CREATING AWARENESS AMONG THE PEOPLE FOR DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
(This article was broadcasted through All India Radio, Jeypore on - 8.10 PM on 10.08.1986)
Since independence the government has launched many scheme on development activities emphasizing programmes to lower the gap between the rich and the poor and narrow the disparity between the have and the have-nots in an orderly systematic five year plans. We are now in the second year of the seventh five-year planning period i.e. 1986-87.
No doubt, India has progressed to a level to compete other developed nations in industrialization, agriculture, science, technology, and modernization. On the contrary majority of them are poverty striken, illiterates, ill health and powerless. It is a fact that, every year crores of money is spent in assisting the poor families in a view to improve their economic condition and eventually raise them form below the poverty line. The schemes like Integrated Rural Development Programme, National Rural Employment Programme, Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme, Drought Prone Areas Programme, Special Live stock Production Programme, Agricultural Development Programme, Training for Rural Youth for Self Employment, Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas, Primary Health Care, Rural Water Supply, Rural Road etc., are intended to supplement in assisting those families whoever unable to cross the poverty line during the previous plans and to take new beneficiaries in the current and consequent years.
One of the fundamental drawbacks of these developmental plans is the lack of awareness of rural reality by the planners and policy makers. The other drawbacks are-the recipients are never consulted what are their problems ands its root causes, lack of people's participation, decision making and people not being aware of the programme designed and not prepared to receive such development programmes. The development programmes are some times thrusted on the people, even that particular programme may not be the felt need of a family or the community for sake of coverage of the target aimed at in a time period.
Before drawing out development programmes, it is a prerequisite for every policy maker to know the people, their culture, familiar with their problems and a fair degree of knowledge of the social and cultural, economic political systems making the people poorer and poorer. The village social system is so complex and the cultural diversification eclipse the people, in accepting their own conditions without questioning the acceptance of their suffering without ever being conscious of their problem- a peaceful reconciliation. The values of life inherited and adopted totally make them immune to their suffering. Over ages, this kind of social and cultural life leaves the people beyond their capacity to correct and stabilize the systems to benefit them.
The village economic system is so neatly designed through unjust and exploitative means to keep the majority always poor and dependent. The economic system being basically feudal and individualistic, the improvement of the people form less to more only strengthens selfishness, appropriate of capital and perpetuation of exploitative systems. In other words the developmental activities, places these poor people in a very unfair competition with a few that have power of money and leadership.
Cast in a system where the rich and the powerful have the means to entice, threaten and enslave poor people do not permit development of the poor. In spite of democratic political representation, the people's problem remains unattended. It seems, even this weapon is moulded to fit into the exploitative and oppressive, social, economic and cultural systems of the country to make the people poorer.
The release of the poor from the clutches of the system through development activities may be possible for a period of time, but the freedom and independence cannot be sustained for long.
The present condition of the Indian rural economy needs no evidence of facts and statistics to say that poverty and ignorance have continued to be inseparable companions of the rural people. The benefits of the rural development programme, not to speak of the general development plans, have not percolated to the poor because of their backwardness. Hence, there is a need to have change in the overall system causing the perpetuation of backwardness through systematic exploitation.
Needless to say, most of the personnel's who are responsible to implement the programmes both the government and of the voluntary organizations belonging to socially and economically upper class also accept the legitimacy of the class system and not terribly bothered to understand the rural reality. This attitude leaves the schemes less effective to bring the lower class out of their misery.
It is prerogative and inevitable to identify those elements of backwardness and influencing factors of poverty before planning or undertaking a development programme. Therefore, it is impertinent to create awareness through an educational process to make the people to break the barriers of development created by caste, religion, cultural, traditions, and economic exploitation. And only then, the small, marginal and landless labourers could be delinked from their day to day dependence on the village landlords and the money lender. Very often, it becomes convenient to the poor to become a consumer by selling and mortgaging their productive units. The exploitative market forces and the temptations of happy and easy life for which the resource could be readily found from the village moneylender makes the people poor. This could easily set reverse process as soon as the strong motivation disappears. The aims of creating awareness should attempt to create and enable the families who are poor as a collective force to practice through productive exercise. The awareness should be able to consolidate new people's effort through an organization where each member is committed to see each member of the community of the village, does not back slide, but accept a new code of conduct benefiting the whole community.
