In this article, You will read Backward Area Planning – for UPSC IAS.
Backward Area Planning
- Backwardness is relative, multi-dimensional, and is based on perception. It differs in time, space and nature. Also, it refers to spatial as well as structural disparity. Due to the complexity, there is no unanimously accepted definition.
- Despite the government’s investments in development projects, free play of market forces favors the polarization of economic growth at certain favorable locations which results in regional inequalities in development.
- The backwardness of a place and that of the people living there get impacted upon each other. This is so because the people and places are interwoven in symbiotic relationships.
- India is among the few developing nations, which have started comprehensive development programs for their backward areas. Indian planning for area backwardness, growth with justice is one of the main objectives of planning in India. It promises the promotion of socio-economic upliftment of backward people on one hand and the development of resource potentials of backward areas, on the other. Hence, it involves both social and spatial justice. India is a vast country with a variety of landforms and ethnic groups. The interplay of people with the land has brought out different patterns of developments.
- Interestingly in the Indian perception, backwardness is associated with rural areas, while in reality, all backward areas are rural but all rural areas are not backward. Similarly, the majority of the population in a backward area comprises of backward people but all backward people are not found only in backward areas. It implies that in spatial coverage backward areas and backward people are not synonymous.
Identifying Backward Areas
- There are two broad approaches of operationalizing the concept:
- Problem area.
- The method of the Index-based approach rely on some overall index for ranking areas and treat all areas below some cut-off point as backward.
- The problem area-based approach identifies problem areas in different categories by specifying the constraints on development that can only be mitigated by special measures.
- Pande Committee (1969) emphasized broadly on the percentage of the population engaged in the industry while the Chakravarty Committee stressed on the percentage of the agricultural population, irrigated areas, net sown area and literacy for identifying the backward area. In India, both the approaches, Index-Based and Problem Area, have been adopted. The former was used for identifying industrially backward areas whereas the latter for drought-prone, desert, hill, etc.
- The areas identified as backward for the purpose of planning must have three characteristics:
- Potential for development
- Inhibiting factors preventing them from realizing their potential, and
- A need for special programmes to remove the bottlenecks.
- In the identification and demarcation of backward areas, the geographical unit needs to be defined. The quantitative data, for the units on the indicators chosen, must be available.
- During the 4th FYP, the Planning Commission appointed a study group, which studied a set of 15 parameters, and after statistically mapping these 15 parameters for the country, it identified 238 districts across India as backward.
Evolution Of Backward Area Planning in India
- Development of backward areas was always given emphasis even in the embryonic stage of Indian planning. The 1st FYP made allocations for the development of scarcity-prone areas.
- During the Second Plan, there was the establishment of large industrial complexes in mineral-rich backward areas resided in by the tribals in central India.
- The third plan (1961- 66) devoted a full chapter on balanced regional development.
- Fourth plan was the watershed period in the history of backward area planning in India. It initiated a two-pronged strategy viz. ‘target group’ and ‘target area’ programmes. The former was devised for the removal of social inequalities and the latter for tacking regional backwardness.
- The target groups identified during the fourth plan included small and marginal farmers, as well as agricultural labourers. Small Farmers Development Agency (SFDA) targeted the small farmers, households having landholdings of 2 hectares or less. Such households accounted for 52% of total rural households. Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Development Agency (MFAL) was formed to look after the interests of the marginal farmers and the agricultural labourers. The category of ‘target areas’ included the hill, border, drought-prone, and industrially backward areas. These programmes, conceived during the Fourth Plan (1969-74) were implemented mainly during the Fifth Plan (1974-79).
- In the sixth plan, no new programme of backward area development was started. In the 7th plan, Border Area Development Programme was started. After the 7th plan, no new programme related to of backward area has been initiated.
Chronology of Plans In India
Measures For Development of Backward Areas
- All parts of a country are not equally endowed with rich natural and human resources. Resource-rich areas leave behind their poor counterparts on the path of development. Gradually the gap widens and as a result disadvantaged places and people conscious of the widening gap, demand measures to mitigate disparity.
- Various governments gave numerous fiscal and other incentives for the development of agriculture, industries, transport, and social amenities in these areas such as:
- Grants for minor irrigation projects, cottage, and small industries; emphasis on roads and electricity development.
- Grant of higher development rebates to industries located in backward areas.
- Grant of exemption from income tax, including corporate tax for 5 years after providing the development rebate.
- Exemption from payment of import duties on plant and machinery, components, etc. imported by units set up in backward areas.
- Exemption from excise duties for a period of 5 years.
- Exemption from sales tax, both on raw materials and finished products to units set up in specified backward areas for a period of 5 years.
- Transport subsidy
- Industrial estates like Okhla (Delhi), Naini (Allahabad), Rajkot (Gujarat), Guindy and Vieudhunagar (TN), Kanpur, and Agra (UP), Palghat, Trivandrum etc. were established to encourage the growth of small scale industries.
- The concern for regional inequalities in development is a universal phenomenon. The theory and practice of backward area development is the outcome of this concern.
- India is one of the few developing nations to start development programmes for its backward areas. Since its inception, development planning in India has shown its concern for regional inequalities, yet the fourth plan is a landmark in this direction.
- A large majority of Area Development Programmes in India were identified during the 3rd and 4th plans and they become operative during the 5th plan. No such programme came into operation after the 7th plan.
- HADP was the first and Border Area Development was the last in the order of identification of areas of such programmes. Industrially Backward Area Development was the first to come into operation.
- The responsibility of implementing the area development programmes in India was with the Planning Commission. But after creation of NITI Ayog, their implementation lies on the part of NITI Ayog and respective ministries. Programmes for tribal and industrial development are under the administrative controls of the respective central ministries.
- The development programme differs widely in terms of their coverage, time duration, and pattern of financial assistance.
- In a large and diversified country like India, fundamental/physiographic backwardness is the most widespread. Hence, the majority of area development programmes have been launched for the restoration of ecological balances in areas such as drought-prone, desert, and hill areas. Economic backwardness is no less widespread, whereas social backwardness is confined to tribal pockets.
- The areal coverage of area development programmes differ widely. The largest areal coverage programme (industrial backwardness) was 17 times larger than the smallest one (border area). The former covers nearly 70% of the total area of the country, while the letter covers only 5%.
- Majority of area development programmes are in operation for more than 2 decades. The DPAP has completed a maximum of more than 37 years while the border area programme is only 23 years old.
- The area development programmes differ widely in terms of financial assistance. While there are 3 types of financial arrangements, the majority of programmes are centrally assisted. The border and the desert are fully financed by the centre, while the DPAP is shared amongst the centre and states on a 50-50 basis and on 90-10 basis in Special Category States.