The Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was launched by the Janta government in 1978-1979, by bringing together the Community Area Development Programme (CADP), Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP), Sma6 Farmer Development Agency (SFDA), and Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers Agency (MFALA).
Integrated rural development is one of the important tasks before the Government of India. The National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) of the Central Government reiterates the cardinal importance of villages to the overall development of the country and commits to working towards the development of rural areas. The main objective of Integrated Rural Development is to eradicate poverty, hunger and unemployment from rural India. The integrated rural development programme was confined in the initial phase to 2000 blocks out of the then 5004 development blocks in the country. Through coverage under this programme, about 3000 blocks and over 5.45 lakh families have been assisted. It is a centrally sponsored scheme with funds shared on 50:50 basis between the Centre and the states. The programme was intended to generate gainful employment for all able-bodied persons in rural areas within a period of about ten years by introducing such schemes as would help the development of production potential of each area, and utilisation and upgrading of the human skills available. The aims of the programme are listed below:
- To provide assistance in self-employment opportunities.
- To give assistance to a target group of rural poor, belonging to the families below the poverty line, in the form of subsidy. The target group under IRDP includes labourers, artisans, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, sharecroppers, and marginal and small farmers.
- To take up measures for livestock and poultry development, fishery, and social forestry in the village.
- To promote cottage industries in the village to enhance the per capita income of the targeted group and to raise the standard of living of weaker sections of the rural population.
The main elements of the programme during the Sixth Five-Year Plan period were proposed to be as under:
- A five-year development profile will be drawn up for each district, disaggregated into blocks, based on practical (achievable) possibilities of development in agriculture and allied sectors. This will form the ‘framework of action’ for the relevant schemes of development in these sectors.
- A specific operational programme will be drawn up by the extension agency to provide guidance on a systematic basis to the small and marginal farmers’ families.
- A special programme of assistance to the poorest of the rural households will be drawn up to raise specific households so identified, above the poverty line.
- A blueprint for exploiting the available potential in the secondary and tertiary sectors, which also spells out linkages for training and marketing, will be prepared for each block, and families from the group identified for assistance based on such blueprint.
- The IRDP has been conceived essentially as an anti-poverty programme. This objective is proposed to be achieved by enabling the poorest families to acquire productive assets, technology and skills as would make their economic activities viable. These families will also need support from social services such as health, education, and housing.
The IRDP is implemented through District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) and Block Level Agencies at the grass-root level. The governing body of DRDAs includes local MPs. MLAs, Chairman of Zila-Parishad, Heads of District Development Departments, representatives of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, and women.
Some of the important integrated rural development programmes include National Rural Development Programme (NRDP), Minimum Needs Programme (MNP), Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM, 1979), Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA, 1982 ), and Indira Awaas Yojna (IAY. 1985), etc.
In 1999, the Government of India launched a restructured poverty alleviation programme for rural areas which replaced the IRDP and its allied schemes by the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY).
The programme was implemented through the Panchayat Samitis.
The main objectives of the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna are as under:
- A holistic programme covering all the aspects of self-employment such as the organisation of the poor into self-help groups, credit, training, technology, infrastructure, and marketing.
- To make every assisted family rise above the poverty line in three years.
- The income of the assisted families should be more than two thousand per month.
More than six lakh people (Swarozgaris) have been assisted till date, of which 30 per cent were from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 33 per cent women, and one per cent are handicapped.