My Blog Women Empowerment and the activities of west Bengal Human Development Society


In the simplest of words it is basically the creation of an environment where women can make independent decisions on their personal development as well as shine as equals in society.

Women want to be treated as equals so much so that if a woman rises to the top of her field it should be a commonplace occurrence that draws nothing more than a raised eyebrow at the gender. This can only happen if there is a channelized route for the empowerment of women.

Thus it is no real surprise that women empowerment in India is a hotly discussed topic with no real solution looming in the horizon except to doubly redouble our efforts and continue to target the sources of all the violence and ill-will towards women.


There are several challenges that are currently plaguing the issues of women’s rights in India. A few of these challenges are presented below. While a lot of these are redundant and quite basic issues faced across the country, these are contributory causes to the overarching status of women in India. Targeting these issues will directly benefit the empowerment of women in India.


While the country has grown from leaps and bounds since its independence where education is concerned, the gap between women and men is severe. While 82.14% of adult men are educated, only 65.46% of adult women are known to be literate in India. Not only is an illiterate women at the mercy of her husband or father, she also does not know that this is not the way of life for women across the world. Additionally, the norms of culture that state that the man of the family is the be-all and end-all of family decisions is slowly spoiling the society of the country.

Data Source: Census of India 2011

As said in a study conducted by the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism,

In spite of the UN Charter of Human Rights and the provisions of the Indian Constitution, women continue to be victims of exploitation. The view that the future generation of a family is carried on and preserved by boys-only has degraded the position of women in society. Similarly, it is noticed that majority of the women are lacking in the spirit of rebellion. If careful attention is not paid and major steps are not taken, the situation will become extremely critical.

Eradicating this gap and educating women about their real place in the world is a step that will largely set this entire movement rolling down the hill to crash and break the wall of intolerance, negligence and exploitation.


Data Source: Wikipedia

About a third of the country’s population lives on less than 1.25USD per day. The GINI index keeps rising slowly over the years, indicating that the inequality in the distribution of wealth in the country is increasing, currently hovering a little close to 33.9.

Poverty is considered the greatest threat to peace in the world, and eradication of poverty should be a national goal as important as the eradication of illiteracy. Due to abject poverty, women are exploited as domestic helps and wives whose incomes are usurped by the man of the house. Additionally, sex slaves are a direct outcome of poverty, as unearthed by Davinder Kumar:-

Andhra Pradesh accounts for nearly half of all sex trafficking cases in India, the majority involving adolescent girls. According to police estimates, a shocking 300,000 women and girls have been trafficked for exploitative sex work from Andhra Pradesh; of these just 3,000 have been rescued so far.

The state is relatively prosperous, ranking fourth in terms of per capita GDP in India, but it is also home to some of the poorest people in the country.

If poverty were not a concern, then the girl child will be able to follow her dreams without concerns of sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and no education or work.


The health and safety concerns of women are paramount for the wellbeing of a country, and is an important factor in gauging the empowerment of women in a country. However there are alarming concerns where maternal healthcare is concerned.

In its 2009 report, UNICEF came up with shocking figures on the status of new mothers in India. The maternal mortality report of India stands at 301 per 1000, with as many as 78,000 women in India dying of childbirth complications in that year. Today, due to the burgeoning population of the country, that number is sure to have multiplied considerably. The main causes of maternal mortality are:-

  • Haemorrhage: 30%
  • Anaemia: 19%
  • Sepsis: 16%
  • Obstructed Labour: 10%
  • Abortion: 8%
  • Toxaemia: 8%

While there are several programmes that have been set into motion by the Government and several NGOs in the country, there is still a wide gap that exists between those under protection and those not.

Poverty and illiteracy add to these complications with local quacks giving ineffective and downright harmful remedies to problems that women have. The empowerment of women begins with a guarantee of their health and safety.



The United Nations Development Programme constituted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for ensuring equity and peace across the world. The third MDG is directly related to the empowerment of women in India. The MDGs are agreed-upon goals to reduce certain indicators of disparity across the world by the year 2015.

