomous

and powerful institutions, cooperatives, and communes, which by involving

the masses, harnessed their stupendous energy were built. On the foundation

of this faith organization was accompanied by intensive social and technical

training. "Organize and educate" summed up in a slogan the Chinese method

of rural uplift. This method, in spirit as well as in form, differed from

the Indian method, which was deeply influenced by the conceptual legacies

of the colonial past. The Chinese central government did not appoint village-

level workers or extension agents to guide and control the villagers, or

stimulate them with favors or grants. Under the Chinese system of training,

the workers or leaders, technical or organizational, sprung up from the groups

and were selected and controlled by their groups. And, to a great extent,

the groups became self-reliant, managing and mobilizing their own resources.

8.3 Priority of rural works

One striking difference between the Indian and Chinese attempts to

increase agricultural production was the role of rural public works.

Unlike the Indians, the Chinese gave it the highest priority. The Chinese

perceived clearly that without constructing a proper infrastructure--

embankments, drainage, irrigation, afforestation, terracing, roads--

cultivation would be restricted and yields would remain low and uncertain.

Agricultural progress would take place in areas where land was developed

and risks were reduced. Rural works would pave the way for progressive

agriculture. Hence, the villagers were mobilized everywhere to improve

the physical land and water environment, which had been badly neglected

during two hundred years of decline and anarchy. The institution of the

commune made possible an immense yet widely scattered mobilization.

Chinese leaders had also given high priority to solving the problem of rural

unemployment. They realized that traditional agriculture, restricted and

risky, could not provide enough work, especially when there was too little

land and too many people. But the idle, surplus manpower could be

immediately engaged in rural works, which would soon enlarge the scope for

intensive farming, and permanently increase the demand for more employment.

Indian planners did not definitely apprehend the interdependence of, and

the linkage between, rural works, institutional organization, intensive

farming, and control of rural unemployment.


In colonial times as well as recently, some rural regions have attained,

by means of special projects, a level of prosperity higher than the commonly

prevailing level in that country. Two famous examples under the British

Empire were the Canal Colonies in the Punjab and the Gezira Scheme in Sudan.

The Canal Colonies turned the Punjab into the granary of India. First, the

infrastructure of irrigation, roads, and market towns was built and arid

lands were made fertile, or, in Chinese terms, the base for a progressive

and stable agriculture was established. Then, settlers were carefully

selected and given good-sized holdings (minimum of 12-1/2 acres), and

better welfare services than they had previously. Within a decade the new

settlers became remarkably productive and affluent farmers. A flourishing

agriculture encouraged the growth of rural industries. In spite of the

subsequent increase in population and the fragmentation of holdings, rural

Punjab has, ever since, maintained its progressive lead.

Like the Canal Colonies, the Gezira Scheme also began with the

settlement of newly irrigated lands. But here, furthermore, a British

Commercial Syndicate assumed an important management function. It

financed and strictly supervised the cultivation of cotton by the settlers,

and bought, processed, and exported the entire crop to England. With

substantial holdings, adequate credit, extension guidance, and efficient

marketing, the first generation of Gezira farmers soon became wealthier

than their compatriots elsewhere. Later, their prosperity declined when

their families multiplied and the prices of cotton slumped.

9.1 Imitations of the TVA model

Many ex-colonial countries started settlement programs similar to

the Canal Colonies or the Gezira Scheme. In the fifties, another model,

regional development modeled after the TVA, became very influential. The

American TVA model twenty years earlier had spectacularly improved a

depressed area by controlling floods and rebuilding the physical environ-

ment. TVA was also famous for a coordinated approach, for combining

physical engineering with human (social or institutional) engineering.

Many poor countries eagerly adopted the TVA model for their hydro-electric

projects. These projects succeeded, more or less, in controlling floods

and generating electricity. But the comprehensiveness of the original

could hardly be reproduced by the imitators. The TVA could draw upon the

enormous resources of a great nation. Through tourism and migration the

small, impoverished region could easily be integrated with a vast, affluent,

continental economy. Neither of these crucial supports was available to

the imitators in poor countries.

