India's Changing Villages: Human Factors in Community Development

India's Changing Villages: Human Factors in Community Development

India's Changing Villages: Human Factors in Community Development

India's Changing Villages: Human Factors in Community Development

Excerpt

WHEN INDIA ATTAINED independence in 1947, she found herself faced with many vital problems of economic and social reconstruction. The political division of the country had left numerous tangled questions unsolved, caused considerable bloodshed and rioting, and brought into the country a large number of uprooted people. Its large and growing population of about 357 million people lived in more than 550 separate states. Of these only seventeen had constituted British India and had been ruled directly by Britain, the others belonged to the feudal order and had been ruled by native princes who paid a tribute of 5 per cent of their gross income for British protection. The consolidation of the Union of India and the integration of these princely states was one of the major tasks before the country. The antiquated land system, with several intermediary tax collectors between the peasant and the government, was crying for reform.

Even more serious than these matters of national unity and of other reforms in the economic structure, were a number of problems that demanded immediate attention. India's position in regard to food was precarious. Memories of the terrible famine in Bengal were still fresh in the minds of the people. Notwithstanding the government sponsored Grow More Food campaign, there were near-famine conditions in many parts of the country, and threats of famine were present in many more areas. In the last six decades of British rule the Indian population had grown over 50 per cent, but the increase in cultivated land was only 1¿5 per cent. Shifts in agricultural production during war years, transfer of many important food producing areas to Pakistan as a result of partition, and a series of unprecedented natural calamities had aggravated the situation still further. Foreign food aid was welcome (and it did come in a fair measure when it was needed most), but the country could not count on it . . .

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