The third MDG is centred towards promoting gender equality and empowering women: “Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education by no later than 2015”

While India’s progress in this front has been brave, there are quite a few corners that it needs to cut before it can be called as being truly revolutionary in its quest for understanding what is women empowerment. As UNDP says:-

India missed the 2005 deadline of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education. However, the country has hastened progress and the Gender Parity Index (GPI) for Gross Enrolment Ratios (GER) in primary and secondary education has risen. Given current trends, India is moderately or almost nearly on track. However, as the Government of India MDG Report 2009 notes, “participation of women in employment and decision-making remains far less than that of men, and the disparity is not likely to be eliminated by 2015.” Achieving GPI in tertiary education also remains a challenge. In addition, the labour market openness to women in industry and services has only marginally increased from 13-18 percent between 1990-91 and 2004-05.


The Ministry for Women & Child Development was established as a department of the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the year 1985 to drive the holistic development of women and children in the country. In 2006 this department was given the status of a Ministry, with the powers to:-

Formulate plans, policies and programmes; enacts/ amends legislation, guiding and coordinating the efforts of both governmental and non-governmental organisations working in the field of Women and Child Development.

It delivers such initiatives such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) which is a package of services such as supplementary nutrition, health check-ups and immunisation. As mentioned earlier, the empowerment of women begins with their safety and health and this Ministry is committed to providing them.

Swayamsidha Programme

Additionally, the Ministry is also implementing the Swayamsidha programme – an integrated scheme for the empowerment of women at a total cost of Rs. 116.30 Crores. Core to this programme will be the establishment of women’s self-help groups which will empower women to have increased access to all kinds of resources that they are denied, in addition to increasing their awareness and skills. This programme will benefit about 9,30,000 women with the setting up of 53,000 self-help groups, 26,500 village societies and 650 block societies.

National Commission for Women

The National Commission for Women is a Department within the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up exclusively to help women via the Constitution – by reviewing Legal and Constitutional safeguards for women, recommending remedial legislative measures, by facilitating quick redressal of grievances and by advising the Government of India on all policy matters affecting women.

The website allows for online submission of complaints and fast redressal exclusively for women. Additionally it is also a good resource of information for women and the Commission is committed to helping out women in need.


India as a country is still recovering from years of abuse in the time of the Raj and more years of economic suffering at the hands of the License Raj. It is only now that globalisation, liberalisation and other socio-economic forces have given some respite to a large proportion of the population. However, there are still quite a few areas where women empowerment in India is largely lacking.

To truly understand what is women empowerment, there needs to be a sea-change in the mind-set of the people in the country. Not just the women themselves, but the men have to wake up to a world that is moving towards equality and equity. It is better that this is embraced earlier rather than later, for our own good.

Swami Vivekananda once said “arise away and stop not until the goal is reached”. Thus our country should thus be catapulted into the horizon of empowerment of women and revel in its glory.

We have a long way to go, but we will get there someday. We shall overcome.

Development Initiative In The Identified Backward Villages

in West Bengal

In the first West Bengal Human Development Report, 2004 it was observed that although on the whole the incidence of poverty in West Bengal has decreased over the years, yet there exists sharp inter- district disparities leading to alarming rates of rural poverty in some of the very backward districts like Purulia and Bankura. Other districts with high rates of rural poverty include Murshidabad and Jalpaiguri. Chapter 10 of the report unravels the fact that that the levels of human development tend to be the highest in the Greater Kolkata region and deteriorate in concentric circles according to the distance from this region. The chapter also draws the readers’ attention to the more specific instances of regional imbalances and problems some regions like Paschimanchal, North Bengal and Sundarbans which require particular attention. Even within a district the picture was not a uniform one. There existed grave inter- village disparities due to which the residents of some of the villages were largely deprived, measured by their low levels of economic progress and human development.

All these findings, however, brought forth certain common features that helped characterize the existing “vulnerable” zones within the state.

All of them are generally located in remote areas.

All those villages are generally small in size (and thereby having little voice as a whole).

  • They usually have a poor resource base like poor quality of soil or very little irrigation coverage.

They are not easily accessible.

