The concept of integrated area development is difficult to define. It has different meanings and interpretations at different points of time. In fact, it is difficult to decide what type of integration should be sought and what ways should be adopted to accomplish it. In general, four aspects of integration can be differentiated.
1. Sectoral-cum-Temporal Integration
This is to ascertain what activities have to be developed when they should be developed, and what should be the pace and intensity of their development keeping in view the underlying linkages among various activities. They can be designated as sectoral-cum-temporal integration.
2. Spatial Integration
As there are linkages between various economic activities, similarly, there are linkages between different places which determine the pattern of flow of raw materials, people and goods in different areas.
3. Integration of Development of Individuals and Group of People
It has been found that the fruits of development tend to get concentrated in the hands of a few while a considerable majority of people continue to lead a miserably poor life. It is the task of integrated development to ensure that the benefits of development are conferred more on such poorer sections of society so that inter-personal disparities of income can be considerably brought down.
4. Integration of the Conflicting Goals of Socio-economic and Environmental Development
In a country like ours in which about 37 per cent of the total population is below the poverty line, and most of the people still have a low standard of living, the basic aim of development should be to develop the human resource by providing food, clothing, shelter, education, health facilities, and employment to all. While achieving these goals, the resources, ecology and environment should be kept in a healthy condition to sustain the present population and to protect the interest of the future generations.
The planning process can be considered satisfactory only when it pays due regard to all the aspects of integration discussed above. Our own planning efforts have failed to achieve the desired results in the socio-economic field, precisely because they did not address the need for integrated planning. Attention was concentrated on: (i) the sectoral-cum-temporal integration, and (ii) to some extent, on the development of individual groups. Unfortunately, for most of the planning period, we have tended to adopt a tentative, ad hoc and piecemeal approach, with the result that national planning has more or less by-passed large backward rural areas. It is in this overall context that one must view the widespread interest generated in recent years in India for adopting an integrated area development approach. Much emphasis on Integrated Rural Development was laid in the draft of the Sixth Five-Year Plan.