NABARD - Rural Pulse XVIII - page 1

Department of Economic Analysis and Research
Rural Pulse
Issue - XVIII, Nov. - Dec. 2016
India is a large country and divided into states and districts for revenue and
development administration. Ever since planned development started, there has
been thought process to identify backward areas/districts and develop them with
focused attention. Accordingly, Government of India (GOI) has set up various
committees to identify backward areas. These committees have identified and
ranked different districts based on certain parameters. Over time, the parameters
have changed, depending on the needs of the society. This Rural Pulse made an
attempt to study the evolution of these parameters and highlight policy concerns.
Backward District Indicators - An Analysis
B V S Prasad
*General Manager, Department of Economic Analysis and Research, NABARD, Mumbai
District as a unit of development interventions
1. In India economic development is generally
analysed state wise. But the states in India are larger
than some of the countries in Europe and Asia. This
makes state level analysis not so effective in analysing
backwardness. This has necessitated the focus to
shift to district. Furthermore, district is a well-defined
administrative unit for taking up developmental
programmes effectively under the supervision of
District Collector.
Committees set up for classification of backward
2. Of course, the analysis of backwardness is relative
and there are many backward districts in the so called
developed states also. Similarly, even in backward
states, some districts fare well on development. There
are many reasons for backwardness despite uniform
policy of the government. This geographical dualism
of development and backwardness had led to regional
imbalance. The First Five Year Plan, recognised this
aspect even though the plan did not give emphasis on
the development of local resources. Even the Second
Five Year Plan also talked about “less developed areas”
and resource constraints it had, for planning for the
same. The Third Five Year Plan recognised the need
for balanced development and discussed this at length
and devoted a chapter on this subject. Further, India’s
planners, administrators and politicians paid adequate
attention to this issue and appointed various committees
1960 onward to study this phenomenon. These
include: Committee on Dispersal of Industries, 1960;
Patel Committee, 1964; Planning Commission Study
Group, 1966-1971; Pande Committee, 1968; Wanchoo
Committee, 1968; Sukhamoy Chakravarty Committee
on Backward Areas, 1972; National Committee on
Development of Backward Areas, 1978; Hyderabad
Karnataka Development Committee, 1981; Fact Finding
Committee on Regional Imbalances, 1983; Committee
for the Development of Backward Area, 1983 and E
A S Sarma Committee for identification of 100 most
Backward Districts, 1996. Simultaneously, Planning
Commission also undertook an elaborate study on
“Regional Variations in Social Development and Levels
of Living- A Study on Impact of Plan Programmes” –
1967. Each of these committees sought to study, identify
and recommend action on India’s most backward
districts. Besides these committees, there have been
some ad-hoc listings too of the worst districts like the
no-industries list of 1983, the Planning Commission’s
worst 100 list of 1997 or the rating done by the National
Commission on Population (NCP) in 2001, districts
for inclusion in programmes under Rashtriya Sama
Vikas Yojana (RSVY) /Backward Region Grant Fund
(BRGF), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Prime Minister’s Special
Package for Agri-Distressed districts, 2006, Expert
Group Report on Agricultural Indebtedness, 2007,
Report of the Committee on Financial Inclusion,
2008, Nachiket Mor Committee on Comprehensive
Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low
Income Households, 2013, Inclusix by CRISIL 2016,
etc., wherein districts have been ranked on different
parameters of backwardness.
Objectives of the Committees
3. Each of these committees has been set up with
specific objectives. Pande Committee and Wanchoo
Committee were formed (1968 and 1969, respectively)
to identify and recommend fiscal incentives for setting
up industries in the districts identified by Committee
on Dispersal of Industries, 1960. The committee had
identified 123 districts. The state wise analysis revealed
that 82 per cent of districts were drawn from4 states viz.,
Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
1 2,3,4
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