They are predominantly inhabited by socially and economically weaker sections of the community especially by the SCs/STs or minority communities etc.

Infrastructural facilities in these areas are awefully inadequate.

Some of the villages have for long suffered very badly due to natural calamities like floods (as is the case of many villages in Murshidabad and Birbhum), shifting course of rivers (as in Malda and Murshidabad), droughts (as in Purulia) etc which took away the livelihood of the people.

In order to seriously address these inadequacies there began a quest for examining and understanding the notion of ‘vulnerability’ or ‘backwardness’ especially in the context of a village within the state.  This called for setting up of certain parameters in terms of the priorities on the basis of which ‘village vulnerability’ may be defined. Therefore, in keeping with the twin objectives of development administration, i.e. improving the income generation potential of the rural population together with improving the quality of life of the people, the vulnerability of a village was sought to be defined mainly in terms of: i) the extent of its susceptibility to hunger, and ii) the extent of its ability to access public facilities for improving the quality of life.

Towards the end of 2003 an attempt was made for the first time to rank all the blocks going by their existing human and financial resources. The idea was to improve the resource base and staff strength of those block machineries. But the difficulties in monitoring the implementation of various programmes coupled with the lack of collecting information on such a large scale led to a re-thinking on the issue. To ensure a certain degree of efforts, the block seemed too large a unit to achieve the desired levels of equity and balance in the development of the rural areas. In the light of such constraints, a need for narrowing down of targeted and focused interventions down to the village level was increasingly being felt. As a result, a number of methods were tried out to identify such villages based on the objective parameters of development for which data are available. After several rounds of trial and errors it was found that the best approximation to capture the nature and extent of poverty (in its complex and multiple dimensions) is to depend on female literacy and availability of employment opportunity. The latter has been assessed by taking the population who are non- workers and marginal workers as the proxy. Female literacy rate has been widely accepted in the recent development literature as an important proxy indicator of social development as it seeks to capture the degree of gender discrimination in rural societies. Similarly, there is an absence of a state- level rural employment data.

Therefore, to locate the areas where people in the lowest ranks of Human Development Index reside in West Bengal, various queries were run on the Census 2001 demographic data. The reliance on the 2001 Census data as the sole source of village- level information was mainly because of the fact that any attempt to measure poverty from field observation would have proved to be value- laden and subjective driven by narrow information- base of the local people and distorted by various biases. Added to it were the twin constraints of time and cost involved in undertaking an extensive field survey.

Based on these two broad parameters and certain criteria determined by the demographic and amenities data available from the digitized GIS (Geographical Information System) version of the 2001 census report, a total number of 4,612 revenue villages have been identified by the Panchayat and Rural Development Department, West Bengal in 2004 as being the most backward in the state. These identified backward villages are spread over 1140 Gram Panchayats (out of a total of 3354 GPs), and in 245 Blocks (out of a total of 341 Blocks) in the state. The district wise position is shown below:-

Sl. No. District Total No. of Villages as per Census 2001 No. of villages identified as Backward by P & RD DEPTT. % of Backward villages Total Population in Rural area Population of Back ward Villages % of population  in Backward Villages
1 Bankura 3830 569 14.86 2957447 280692 9.49
2 Burdwan 2529 55 2.17 4348466 28160 0.65
3 Birbhum 2478 218 8.8 2757002 165990 6.02
4 Dakshin dinajpur 1638 184 11.23 1306324 93874 7.19
5 Darjeeling 708 85 12.01 1088740 90214 8.29
6 Haora 734 4 0.54 2121109 4560 0.21
7 Hugli 1915 21 1.1 3354227 8136 0.24
8 Jalpaiguri 756 79 10.45 2794291 230939 8.26
9 Koch bihar 1204 26 2.16 2253537 18861 0.84
10 Malda 1799 602 33.46 3049528 782132 25.65
11 Purba medinipur 3038 9 0.3 4053924 1735 0.04
12 Paschim medinipur 8702 637 7.32 4573595 210407 4.60
13 Murshidabad 2210 242 10.95 5133835 459873 8.96
14 Nadia 1346 59 4.38 3625308 98672 2.72
15 North 24 parganas 1584 2 0.13 4083339 964 0.02
16 Puruliya 2683 994 37.05 2281090 852062 37.35
17 South 24 parganas 2140 66 3.08 5820469 78355 1.35
18 Uttar dinajpur 1508 760 50.53 2147351 1160647 54.05
  TOTAL 40802 4612 11.30 57749582 4566273 7.91