9.2 Pilot projects of the sixties--Comilla, Puebla, and CADU

For a few years, in the sixties, three pilot projects attracted the

attention of international experts. These were the Comilla Projects in

Bangladesh, Puebla in Mexico, and CADU Project in Ethiopia.1 The Comilla

project was sponsored by a training academy. It tried, through prolonged

action research in a large experimental administrative unit, to evolve

viable models which could be replicated in the whole country. Over a

decade four Comilla models were actually replicated and are still being

followed in Bangladesh, namely, an improved system: (1) of local govern-

ment; (2) of small farmers cooperatives; (3) of comprehensive rural works;

(4) and of extension training of and through group representatives. The

Comilla approach emphasized the importance of local institutions and

rural works and insisted that these were essential foundations for a

progressive agriculture. Unfortunately, the villagers were willing to

accept this approach more eagerly than political leaders, administrators,

and extension experts.

The Puebla project was designed to modernize as quickly as possible

the growing of corn by medium and small farmers. An area with favorable

physical and social conditions was chosen and ample extension advice and

inputs were provided. The farmers responded by rapidly adopting the

profferred technology and increasing their yields.

CADU was set up under Swedish supervision in a fertile region in

Ethiopia. Large investments were made in extension, credit, marketing, and

ICADU refers to the rural development project which was launched in
1967 with substantial assistance from the Swedish International Development
Aurhority (SIDA) Province. CADU refers to the Chilalo Agricultural Develop-
ment Unit in Arruse Province. For background on CADU see Nekby (1970) and
Tesfai Tecle (1975).

roads. The project aimed to promote both production and equity. According

to the evaluations made by the Swedes, the project soon succeeded in raising

production and the standard of farming. But the Swedes were less satisfied

about the equity aspects of the project. In fact, they found that the advent

of commercial farming, by eroding traditional bonds, worsens the position of

sharecroppers. CADU was precariously dependent on foreign assistance.

The encouraging results obtained in settlement schemes, river valley

projects, or pilot projects highlight the potential for development. They

also specify the preliminary conditions which must be fulfilled to start the



We have surveyed broadly a century of rural development in India. Our

bird's eye view showed the emergence, in the final decade of the last

century, of a number of profound rural problems. We described how these

problems were perceived by colonial administrators and what solutions were

advanced by them. Then, early in our century, came a decade of war and

revolutions. It was followed by two decades of colonial rural construction,

which was ended abruptly by another decade of war and revolutions. At the

end of the war the world was divided into two camps. In the nonsocialist

camp, joined by India, American influence intermingled with colonial

traditions. The fifties may be called the American decade of community

development and agriculture extension. The next decade saw the culmination

of American influence, along with a return to older traditions. This was

the decade of the "green revolution," and institutional and agrarian

reforms. Concurrently, in the socialist camp, the Chinese model of rural

reconstruction was fully fashioned. At present, in the seventies, the two

fallen Asian giants, India and China, are standing on their own feet, and

marching along two parallel roads to development. Evidently, for both this

is a decade of consolidation. Although both are eagerly absorbing western

science and technology, neither desires her rural efforts to be guided or

supervised by foreign experts. China freed herself from foreign tutors in

the fifties and India is doing the same in the seventies. We can say that

twenty-five years after the end of the colonial era, there are before us two

major models of rural development. On one side is the Indian model which

can be fairly described as a shabby, genteel, rural capitalism--disparate,

anarchical, and unstable, full of rewards and profits for the rich and

strong, but also full of distress and despair for the weak and poor. On

the other side is the Chinese model--a rural socialism, drab, austere, and

harsh, but extremely organized and disciplined like a human hive.

10.1 A decade of reconsideration for American experts

For American development experts the seventies has become a decade of

reconsideration. Twenty years ago, encouraged by the success of the

Marshall Plan, they had confidently believed that other indigent client

countries could also be rehabilitated in the same way, if not to the same

extent. Economists, sociologists, and agronomists came forward to master-

mind assistance to the recently emancipated slave nations, now politely

called the less developed countries (LDCs). The stages of economic growth

were mapped out for the LDCs. By substantially increasing capital

investments and managerial skills, both of which could be initially

borrowed from America, the LDCs should quickly increase their GNP. When

the cake would become bigger, everyone would have a larger slice, or when

wealth became abundant, it would trickle down everywhere. While the

economists pointed out this straightforward road to development, the

sociologists propounded ingenious ways of manipulating, motivating, and

mobilizing the rural people. The agronomists suggested that low-yielding

traditional agriculture, which gave only beggarly returns, should, by

demonstrations and incentives, be transformed into opulent modern agri-

culture. After guiding the performance of client LDCs for two decades,

the development experts were disappointed. Poor and uneven progress has

especially discredited the economic planners. In most LDCs, in spite of

American aid, even when growth did take place, it was pathetically small,

and decidedly it did not trickle down. In the seventies, the bright old

confidence has evaporated, leaving in its place dark doubts and the agony

of reappraisal. There is now a gnawing concern about the distribution of

the benefits of development. It almost seems as if American donors are

about to make social justice a categorical imperative for the LDCs who

are recipients of aid. As Keynes said, "We are all socialists now."

