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  • "A Big Machine Not Working Properly"Elite Narratives of India's Community Projects, 1952–58
abstract

This article argues against the common assumption in the field of development studies about "depoliticization" of the terrain in which development is conceived, implemented, and received. Taking the case of the history of "community development project" in India between 1952 and 1958, it makes the case that technocratic development in post-independence India involved a case of active, all around politics of negotiation. India's postcolonial elites were quite self-consciously geared to "own" the program in the name of nation and nation-building. The subjects of development were not passive either. It is certainly possible to read their politics of resistance in the process of development's implementation and in elite narratives of development.

In September 1952, speaking to a group of trainee officials of the soon to be launched community development project, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, emphasized the importance of technology for the improvement of village life in India. This was the very first batch of officials of the communitarian project whose network would soon cover the entire country in an attempt to reinvigorate India's rural masses' will to improve. In preparation for the task ahead these officials had received intensive orientation for helping India's villagers in domains as varied as agricultural production, education, health and sanitation, and information and entertainment. Nehru urged his officials to go out in the field and energize the communities by working along two lines: "improvement of the man, and improvement of his technology in small matters."1 Technology was to be a common denominator in the effort to improve life, and figured [End Page 1027] at the center of a vision for improved life in the countryside. This article studies narratives like these that throw light on the place of technology in development inititatives during the early postcolonial career of the young republic that India was in the 1950s. There exists important literature in development studies that highlights the "depoliticizing" potential of development in terms of making political stakes invisible while promising technological rationalities as solution. The implication is that development builds consent and clears its path though this act of "rendering politics technical." In contrast, this article shows that the path of development tends to be anything but apolitical. It highlights the shifts in development trajectories, and points toward constant negotiations among development's advocates and between advocates and adversaries as an aspect of the active politics of development.2 The multiplicity of strategies and goals pursued by development's varied stakeholders were often at cross purposes and, if anything, sought to tactically expose the banality or otherwise of one strategy against the other. In sum, therefore, this article points toward development's lack of success in depoliticizing what was at stake.

Community development projects were the Indian postcolonial state's first major developmentalist initiative. They were launched on a pilot basis in 1948, just a year after independence, and on a nationwide scale on 2 October 1952. The postcolonial elites of the early republic trusted community projects to deliver on multiple developmental goals. This trust was reflected in a growing administrative infrastructure and a network of community development blocks and extension centers that expanded at a brisk pace in India in the 1950s. India sought and received early support from the Ford Foundation, and later received support in technical and social scientific expertise for these projects from the U.S. State Department under President Harry Truman's Point Four program of technical aid.3 [End Page 1028]

Regardless of the general enthusiasm toward community development projects, critiques of its shortcomings also started to emerge early on. In a resolution moved in the Indian Parliament on 9 December 1955, just three years into the program, parliamentarians asked probing questions. Raghubir Sahai, the mover of the resolution, argued that "most of the villages had not been touched at all" by the project in creating an infrastructure of roads, irrigation structures, or in meeting targets in the use of improved seeds and fertilizers. He also found glaring shortcomings in meeting the "cultural" goal of building a genuine spirit of development and participation among the villagers, calling the outcome in this regard "entirely disappointing."4 As the debate continued into the next year, another member, Shri Thimmaiah, complained that the project was not being impactful on "the weaker sections of the people, particularly the Scheduled caste, Scheduled Tribe people."5 Such reservation by these dissenters is important because it anticipates later criticisms of the very same shortcomings. A growing realization of the project's limitation in meeting objectives would lead to a total revamp of the community development project from 1 January 1959.

The question of "failure" of community projects in elite narratives is a convenient entry point for interrogating the scope and valence of technology-centered development to diverse social classes in India. Scholars of development studies in South Asia have debated a number of vexing questions regarding the technology-dispensing developmentalist state and the continued chasm between technocratic development and the mass of subaltern classes. At the core of these debates lies an acknowledgement of a disconnect between the telos of development and the aspirations of the dispossessed classes. In more recent times, community development studies literature in India has returned to the themes of statism and the subjectagents of development, whose mutual salience now is studied beyond the prior assumptions of the autonomy of subaltern political domain and consciousness. Africanist James Ferguson, one of the leading scholars of global development, called the development apparatus in Lesotho an "anti-politics machine." Ferguson identified the expansion of bureaucratic power as the primary effect of development in the African country to which the problem of poverty was but a point of entry.6 This literature sits ill at ease [End Page 1029] with the South Asian historiography, wherein there is a growing focus on the politicization of development, whether in the capture of state decisionmaking power through the electoral process, or in negotiations to wrest resources from a welfarist state.7 This article maps out the internal tensions of "development" on to the conflicting and conciliatory notions and demands of statist imperatives and popular politics relating to community development projects in a South Asian context.