All of these villages, as noted above, meet the following two criteria/ conditions:

  1. Over 60% of the population belonging to the working age group are either with no work or are marginal workers.
  2. Over 70% of the females are illiterate.

However, the idea of limiting the numeric value of the indicators to 60% and 70% was not strictly done by following the scientific logic. It was rather the product of a well- considered strategy based on long years of sound administrative experience. To ensure a certain degree of uniformity in the process of selection, the inclusion of at least one village from each of the 19 districts (excepting Kolkata) within the purview of ‘backwardness’ was consciously done by the government as small pockets of poverty happen to exist all over the state including the advanced districts .

On careful observation the analysis further revealed that there were 45, 67,903 persons (approximately 8% of the State’s rural population) in 2001 in those villages. As expected, the concentration of such villages was found to be more in the districts with low Human Development Ranking (HDR) within the state. However, in all the districts, including those with relatively high HDR there are such villages. Past experiences tend to show that focused interventions in selected districts or even selected blocks always result in hiding the small pockets of backwardness that happen to exist in the relatively more affluent district or block. The state government, therefore, decided to address the problems taking village as the unit of analysis to bring the families living in those villages at par with the rest of the state. With the same logic, the districts with lesser concentration of such villages have been asked to identify around ten percent of their villages to be selected by similar criteria for more focused interventions in those villages. This exercise also brought to focus the fact that apart from intra- village disparities there is strong incidence of inter- village disparities, which should also be addressed.

Later on, to further refine the conditions, the earlier exercise had been

revalidated in the light of certain additional parameters which are stated as


  1. Percentage of SC&ST population- (>50% is valid)
  2. Agricultural labour ratio in the agricultural workforce- (>50% is valid)
  3. Non-agricultural worker ratio in the total workforce- (<30% is valid)
  4. Approach Road- (foot/mud is valid & paved is invalid)
  5. Communication- (nil is valid & bus/rail/navigable waterways is invalid)
  6. Health- (health – center/primary health center/primary health sub- Center/maternity home/nursing home is invalid & nil/other is valid)
  7. School- (nil/primary is valid & middle/secondary is invalid)
  8. Nearest Town- (>3 k.m is valid)
  9. Bank/Credit Society- (nil is valid)

On the basis of the surveys conducted by the districts concerned, it was found that the error percentage in most cases was seen less than 1%, the only exceptions being the districts of Malda (2.66%) and Murshidabad (7.85%) as there is an overwhelming majority of minority (Muslim) population in these districts. Emphasis was thus laid on the speedy development of the identified vulnerable areas in these respects by taking all necessary steps.

It is worth- mentioning in this regard that although the state government had initially decided to universalize two criteria namely, female illiteracy and lack of employment for the selection of backward villages throughout the state. But later on, each district was given the liberty to prepare, if required, separate indicators of development on the basis of suitable objective criteria for capturing various aspects of poverty and identify the most backward villages of the district if the original identification was found incorrect as per field verification.

The periodic interventions made by the P & RD Department in the Backward Villages may be divided into the following four phases for promoting their greater understanding.

