4. The Planning Commission and the Challenges of Rural Development in India, 1950s to 1980s

Brief description of the project:

This research looks at the history of rural development in India between the 1950s and the 1980s, through the lens of the Planning Commission. It will be re-constructing the intellectual history of the Planning Commission as a central institution of planning in India, in order to look at the production and circulation of knowledge of rural development within the time period from the 1950s to 1980s and will map the role of the Planning Commission in this process.

Research Question:

How did the perception of the members of the Planning Commission regarding ‘Rural Development’ change or evolve over the time period from the 1950s to the 1980s, and how were these ‘perceptions’ translated into ‘practice’ as visible in the policies designed by the policy making circles in Delhi?’

The above research questions will be answered by breaking it down further into following sub-questions:

  • Who were the relevant policy making circles in independent India? Did they include only the members of the Planning Commission or also those outside the PC? How did these circles undergo a transition over the time period? How did they view rural development?
  • Who were the important foreign actors (Example: Ford Foundation, US government and other independent researchers such as Albert Mayer) which were participating in the rural development process in India? This question should be discussed with reference to their proximity to relevant planning institutions within India.
  • What ideas which were put forth by the different actors? Which of these ideas were employed and which ones were shelved? What were the reasons behind a certain specific idea being favoured over the other ideas?

Were these changes in ideas and concepts merely cosmetic, a change in the terminology used by the PC, or did they also mean a change in the way ‘Rural India’ was seen and perceived in Delhi and its policy making circles?