Taking South Asian Development Studies Forward

South Asianists have a lot to contribute to both the discussion of development and to the specific question of entrapment of expertise in development. This interest traverses two bodies of scholarship: one that discusses the role of the Indian postcolonial state in development, and another that deals with the place of technology in improvement and development. David Ludden, in tracking the colonial genealogy of development on the subcontinent, fuses the study of state power, bureaucracy, and technology conceptually in his study of the birth of a development "regime" on the subcontinent.8 Ludden points out that the four major traits of development were already visible in the last quarter of the nineteenth century in colonial India: the positioning of the state as the prime mover of developmental process; the state's investment in building infrastructure; a general trust in the idea of economic progress benefitting the poor; and the use of science and technology as instruments of progress.9 In all of their renderings—imperial, national, and global—development regimes, Ludden argues, contained a technocratic core, although it should be underscored that Ludden is making a reference here conjointly to technical expertise as well as to managerial and administrative expertise. Others have unpacked the triangulated relationship of state, development, and technology along separate axes. The state-technology relationship has been discussed in the study of development's colonial precursor on the subcontinent, i.e., "improvement." Gyan Prakash has analyzed the Indian engagement with colonial science in differential terms, separating the visions of the Indian middle classes from those of the subaltern classes.10 Benjamin Zachariah has assessed the state-development axis, while locating the emergence of India's technocratic development within the Nehruvian order in India. [End Page 1030] Nehru's openness to science and technology for development is the focus of his study.11

The discussion of development in the context of investigating postcolonial state and society in South Asia raises another set of questions. In the early position of the Subaltern Collective, many scholars argued that the subalterns resisted the colonial state and its project of colonial modernity on the basis of their preexisting social solidarities and an autonomous domain of consciousness. More recently, however, South Asianists have opened up to a more interactional understanding of subalternity. Indeed, to Partha Chatterjee, the very course of development and pursuit of policies of welfare in India has created the conditions for subalterns to demand resources from the state.12 There is a critical maneuver implicit in the above turn. The state's developmental actions are seen as discreet acts of politics. The discordant voices of recipients of development are seen as imbued in the dominant state structures on which they exert pressure, and resistance to development is seen as deeply implicated in the symbols and discourses of domination, and at other times in clear acts of resistance.13 Many have called this "the politics of negotiation," which were imprinted in the debates within the elite realms, in their diverse positionings, and in the multiplicity of forms that development projects took on the ground.14 To the extent that the argument of "depoliticization" implies that development subjects were successfully distracted from "their intention to negotiate," South Asianists register their strong note of disagreement.15 They are embedded in a broader, distinct arc of scholarship that views the interface between "elite" and "subordinate" as negotiated through struggle and compromise in the actual practice of development.16 They thus do not agree that the distribution of political, economic, and cultural resources inherent to development is not [End Page 1031] resisted. No longer are domination and "resistance as negotiation" posited as working in independent domains, but rather as being entangled. These negotiations were certainly part of the development process. "If anything," argues Indrajit Roy in his study of electrification programs, state-initiated development causes "considerable politicization." A similar emphasis on active politics also enters Ajantha Subramanian's study of Indian fishers on the southwestern coast of Kanyakumari whose quest for democratic rights intersected with the history of technocratic development in the region.17

Reviewing the literature on development, Sugata Bose made a point that the history of development in India gets assessed on the basis of "the dichotomies of modernity versus tradition, reason versus unreason, science versus superstition, or, most simplistically, Nehru versus Gandhi" which, he implies, flattens the diversity of the Indian development experience. Bose's argument about the heterogeneity of development discourse is helpful in investigating the history of community development in the South Asian post-colony, and indeed pushes the current understandings of Indian development.18 The focus on the mutual alignment of Point Four, the postcolonial state, and extension network in India allows for exploring the negotiated nature of communitarian principles that took roots in 1950s India. It allows "politics of negotiation" to be mapped on to the flows of expertise between the U.S. State Department and Nehru's emissaries of development; between policies and the development apparatus; and between institutions, foreign experts, and agrarian subalterns. Looking at expertise in this manner allows for questioning what stands for "American" or "Indian" forms of expertise. It also allows for creating a platform from which to critique the limited nature of elite imaginaries of progress. Partha Chatterjee's formulation of planned development as a modality in state formation misses the internal debates and rifts that marked the trajectory of development. In his analysis the internal shifts in policy are folded into a political analysis of planning. So the differences in approach over time collapse into a singular analysis of the politics of planning. This article will touch upon those internal rifts and the changes in the course of development in the community project's history.