PHASE I (2004-05):


Immediately after the identification of the Backward Villages in 2004, government orders were issued and letters were sent to the concerned District Magistrates at regular intervals from the state- level government officials directing them to make focused and direct interventions in those identified villages. Certain guidelines were also issued for successful intervention in the already identified most backward villages all of which lag far behind than the rest in terms of socio- economic development. It was then decided to address the issue from both political and administrative angles. A letter was, therefore, sent by Dr. Surya Kanta Mishra, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Health & Family Welfare and Panchayat & Rural Development, Government of West Bengal to all the Sabhadhipatis of the Zilla Parishads emphasizing the need for social and economic uplift of the backward villages on an urgent basis. The letters directed the key district- level officials to undertake base- line surveys for ascertaining ground level reality and thereby prepare a concrete plan of action for those villages for capturing the various aspects of poverty. The letters also outlined certain crucial areas which require to be focused during the conduct of the base- line surveys which are mentioned as follows:

  1. Access to those villages i.e., whether there are all- weather connectivity to reach those villages.
  2. Status of primary education and the location of primary School and SSKs.
  3. Coverage of food security programmes like AAY and Annapurna Yojana in those villages and social security programmes like NSAP.
  4. Implementation of ICDS programme in those villages particularly access, coverage and quality of implementation.
  5. Access to public health facilities and extent of immunization and other services available from the Health Sub- centre.
  6. Access to drinking water supply and the quality of water.
  7. Implementation of various poverty alleviation programmes particularly, SGRY, SGSY, SCP, TSP, formation of SHGs, etc
  8. Land use in those villages, cropping intensity, extent of irrigation and productivity and other opportunities for employment generation/economic development.

To indicate that the matter needs to be given serious administrative attention, the then Chief secretary wrote letters to all the District Magistrates, in which the details of the base- line survey mechanism was clearly spelt out. It was also stated that the survey should be conducted by the block- level officials with additional support as may be required from the sub- divisional and district headquarters. Regarding the preparation of the action plans it was mentioned that following the base- line survey specific community level schemes with locational details will have to be drawn up for the identified targets and monitoring indicators also need to be developed for the purpose. Moreover, to facilitate multi- level co-ordination it was considered necessary to share the findings of the base- line surveys with the Gram Panchayats (GPs), the Panchayat Samitis, the Sub- Divisional Officers (SDOs) and the line departments concerned and to consult them for preparing the action plans. Emphasis was also laid on the formation of more number of SHGs together with organization of training for their members to improve their general awareness about various government interventions for the poor families. Finally, the DMs of the districts and other senior district- level officials were asked to personally visit those identified backward villages for better targeting of the benefits and identification of the obstacles which stood in the way in delivering the same. Each of them were also asked to submit a field report highlighting their perceptions about the backwardness of those villages and the interventions required to bridge the already existing gaps in basic infrastructure and delivery of services.

Actions at District Level: Phase I


Following the guidelines as provided for in these letters, almost all those villages had been visited by senior officers like the DMs/ADMs, SDOs and the Panchayat functionaries from the Block and District level. Even the GP functionaries had been sensitized about the need for paying more attention to those backward villages. The officials of the line departments were also motivated to visit the villages to improve services- delivery in those areas. For that purpose the list containing the names of the identified backward villages have already been circulated to all the departments.

For effective and focused interventions delivery of public services and implementation of poverty alleviation programmes in those villages as is mentioned below are now being more closely watched from the GP as well as higher tiers of Panchayat and District administration. Those services are:

Food Security schemes like Annapurna Yojana, Antodaya Anna Yojana and PDS for the BPL families.

Social security schemes like the various pension schemes including the Old Age Pension.

Primary Education particularly enrolment of girl child and their retention till at least class IV.

Mid- day meal programme in those villages.

Functioning of ICDS centres and coverage of children in those villages.

Coverage of SGRY and other employment generation programmes in terms of availability of work per family and schemes for benefiting the SC/ST families. Coverage under IAY.

Coverage under micro- finance schemes such as SGSY, SCP and TSP along with formation of SHGs in those villages.

Functioning of health sub- centres and effectiveness of the preventive health care programmes (RCH programme, immunization programme, diarrhoea control, etc.).

Availability and quality of drinking water.

As per the directives issued by the P & RD Department from time to time in 2004 in the form of letters, all the districts had conducted the base- line surveys and prepared their action- plans. The district of Paschim Medinipur had fared very well on this count. The district had developed a well- designed format to facilitate the conduct of base- line survey in the identified villages and take up implementation of various rural development schemes in those villages with focused attention, an innovative exercise which the other districts were also requested to follow. In Uttar Dinajpur after the field survey had been completed and a detailed analysis of the survey data was made, a marking pattern was also developed for ranking of the various villages on a total weightage of 80 marks.Villages with less than 20 marks was sought to be kept in the category of highest priority for developmental works. Village- level plans including the micro- credit plans had also been prepared in consultation with the banks.