10.2 Reorientation of American aid--new ends

Disillusion with the past, and desire for a new orientation, a turning

point, is seen clearly in the recent speeches of the World Bank's President

and the policy directives of U.S. AID. They ruefully admit that too often

development in the LDCs has not benefited their poorer classes. After a

quarter century of aid, sixty percent of the LDCs population continues to

live in "relative poverty," and forty percent in "absolute poverty." And

the majority of the relative and absolutely poor live in the rural areas.

Amends must now be made for past neglect. Henceforth, the primary purpose

of development programs, or aid projects, should be to help the poor in

general, and the rural poor in particular. Much greater investment should

be made in rural development, and special attention should be paid to the

interests of the poorer sections of the rural population--subsistence

cultivators and the landless laborers. Rural programs should be carefully

designed to reach and serve these "target groups."

10.3 No change in means and methods

Of course, everyone should applaud the new poverty and target groups

orientation. But it is, as yet, little more than a declaration of intent.

Another decade must pass before the results can be judged. Until now, apart

from the rhetoric, no significant changes are perceptible in the operational

methods, in the means to achieve the end. If carefully analyzed, the new

programs for the improvement of peasant farmers, or landless laborers, are

not so very different from the old programs. To serve the small farmers,

the old orthodox extension approach is proposed, which relies mainly on a

government agent to deliver techniques, credit, and fertilizers. Rural

works for the benefit of laborers resemble the old paternalist relief programs.

And "integrated rural development" goes only a little further than good old


10.4 The dilemma of American advisors

American advisors face a dilemma when they champion the uplift of the

rural poor in LDCs where the ruling elites are not genuinely interested in it.

Of course, food or money can be brought from America for temporary relief

of hunger or distress. The hungry can be fed and the naked can be clothed

for a short time. But to engineer a permanent change in the status of the

downtrodden poor is a different matter. Rural poverty is not simply due

to lack of funds or of technology. Frequently the rural depressors are

built into the political or economic system. Sponsors of antipoverty

programs are assuming that foreign aid can be used as a lever to shift the

gears of an indifferent national government, reverse its urban bias, and

definitely turn it around toward rural development and the rural poor. The

next decade will tell us whether this was a realistic belief, or merely, in

the words of Samuel Johnson, an example of the triumph of hope over



I. General background on India

1. Bettleheim, Charles. 1968. India Independent. Trans. from French by
W.A. Caswell. New York: Monthly Review Press.

2. Spear, Percival. 1966. India, Pakistan and the West. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

3. 1965. Oxford History of India 1740-1947. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

4. Streeten, Paul and Michael Lipton. 1968. The Crisis of Indian
Planning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

II. Colonial and Post-Colonial Rural Situation

5. Bhatia, B.M. 1963. Famines in India, A Study in Some Aspects
of the Economic History of India 1860-1945. New
York: Asia Publishing House.

6. Darling, Sir Malcolm. 1947. The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity
and Debt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

7. Dumont, Rene. 1965. Lands Alive. Trans. from French by Suzanne
and Gilbert Sale. London: The Merlin Press.

8. Scott, J.C. 1977. The Moral Economy of the Peasant. New Haven:
Yale University Press.

9. Thorner, Alice and Daniel. 1962. Land and Labour in India.
New York: Asia Publishing House.

10. Wallerstein, Immanuel, ed. 1966. Social Change, The Colonial
Situation. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

III. Colonial Rural Reconstruction and Its Rivals

11. Brayne, F.L. 1946. Socrates in an Indian Village. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

12. Gurley, John G. 1976. Challengers to Capitalism. San
Francisco: San Francisco Book Company.

13. Mehta, Ved. 1976. Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles. New York:
Viking Press.

14. Namboodiripad, E.M.S. 1958. The Mahatma and the Ism.
New Dehli: Peoples Publishing House.

IV. American Development Leadership

15. Kuznets, Simon. 1959. Six Lectures on Economic Growth.
Glencoe: Free Press of Glencoe.

16. Lewis, John P. 1962. Quiet Crisis in India; Economic Develop-
ment and American Policy. Washington: The Brookings

17. Mason, Edward S. 1955. Promoting Economic Development:
the U.S. and Southern Asia. Claremont: Claremont College.

18. Millikan, Max and Donald Blackmer, eds. 1961. The Emerging
Nations: Their Growth and U.S. Policy. Boston: Little,
Brown & Company.

