Current Infrastructure for Rural Technology Dissemination
India currently has one of the largest technical manpower pool in the world (approx.38 lakh as per 1991 census). About 25%of this manpower is engaged in technology/ research activities, 21% in administrative activities and 10 to 11% in design and development. Fundamental research accounts for only 2.6% of this total manpower.
Only about 6% of the total technical manpower is employed in agricultural and rural activities. Besides, most of the manpower at the grass root level responsible for technology dissemination are not fully qualified and these positions are also understaffed.
There has been a substantial achievement in education but the illiteracy in actual numbers have gone up. Almost 68% of the adults in rural areas are currently illiterate. This is despite the fact that 85% of all the educational institutes are located in rural areas. Non-formal education is being increasingly advocated. National Literacy Mission has ambitious programs of adult education and of covering 80 million people by 1995.
There are however, very few linkages for application of science and technology to rural development. One of the experiments being tried is in the form of Vigyan Ashrams wherein the youth are involved in scientific endeavours.
In training, there are several institutions in the country offering a wide range of training coursers, orientation work shops, refresher courses, diplomas, degrees and post graduate courses. There are advanced training centers set up in select State Agricultural Universities for subject matter areas. National Centre for Management of Agriculture Extension caters to training requirement of senior level managers. Regional rural technology centers have been set up in some of the areas for technology transfer to rural areas. Many States training institutions and community polytechnics exist for specialized training. There, however, exist very few training courses oriented towards attitudinal and behavioural changes among beneficiaries and functionaries.
In extension and demonstration, there is a fairly good infrastructure in the country for agricultural programs through T & V systems ad other research based extension systems. For technologies, other than agriculture, the extension and demonstration system need upgradation as well as specialized innovative thinking.
The current expenditure on S & T is Rs. 3,771/- crore (1988-89). In relation to the GNP it is only about 1% which is considered to be quite low compared to even other moderately developed countries. Regarding R & D infrastructure, there are two premier councils – ICAR and CSIR engaged in several R&D activities. This is followed by several central government institutions, universities and colleges, district rural development agencies, district industry centre, State S & T councils, and private industries who are also actively involved in R&D activities.
Voluntary agencies/NGOs at the grass root level also pay a key role in rural technology dissemination. By one estimate, there are about 10,000 NGOs in the country. The work of only a handful of them is, however known. CAPART is the apex agency coordinating the activities of voluntary agencies.
Recommended Action Plan for Technology Dissemination
The existing district set up with a weak planning machinery, multiplicity of agencies and lack of effective coordination needs revamping.
A very senior officer of the rank of Chief Secretary designated as Development Commissioner should be made in charge of development administration at the state level.
A post of District Development Commissioner (DDC) is proposed to look after the coordination for all developmental activities in the district.
Keeping in view the increasing technical content of various rural programs and lack of expertise in technology dissemination at the district level. It is proposed to create a position of Assistant Development Commissioner (ADC) – Technology Dissemination, in each district.
Considering the fact that the ultimate success of technology dissemination lies in the participation of beneficiaries and functionaries, the development of the HRD aspects assume great significance. A separate HRD cell is proposed in each district headed by a senior level official.
The status of the office of the Block Development officer should be upgraded. The Chief Executive of the block may be designated as Assistant Development Commissioner who should be a dynamic person with a background in training and management capability appropriate to the task of a leader of the team who will be in charge of all developmental functions in the block.
A separate technical cell is proposed to be created each block chaired by a senior technical officer functionally reporting to ADC (Technical) at the district level.
There is also an urgent need for rationalizing the deployment of functionaries at the district level and below.
Considering the task to be assigned to the various levels of administrative set up at the district level and below, the State Government may have to work out the staff requirements again.
Along with the establishment of the DC, a significant restructuring of the planning and implementation machinery at the district level should be effected. A district planning cell is recommended with suitable representation.
In order to improve local level participation and planning at the village level, it is proposed to create Village Planning Forums (VPF).
Rural technology planning will have to be integrated into the National Plans and into district planning.
To increase the efficiency of the planning and implementation process, the use of modern management instruments should be encouraged. A key element in the planning of technology will be to acknowledge the interest of all the parties that are either serving or are involved in project implementation. Back