Since 2004 several developmental interventions are expected to have led to the upgrading of the socio- economic conditions of the people living in those villages. Emphasis has been laid on providing public infrastructure like roads, irrigation facilities, electricity etc and expansion of livelihood opportunities through improved agriculture, animal husbandry, pisciculture and household industries. As a result, ponds, tanks and wells have been excavated and reexcavated for augmenting livelihood through improved agriculture. Efforts have also been made for the improvement of public health and educational services in those vulnerable villages. In order to improve the capacities of the people living in those villages and to empower them, resources and necessary facilitation supports have been made available for the formation of SHGs in those villages through different programmes. For providing food security apart from better delivery of food- security programmes the women SHGs have been assisted to start their own grain- golas, where they store paddy immediately after harvest and take loan on paddy during the crises months. Some districts like Purulia and Uttar Dinajpur have performed well as compared to others in organizing graingolas. In Uttar Dinajpur, one of the poorest districts in the state, about 1000 SHGs are involved in running their own grain-golas. This apart, the Panchayats were directed to spend a substantial share of their untied funds to implement schemes in accordance with the specific local needs of those villages. Those districts having schemes like RSVY and NFFW also ensured substantial spending out of those programmes in those backward villages. A few villages have also been adopted by banks to ensure better supply of credit.

Phase II (2006- 07)


After a period of about two years since identification a need was increasingly being felt to list the works which should be taken up immediately in the backward villages in the light of the progress achieved so far in those villages. But the village- wise reports on the interventions made on the basis of local plans were largely unstructured and hence could not be compiled. Accordingly, a letter was sent to all the DMs by the Principal Secretary to the Government of West Bengal dated 23/05/2006 with regard to the collection and documentation of certain basic information in respect of all the identified backward villages to be maintained in the form of a computerized database. A similar letter was also sent to all the Sabhadhipatis on 5/6/06 by Dr. Surya Kanta Mishra, Minister in- charge of Panchayat and Rural Development Department, Government of West Bengal whereby the districts had been asked to take up a fresh survey in a prescribed uniform format that was circulated. Thus to make the data collection and compilation standardized and uniform, a standard format drafted in the GIS pattern consisting of 79 queries was sent to all the districts. The format was prepared in the light of the following queries:

1.No. of households in the village, including the percentage of SC and ST families.

  1. Status of access to the village-Pucca/Semi- pucca/Kachha/no road. Whether any road has been constructed after the village has been identified as a backward village and in that case the nature and length of the road and distance of the village from the bus- route.
  2. Percentage of irrigated land and additional irrigation potential created in the village and by what means. Number of tanks excavated and yet to be excavated in those villages.
  3. Cropping intensity at present and that before interventions- also percentage of cultivable lands which are lying fallow, cultivated once, twice or thrice.
  4. Number of days of employment available to the agricultural labourers per year on an average.

Number of man days provided per family on an average in the last one year

out of employment generation programmes.

  1. Extent of migration out of the village to be measured by the number of persons who went out in search of manual work and the positions before the interventions started.
  2. Number of households which could be extended credit for productive purposes, including agriculture in the last one year. If the input for agriculture like seeds etc. was provided from any programme in the last one year and percentage of families covered.
  3. Number of SHGs formed in the village and percentage of households with at least one member in any SHG. Also, number of grade-I SHGs and how many have CC facilities or are otherwise credit linked. Whether any productive infrastructure has been created out of SGSY or other sources in those villages.
  4. Whether any grain bank has been constructed and is operating in the village.
  5. Percentage of boys and girls yet to enrol/ regularly attend primary school/ SSK and progress made in the last one year.
  6. Percentage of children not attending ICDS centre and improvement in the last one year.
  7. Number of safe and sustainable source of drinking water available in the village and number of such sources created in the last one year.
  8. Number of beneficiaries under NOAPS, Tribal Pension (in case the village is an ITDP Mouza), and AAY in the village and if any new family has been included in those programmes. Whether delivery of the same are satisfactory as perceived by the villagers.
  9. Number of households where IAY benefits have been extended in the previous year.