Creating awareness through a new educational methodology is crucial for the liberation of the people form their own ignorance, lethargy and habits that play them straight into the village economic system of exploitation of the poor by the rich in the village. Mere provisions of economic aids for the people such as better cultivation, better houses, and the like will not ensure in the continuity of the progress achieved. Creating awareness should be built within the local community dynamics as a permanent measure in the leadership of the village. Hence, imparting education or creating awareness should give the poor the capacity to produce an income from the given capital, land and skill is the crux of development. Moreover, these productive units shall be well guarded against exploitation means and try to create an alternative of social, economic, cultural and political system thereby they do not pave the way for the rich to exploit nor create a situation to be exploited.
Therefore, creating awareness must be focused on a stronger element of self-reliance of the community. A type of self-sufficient production and distribution system in the village has to be created and the people should be able to operate that simple system, is the only guarantee of the long-term self-reliance and overall development.
Today, the development activities only attempt to assist an individual family and thus making them individualistic. This concept does not permit an overall development of the larger community. Finally, the awareness building should equip the people with a expertise to identify the problem the development process, to organize and question the systems making them poor and to undertake appropriate and relevant programmes to overcome such problems in attaining development.
Hence, creating awareness among people for development activities is crucial. Therefore, every one involved in development activity of the people should develop a sense of commitment to analyse genuine factors of underdevelopment. To highlight some of the problems for underdevelopment are as follows: -
- Unequal distribution of land
- Larger family with less productive units
- Division of land ownership
- Unable to protect land ownership
- Traditional land tenure systems - mortgage, tenancy, share cropping
- Lack of investment and productive assets
- Irregular employment opportunity
- Low wages
- Borrowing, money lending and higher rate of interest
- Repayment procedures
- Expenses on unnecessary needs (social and customary habits, merry making etc.)
Whatsoever development plans and activities are implemented without reference and awareness of the above-mentioned problems, the majority of the people can never be developed and it will only help the rich to become richer.
The development personnel before formulating any policies should ensure entry into the village and be accepted and gain confidence of the people. Always the developmental personnel do represent a cultural entity alien to the culture of the people. Hence, careful methodology and strategy should be adopted to make familiar himself with the people and enable them to believe that he/she has not come to disturb their life but to work along and share with them to remove their backwardness in the due course. This will enable and equip the development personnel to keep close touch with the poor and to know their problems in their day-to-day life.
Through individual contact, dialogue, group discussion and community meetings the personnel should acquire a fair degree of familiarity with the people and their culture, the needs and priorities and the awareness programme to be implemented.
The development personnel shall identify target groups and collect vital information's exercising positive discrimination in favour of the agricultural labourer, bonded labourer, tenant farmers, small and marginal farmers, non agricultural labourer, forest labourer, Unemployed (educated or other wise) women, artisans and the youth. The personnel should build bridges of trust and friendship with the target groups.
All these attempts culminate in the process of unification of like-minded people into an organization. The most important elements in the plan of the development programme shall be flexibility and open endedness. The methodology shall be subject to change in response to the needs and challenges of the village situation. No prefabricated ("house") shall be built scheme into the village development programmes.
The motivational pendulum of awareness which is round the clock should keep the people on the move of learning through their experiences, thus strengthen the capabilities of the people to enable themselves to draw out relevant strategies to the more organized and work in order to shift the SEP or cultural systems to their favor - to democratic, secular and socialist society. To communicate to the people possible means of communication methods shall be adopted taking into account the culture and tradition. Relevant messages shall be documented and disseminated to the poor and at one stage the people should be trained to communicate within themselves without any financial constraints.
Hence, the media has an important role to play in changing the lifes of the people through disseminating relevant information to the people that would help them to make their own destiny.