"Point Four" and American Experts: The Question of "Ownership"

President Harry Truman's Point Four policies for providing technical aid to developing countries opened up the possibility of sending American experts to India. The bilateral agreement between the two nations of 5 January 1952 made provisions for selection and assignment of American [End Page 1032] personnel in India, for the training of Indian technicians in the United States, and for financial assistance toward supplies and equipment that were to be used by the American and Indian experts. The Technical Cooperation Mission (TCM) office in New Delhi and the Planning Commission of India were to collaboratively operationalize this agreement.19

The American records, strikingly, call the Indian community development projects "the foundation of the Indo-U.S. cooperative program" under Point Four, even though there is evidence that communitarian projects constituted only a fraction of the total American aid in funds.20 In 1952, in cost terms, community projects constituted only about 6.9 percent of total American aid to India. Much of this cost was incurred in paying salaries to the American personnel in India and in the purchase of material supplies used for demonstration purposes. These came relatively cheap compared to, for instance, the cost of setting up a hydroelectric project or the expense of importing large quantities of fertilizers and steel. A shift in budgeting priorities in 1953 diverted an even larger proportion of American aid money away from community projects and toward major irrigation projects.21

To the extent that the U.S. State Department records highlight the place of community projects in American aid to India, they tell us more about the place of specific personnel and ideologues in U.S. programs for agricultural modernization in Asia than anything else.22 This assertion, however, creates the wrong impression of American "ownership" of community projects in India, as if the Nehru-era community projects were a straight-out "American" import into India. Such claims of ownership have larger historiographical implication. They overplay the role of American ideas and personnel while downplaying the commitment of Indian actors and their influence on the nation's community programs.23

The accounts that portray the United States as the primary underwriter [End Page 1033] of communitarian projects in India also convey a contrasting picture of the Indian state as lagging in its foremost responsibility of improving the rural sector. This narrative of a "negligent state" implies that the relevant political classes in India did not do enough to improve the food situation for the country's burgeoning population. Nehruvian India, in this argument, somewhat recklessly continued to invest its scarce resources on laying the infrastructure for industrial development while ignoring the agricultural sector. As a result, India remained a net importer of food grains through the 1950s and '60s, often suffering from famine-like situations in specific years. This narrative is frequently invoked, for their own purposes, by the later advocates of productivist strategies—both Americans and Indians—who heaped accusations on Nehru for the shortfall in aggregate food production well into the 1960s. To the contrary, there is little doubt about the commitment of the postcolonial state to village life. The records clearly demonstrate that the Indian government overwhelmingly paid for the execution of these primarily rural projects. The American and Indian contributions for community projects stood at $8.6 million and $72.2 million, respectively, in 1952; $1.9 million and $15.4 million in 1953; and $19.6 million and $137.4 million in 1954.24

The overemphasis on U.S. State Department records in current accounts of community development in India also fosters an understanding of "transfer" of personnel, technology, and ideas. But the reality is that India's community projects emerged in the midst of local contingencies, in which the question of a U.S. connection appears to be distant, remote, and somewhat reified. It helps to pay closer attention to what happened in India and to move away from preconceived notions of an American "ownership." The Cold War context played a role in opening the way for movement of experts. But the final shape of community project in India evolved amid an assemblage of contingencies in a local, "national" context.25 In the context, the more pertinent questions become: Who controlled the shape of the program—the American experts, the implementing Indian bureaucracy, or local participants? [End Page 1034]

Community Project and National Extension Scheme: Questions of Purity

The first community project in India was launched in a zone comprising a group of sixty-four villages in the Etawah district of Uttar Pradesh in 1948. This "pilot plan," as this early project was called, was the result of efforts initiated by Albert Mayer, an American city planner, who obtained the support of important collaborators in India. Mayer was acting in his capacity as a private citizen. He had come into contact with Nehru and apparently charmed him with plans of development through community action. He received Nehru's support and encouragement. Subsequently, the state government of Uttar Pradesh sponsored the launch of the Etawah project under Mayer's leadership.26 As a separate effort, the Ford Foundation's collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research led to the launch of fifteen additional pilot community projects in 1951–52, one in each of the fifteen states in India.27 Subsequently, the Ford Foundation also funded the establishment of training schools for village level workers (or VLWs) and project officials of community projects. The U.S. State Department joined this collaborative program and provided a much larger quantum of resources. It supplied funds, materials, and personnel to the Indian government to launch the first major tranche of fifty-five community development "areas" across the country in 1952 (figs. 12).

The following year, in 1953, the Indian government launched the National Extension Scheme (NES) as part of its own effort to expand community projects in larger swathes of territory of India. Whereas the 1952 program was to facilitate intensive development in select areas for three years initially (later extended by another year), the NES was supposed to be permanent. The NES program envisioned covering the entire country with development "blocks" into which the existing "project areas" would merge on their expiry. Both community projects and NES were programmatically the same, and were operated with the same bureaucracy.28

The launch of NES demonstrated a substantial commitment by the postcolonial state to the communitarian route of development. In the very first year, the NES network provided coverage to as many as one-twentieth of India's villages. The first fifty-five community projects were considered [End Page 1035]

Fig. 1. Community and NES Projects, 1952–53 and projected to 1961. (Source: Kurukshetra 2, no. 2 [October 1953]: unpaginated.)
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Fig. 1.