Distance of the health sub- centre, primary school/SSK, ICDS centre and MR shop from the village and vacancies of personnel in these delivery institutions.

  1. Percentage of children fully immunized in those villages.
  2. Whether the village is electrified and number of houses which were electrified in the last one year.
  3. Whether there is telephone facility in the village and whether the village is within the range of mobile telephone.
  4. Percentage of untied fund (total spending by all the tiers as percentage of total availability of untied fund) spent on those villages by the ZP/ PS/ GP.

Guideline for the implementation of Projects out of funds provided by the state government for intervention in identified backward villages was issued on 6/3/07 and   a provision of Rs.20.00 cores was made in the State Budget to take up various developmental interventions in the identified backward villages in the State in keeping with the specific needs. It has been stressed to find out the critical gaps in various sectoral interventions in the identified backward villages through creation of livelihood opportunities and basic infrastructure facilities in the villages.  Zilla Parishads were asked to draw up project proposals for this purpose containing a preface, justification, description of projects, location (e.g. plot no. Mouza, GP etc.), duly vetted/model estimates, period for completion and a statement on the outcome of the projects based on estimate (No. of projects, total cost etc.) after finding out the critical gap in the various developmental sectoral interventions in the identified backward villages based on village visits and findings of the survey on the backward villages. In the financial year (2006-07) a total amount Rs. 11.98 cr. was allotted to 10 districts and  Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad for taking up various development projects in the identified backward villages in the districts. It is seen that a large number of activities related to construction of ICDS, SSK, tubewell, common workshed for SHGs, community hall, grain gola, flood shelter etc. have been completed out of the fund.

Phase III (2007- 08)

All districts submitted survey report as on 31.3.07 in prescribed format. Only Uttar Dinajpur & Coochbehar districts submitted survey report as on 31.3.07 in their own format.

Important findings from the above said survey:-

  1. Average distance of Health Sub centre from the village is 2.15 km.
  2. VEC not functioning in 44% backward villages.
  3. 50932 no. of boys & 55851 girls are yet to enroll in Primary School/ SSKs.
  4. No of male & female drop outs before completing Class IV are 29761 &32172 (village wise data also available)
  5. On an average 22 days per month, cooked food is supplied in ICDS centers.
  6. Total 17586 SHGs are formed upto March 07 in backward villages. Among them 5731 SHGs passed Grade-I.
  7. 362119 HOUSEHOLDS IN BACKWARD VILLAGESs out of 629814 have no member in any SHG.
  8. 82 % of households dependent on agriculture get irrigation facilities.
  9. 57 % of villagers living in backward villages have not ever heard name of Antodaya Anna Yojona.
  10. 142168 acre out of 632004.70 acre (i.e 22.49 %) cultivable land is lying fallow.
  11. 80 acre additional irrigation potential created since identification upto March 07.
  12. 64 % of villagers in backward villages are involved in agriculture related occupation.
  13. 74 % of villagers in backward villages migrate outside at least once in a year for work.
  14. 80% of backward villages have no Adult Education Centers
  15. 38 % of total backward villages are electrified.
  16. 39 % of total households have electric connection

                        A sum of Rs. 1843.55 lakh was released for development of the backward villages in 2007-08

Name of Activities 2006-07 2007-08
Physical Target Achievement Physical Target Achievement
Education 110 100 307 106
Construction & upgradation of ICDS 154 134 222 123
SHGs & Livelihood 208 185 1048 318
Drinking Water 381 311 640 380
Irrigation 12 12 118 56
Infrastructure 84 71 175 87
Adult Education 7 7 393 123





Phase IV (2008- 09)

Considering that the districts having backward villages less than 5% of the total no. Of villages in the district are able to support the backward villages from other sources of fund, the budgetary support was made available to nine districts and Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad having higher concentration of backward villages. it was also decided that more agencies will be associated for implementing projects in the identified backward villages for speedier utilization of the fund earmarked for the purpose and the fund.  A sum of Rs. 1446.78 lakh was released from State Budget for development of the backward villages in 2008-09.  Three major types of activities i.e Support to Livelihood, Agriculture & Allied and Infrastructure Development have been sanctioned The following table shows Agency wise as well as District wise Approved & Sanctioned Fund. The projects taken up are in various stages of implementation at present. During 2009-10, an amount of Rs.17.00 cr. has been provided in the state budget.