V. Community Development

19. Council of Social Development. 1966. Actions for Rural Change--
Readings in Community Development. New Delhi.

20. Ensminger, Douglas. 1972. Rural India in Transition. New
Delhi: All India Panchayat Parishad.

21. Hunter, Guy. 1969. Modernising Peasant Societies. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

VI. Agricultural Development

22. Asian Productivity Organization. 1973. Planning for Agricultural
Development: The Asian Experience. Toyko: Asian Productivity

23. Ford Foundation. Agricultural Production Team. 1959. Report
on India's Food Crisis and Steps to Meet It. New Delhi:
Issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Food and
Agriculture and Ministry of Community Development and

24. Hopper, David W. 1976. Food Production in India: A Perspective.
Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.

25. Hunter, Guy. 1970. The Administration of Agricultural Develop-
ment: Lessons from India. London: Oxford University Press.

VII. Local Self-Government and Cooperatives

26. India (Republic). Team for the Study of Community Projects and
National Extension Service, B. G. Mehta, leader. 1958.
Report. New Delhi: Government of India Press.

27. Thorner, Daniel.
Field Report.

1964. Agricultural Cooperatives in India: A
Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

28. Tinker, Hugh. 1954. The Foundations .of Local Self Government
in India, Pakistan and Burma. London: University of London,
Athlone Press.

29. United Nations Research Institute
"Rural Cooperatives as Agents
on Debate." Geneva: UNRISD.

on Social Development. 1975.
of Change--A Research Report

30. Uphoff, Norman and Milton Easman. 1974. Local Organization for
Rural Development--Analysis of Asian Experience. Ithaca:
Cornell Rural Development Committee.

VIII. Rural Administration and Rural Education

31. Braibanti, Ralph and Joseph Spengler, ed. 1963.
and Economic Development in India. Durham:

Duke University

32. Gorwala, A.D. 1951. "Report on Public Administration." New
Delhi: Government of India Press.

33. Streeten, Paul and Michael Lipton. 1968. The Crisis of Indian
Planning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

34. Ward, F. Champion, ed. 1974.
Reconsidered. New York:

Education and Development
Ford/Rockefeller Foundation.

IX. Chinese Model of Rural Development

35. Oksenberg, Michael, ed.
New York: Columbia

36. Stavis, Benedict. 1978.
in China. Ithaca:

1973. China's Development Experience.

Politics of Agricultural Mechanization
Cornell University Press.

1974. Making Green Revolution: The Politics of
Agricultural Development in China. Ithaca: Cornell Rural
Development Committee.

X. Special Projects

38. Gaitskell, Arthur. 1959. Gezira: A Story of Development in Sudan.
London: Faber & Faber.

39. Khan, A.H. 1974. "Reflections on the Comilla Rural Development
Projects." American Council on Education, Overseas Liaison
Committee, Washington, D.C.

40. Nekby, Bengt. 1971. CADU: An Ethiopian Experiment in Developing
Peasant Farming; a Summary of the Work of Chilalo Agricultural
Development Unit During the Period of the First Agreement,
1969-70. Stockholm: Prisma Publishers.

41. Tecle, Tesfai. 1975. "The Evolution of Alternative Rural Develop-
ment Strategies in Ethiopia: Implications for Employment and
Income Distribution." African Rural Employment Paper No. 12,
Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University,
East Lansing, Michigan.

XI. New Orientation of Foreign Assistance

42. Coombs, P.H. and M. Ahmad. 1974. Attacking Rural Poverty.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

43. McNamara, Robert S. 1973. One Hundred Countries, Two Billion
People: The Dimensions of Development. New York: Praeger.

44. Owens, Edgar and Robert Shaw. 1972. Development Reconsidered;
Bridging the Gap Between Government and People. Lexington:
Lexington Books.

45. World Bank. 1976. "Public Works Program in Developing Countries."
World Bank Paper 224. New York: World Bank.


Akhter Hameed Khan, "Ten Decades of Rural Development:
Lessons from India," 1978.

Lane E. Holdcroft, "The Rise and Fall of Community
Development in Developing Countries, 1950-65: A Critical
Analysis and an Annotated Bibliography," 1978.

Single copies of MSU Rural Development Papers may be obtained free by
writing to: MSU Rural Development Papers, Department of Agricultural
Economics, 206 International Center, Michigan State University, East
Lansing, Michigan 48824, U.S.A.

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