ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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NEW DELHI- Painless Rural Development

Painless Rural Development BM RURAL development is fast becoming a fashionable catchword not only with governments and political leaders but also with the corporate sector. The emphasis in this context is on rinding what are called 'approaches that work' lor rural development and uplift of the poor without disturbing property and social relations and by application of business management methods and sophisticated technologies. The conventional philanthropic attitude of helping the poor is no longer regarded as adequate. A more comprehensive approach is gaining; ground in influential circles among socially and economically powerful interest groups. The much-advertised International exposition of rural development' organised in New Delhi this month was a very interesting 'event', as the organisers called it, in this context, The event was sponsored by the Institute of Cultural Affairs International whose current chief is a former chief executive of the multinational company, Metal Box. and who had served its subsidiary in India. It managed to have as co-sponsors several international bodies under the aegis of the UN system as well as Agricultural Finance Corporation of India, Association of Indian Engineering Industries and the Canara Bank. It gathered 650 participants from 51 countries and several international organisations, among which the World Bank was very prominently and proudly mentioned. They discussed their 'approaches' in the lavish setting of the five-star deluxe Taj Palace hotel. The total cost of the exposition, the organisers estimated to be 6,20.000 dollars. The final achievement was the outline of a 'book* of the assembly which will be supported by an information system which, the organisers proudly claimed. included 'a computor data base', All very sophisticated indeed. very modern and very managerial. How exactly the exposition and its sponsors would be able to help uplift the poor of the world, especially of the Third World, got simply obfuscated by the torrent of management targon. charts and illustrations which befuddled even hard-boiled journalists who were invited to be brieled on the exposition at its start and conclusion, A closer look at the treatment of the problem of uplifting the rural poor and rural development generally at the exposition and the torrent of words that flowed key trends of rural development, approaches that work, grassroots initiatives, arenas of interest, dynamic interaction, and so on - would, however, give some clues as to what inspired the enterprise on such a lavish scale and at heavy cost. Asked whether the field-workers and consultants who gathered in New Delhi and also visited some 30 rural development projects as part of the exposition had anything to say about land reforms as the basis for uplift of the rural poor, the organisers quickly responded that they had "run into the problem of land reforms" during their work but had found it more worthwhile to encourage combined effort of landlords and the landless for rural development and this 'approach', they insisted, did indeed work. Exactly how and in what direction it really worked was not spelled out. Land reforms were not one of the 12 'arenas of interest' which the exposition dealt with, according to the organisers.

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