AR-670:INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT M. U. R. P.

2nd Semester

INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT Assignment-1:BOOK REVIEW
‘RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN ACTION’
THE COMPREHENSIVE EXPERIMENT AT COMILLA, EAST PAKISTAN
BY

ARTHUR F.RAPER

K.V.ABHISHEK MURP – 1 12511009 K.V.Abhishek 12511009 MURP-1 Page 1

AR-670:INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT M. U. R. P. 2nd Semester

‘RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN ACTION’ THE COMPREHENSIVE EXPERIMENT AT COMILLA, EAST PAKISTAN BY ARTHUR F.RAPER

Ever since the Comilla Experiment was launched, way back in 1959, there have been numerous criticisms, essays and debates over the topic, the experiment, first of its kind, was a stepping stone to the future of Rural Development and supposedly, a benchmark in this realm of Planning, however, after 50 years of the comprehensive experiment, one cannot fully comprehend and judge the methodologies and techniques and their validity in today’s scenario. To begin with, The Comilla Model was a rural development programme launched in 1959 by the Pakistan Academy for Rural Development (renamed in 1971 the Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development). The Academy, which is located on the outskirts of Comilla town, was founded by Akhter Hameed Khan, the cooperative pioneer who was responsible for developing and launching the programme. The book, first published in 1970, is an attempt to document the whole regime and process that lead to the formation of Academy for Rural Development at Comilla in East Pakistan.As the author mentions in Chapter 10, the book aims “To get at the roots of rural development problems; to formulate tentative approaches to their solution;to test these hypotheses in experimental programs involving the motivation of decision makers…….and to utilize the records for the administration of further rural development programs”. The book aims to look at the perils of the society from a humanistic point of view, and tends to recall the details of an ambitious experiment which carved a new niche in the Rural Development scenario. The book, divided into 10 Chapters, is organized quite well, which the readers would appreciate, The President of the Ford Foundation, David E. Bell gives us a foreword which is simple and informative and sets the tone for the book, the narrative is in chronological order of the various events and programs of the experiment, and the writing style is quite lucid. Ranging from the Physical and Cultural setting in East Pakistan, to summarizing the social issues prevalent in the area, the book emerges as an exhaustive yet vital document full of over 250 pages of crucial information. In the narrative, Two types of spellings are encountered; The American & the British, the latter limited to direct quotations. When a Bengali term is used, it is italicized. A glossary defining the Bengali terms is provided, and a list of abbreviations precedes the text, which makes the book a highly organized document. The most astonishing aspect of the book is the background research done by the author on his individual part, which is commendable, even people from non-planning or non-economical background will find this book easy to comprehend without much brainstorming. The author provides us with all the relevant evidences and sources to support his documentation at almost
K.V.Abhishek 12511009 MURP-1 Page 2

AR-670:INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT M. U. R. P. 2nd Semester

all places, graphs, illustrations, statistical charts etc. with numerous citations taken from Academy Publications and documents. The author had actually visited Comilla for his study in 1966, to “check further on his impressions” and the result was a voluminous manuscript, expertly reduced to a small book length by Harry L.Case, of Michigan State University, which financed the publishing. The book highlights other issues as well, like the problems of inadequate infrastructure, the village floods, improper revenue generation, the inability of the farmers to expand their production and sales, Irrigation ,Rural Electrification, and also, the subject of women empowerment, “So too, with the village woman, traditionally limited by purdah, who becomes a teacher of other village women,…. Or who uses a sewing machine to make clothes to sell or for her family, or learns silk screen printing. She will encourage her children to take part in other innovative activities”(Chapter 10:Reflections). One should remember that the year we are talking about here is 1959, when women were largely suppressed from activities beyond the boundaries of her kitchen. Rather than the planning aspect, the Comilla experiment was largely based on the social aspect of the community and intended to promote the citizens in the participation of a rural movement. The author stresses on the social aspect in almost every chapter, and thus fulfills to a large extent the aim of the book – to provide people an example of a successful public participation and an initiative which gradually expanded to higher aims. While the results of the Model ultimately frustrated Khan’s ambitions, it has important implications for rural Community development, particularly cooperative microfinance and microcredit. However, the book can be a bit difficult in portions since the author dwells upon too many irrelevant details at places, and the narrative is too long in some paragraphs. Also, if one expects a good reading on Rural Development, the reader possibly looks on to some solutions that can be provided, or some inferences which he/she can deduce from the book, the Author talks about problems in too much detail rather than focusing on the methods derived to eradicate those problems in Comilla, the retrospect in certain chapters is exhausting, a little crisp editing is needed at many places in order to make the book precise, while some may argue on the lengthy narrative of the book, but right editing at some places can help the readers in a better way. Overall, “Rural Development In Action” is an honest attempt at documenting a truly tiring and comprehensive experiment and book succeeds at most places, delivering what it promises, the paradoxes are always there, but what intensifies the book is its sheer ability to tackle those paradoxes cleverly, in the end, the author also puts in an excerpt from his own diary, “A Light in the Darkness” wherein he summarizes the whole crux of the book, i.e. communal harmony, public participation and love, “Here among us a kind of courage and a kind of hope has been born” and also mentions the bitter truth of the superficial society we live in “He who has no money has no worth.He has no place in the world.He who has money and capital has power”.

K.V.Abhishek 12511009 MURP-1

Page 3

AR-670:INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT M. U. R. P. 2nd Semester

To see if Comilla will work elsewhere remains to be seen yet, but this book will inspire the coming generations to motivate and initiate people for active public participation, where people not only sit down in the meetings, but also act with the Government as their limbs. Especially students of Planning and Economics will find it an enriching experience which will add to their academic knowledge and benefit them in more than one way. As the author concludes – “If we all unite, sit down together and help one another, if the poor and the well-off sit together, if those who have money unite, if those who have wisdom unite, if they get machines and seeds and all other necessities together, then you will see how Allah’s mercy will be upon you.”

K.V.Abhishek 12511009 MURP-1

Page 4

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.