Traditionally the backward area is an area where there is no industrial development. But the concept of backwardness itself has undergone change. In 1960s & 70s backwardness was measured on the basis of techno-economic parameters but contemporary definition of backwardness includes social and ecological aspects also.
The biggest challenge of backward area management is how to identify which are the backward areas for development. Even now we have not accepted the precise definition of the backwardness. But we understand that backwardness is a problem & India has lots of backward pockets.
The concern for regional growth and backward area development in the country found expression only in qualitative terms in the first phase of the planning period up to the mid-sixties. In the 1960s, planning commission recommended setting up of small scale industries board for encouraging industrial development in backward areas but the decisive efforts were initiated in 1968 when on the recommendation of National Development Council, 2 committees were set up for identifying backward areas and for addressing backwardness.
Pande Committee: to develop criteria and identify industrially backward districts in the country so that incentives for industrial development could be provided.
Wanchoo Committee: to suggest financial and fiscal incentives in order to remove the industrial backwardness. This Committee suggested a number of incentives like the excise subsidy, the transport subsidy, the concessional finance, the liberalized import and supply of scarce raw materials, etc.
All the parameters like per capita income, length of road, industrial workers, electricity, transport etc are primarily techno-economic in nature and there is an element of functional rigidity because it measures backwardness on the basis of industrial development.
Backwardness measured only in terms of industrial parameters, therefore may not be a valid concept today.
The criterion of per-capita income or its related versions as measures of backwardness/poverty do not reflect fully the variations in socio-economic, cultural, institutional, administrative and historical components of development.
Strategies followed under backward area development: Addressing backwardness was primarily about encouraging industries and industrial infrastructure. Backwardness therefore was sought to address under economic intervention and it took sometimes before backwardness was identified under the broader definition to include political, social and ecological backwardness.
The main strategies followed were:
1. Industrial Licensing Policy
2. The growth pole strategy
3. Rural industralisation under the cottage sector
4. Setting up industrial estate
One of the major reforms recommended in the industrial estates are to with labour laws where industries have increasingly demanded more liberal policies to the extent of hire and fire and also to limit the role of trade unions in these estates.
Backward area development in contemporary time:
• Backwardness is more holistically defined today and includes social backwardness like education, sex ratio, social exploitation like caste based exploitation and also agriculture related backwardness.
• The strategies of backward planning no longer include industrialisation based development alone. Agriculture based development is increasingly accepted as a valid strategy for agriculture resource rich regions.
• Non crop based agriculture & drought resistant agriculture are encouraged for addressing backwardness in areas of subsistence level farming in peninsular interiors.
• Most of the backward area development programs are now subsumed within rural development programs, agriculture modernization program, employment generation programs & poverty alleviation programs.
Some appreciation please!