ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rural Reforms in West Bengal

Bengal AS is described by Kristoffel Lieten ('For a New Debate on West Bengal', EPW, July 16), one has no option but to admit that the ongoing process of rural reforms in West Bengal has done quite well. However, it must also be recognised that in many cases corruption, nepotism, inefficiency have been rampant and the panchayat system has not resulted in a well-defined rural development trajectory but given rise to ad hoc spending of funds. What remains under-stressed is the necessity of matching the needs in terms of human resources. While it is possible to stretch the decentralised system to village levels (and is actually done), the process generates the need for human resources capable of managing different activities in an efficient manner. In order to develop an area, one has to plan for development projects, execute them, and then run and maintain the assets. They need different skills: managerial, contractual, accounting, and finally political. Practically nothing has been done over the years to develop or improve these qualities of the rural community. It is sad that even after 15 years, there is no sign of any change in the existing education system in order to cater for the recent needs. As a short- term measure, Block Development Offices (BDO) can be modified to some extent and one officer, can be entrusted with the task of providing the panchayats with technical help for formulating development plans.

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