Progress of formation of SHGs in backward villages (as on 31.3.09)-

        Formation of SHGs in the backward villages has also been given priority and the achievement is regularly monitored at the DRDC level. The status as on 31.3.09 is given below.

District No of identified backward villages No of household in backward villages No of SHGs required to be formed No of SHGs formed No of families involved % of families involved
Darjeeling 5 20518 1633 418 4180 20
Purulia 994 160820 13401 7148 85776 53
Cooch Behar 26 3386 310 306 3366 99
Murshidabad 242 88216 8000 2056 23150 26
Bankura 569 51317 5131 1616 16172 32
Birbhum 218 41679 4164 2128 21921 53
Burdwan 55 6216 599 371 4071 65
Hooghly 21 4894 489 197 1970 40
Purba Medinipur 8 287 28 17 158 55
Jalpaiguri 79 45187 4185 1295 14245 32
Howrah 4 868 76 54 562 65
Dakshin Dinajpir 184 20980 2098 1153 11530 55
Malda 602 156812 13074 6341 58812 38
Nadia 59 30840 7022 3830 15951 52
North 24 Pgs 2 89 7 70 79
Paschim Medinipur 638 42083 4197 1602 16317 39
Siliguri MP 80 16630 1040 585 6760 41
South 24 Pgs 66 8546 2123 560 5023 59
Uttar Dinajpur 760 231201 5160 61290 27
TOTAL 4612 930569 67570 34844 351324 38



Progress of implementation of NREGA in backward villages

The districts were requested to see that more employment may be generated in backward villages under NREGA.  That will ensure more income in those villages as well as creation of more infrastructures in those villages.  This has been monitored regularly by the indicator of no of days employment generated per family in the backward villages as compared to the district as a wholeStatus of Implementation of NREGA in Backward Villages during 2008-09 is shown in the following table.

Name of the District No. of Identified Backward Village in the District Average No. of days of employment provided per Household in Backward Villages Average No. of person day generated per House Hold  in the District as a whole
Jalpaiguri 79 18 23
Uttar Dinajpur 760 22 22
Dakshin Dinajpur 184 27 23
Malda 602 22 13
Murshidabad 242 26 20
South 24-Pgs 66 15 16
Paschim Midnapur 638 17 26
Bankura 569 29 24
Purulia 994 27 25
Birbhum 218 20 27
Siliguri MP 80 17 17
Nadia 59 13 23
Burdwan 55 49 29

As already stated at the outset, the initiative of development of identified backward villages was taken up to reduce the inter-village disparities in the districts through utilization of all available resources on the basis of specific Action Plans so that the villages may be elevated to a status which at par with the average of the district. Though some limited achievements are noticeable in the backward villages, yet it requires a lot more attention for the development of the backward villages particularly in the districts where is very high concentration of backward villages. Districts and various line departments have already been urged upon to give more focussed attention to these villages and utilize all available resources alongwith improvement of delivery mechanism of various services which the PRIs and departments are expected to provide in the villages. It is expected that with the availability of higher amount of untied funds with the PRIs and the strengthening of the decentralized planning process under various initiatives including “Strengthening of Rural Decentralization” and B.R.G.F., the PRIs will be better placed in the identification of needs and taking appropriate measures in the progressive removal of village level disparities in the state in foreseeable future.

Women empowering and photo Gallery of the Activities of West Bengal Human Development Society and his activities & Photo Galler
West Bengal Human Development Society NGO working for women empowering for Education ,Financial,and overall safety

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