Community and NES Projects, 1952–53 and projected to 1961. (Source: Kurukshetra 2, no. 2 [October 1953]: unpaginated.)

equivalent to about 300 NES blocks, and the government planned to set up 900 such blocks by the end of the first Five Year Plan (to end in 1955–56), and to cover all of India by 1960–61 (figure 1 above). Each block, comprising about 100 villages and covering a population of about 60,000–65,000, was administered by a project executive officer, and all the blocks in a state were under the development commissioner of the state. A central committee of the Planning Commission chaired by the prime minister and including the ministers of agriculture and community development administered the plan at the all-India level. A similar structure of administration was replicated at the state level. More to the point, this massive [End Page 1036] financial infusion and the creation of a designated bureaucracy was entirely the Indian government's undertaking, and based completely on its own priorities.29

Fig. 2. Community project areas. (Source: Kurukshetra 2, no. 2 [October 1953]: unpaginated.)
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Fig. 2.

Community project areas. (Source: Kurukshetra 2, no. 2 [October 1953]: unpaginated.)

The CD and NES projects involved a skillful mixing and balancing of social tools of communication and mobilization of village communities with a core of technical measures that focused on raising food production. The goal of yield improvement too was construed broadly in the belief that a sustainable program of high production in the countryside could only develop on the backs of an energized village workforce that grasped well all of the elements of technology, was healthy, aware, and enthused to work for the betterment of community. Some of this realization for an expansive [End Page 1037] approach had admittedly come out of the country's prior experience with "Grow More Food" (or GMF) programs that had somewhat narrowly focused on yield improvement by providing inputs like improved seeds, fertilizers, and implements. The recommendation to make food production programs going forward broader in orientation was explicitly out forth by the enquiry committee set up to assess the shortfalls of GMF program.30

The specific tasks undertaken in the community "areas" and "blocks" were extremely diverse. The record of work in one of the early community areas at Bhadson in PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union) showcases the range of tasks completed therein. Bhadson was one of the first fifteen projects that the Ford Foundation had sponsored in India. Reporting on the types of initiatives at Bhadson, just six months into the project, Ford Foundation Chief Douglas Ensminger, characterized the results obtained as "dramatic," something that "warm[s] the cockles of one's heart." As Ensminger reported, the community personnel had succeeded in convincing the villagers to adopt an American variety of long-staple cotton and to sow the seed in rows, a practice that he thought would raise yield by 50 percent. The Bhadson project staff had also organized hundreds of demonstration plots for several other crops and encouraged villagers to build compost pits. Several wells were built, other existing ones were improved, and water-pumping sets were installed. Since a substantial acreage in the project area was under forest, project staff had worked to clear as much as 100 acres for cultivation. Ensminger also mentioned that a few of the villagers had raised money and provided voluntary labor to build a school which the government then staffed, and that interest in schools was spreading widely throughout the project area. In another village that Ensminger visited, inhabitants had taken it on themselves to organize cleanliness drives that extended from cleaning homes to cleaning village streets. The villagers were also interested in building cattle sheds while the women in the area wanted to have kitchens with better ventilation. Ensminger looked at these new practices as a symbol of the effectiveness of community projects in this early stage.31

The bewildering diversity of tasks performed under the umbrella of community projects also raised concerns in a few quarters. Looking at what passed under the name of "community projects" in governmental programs, the American advisor Carl C. Taylor objected to "the loose way" in which the term was being appropriated in India. Taylor, a rural sociologist by training and an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture, was serving in the role of a key regional adviser for community [End Page 1038] development projects in India under TCM. Many kinds of initiatives could improve productive capacities or lived conditions, but Taylor wondered if it was administratively or conceptually helpful to include them all under the rubric of community development. He thought that such an all-encompassing vision of community development might actually create roadblocks in the way of real consolidation of the idea in India. A believer in the application of a rigid principle, Taylor thought that there were four clear, essential steps in the process of community development: a systematic discussion of commonly felt needs by the members of the community; systematic planning to carry out self-help undertakings selected by the community; complete mobilization and harnessing of physical, social, and economic assets of the local community; and finally, creation of aspiration and determination to undertake additional community projects. Any deviation from this well-charted path was likely to diffuse the process and compromise the goals of community development.32

But "purists" like Taylor were immediately called into question by Indian implementers of community projects. This dialogue between intellectual proponents and field officers once again invites attention to the historiographically important questions of transfer of models and artifacts across geographical spaces and between experts and populaces. One of the Indian interlocutors, Anil De, an Indian Administrative Service officer belonging to the top echelons of Indian bureaucracy, challenged Carl Taylor's views. De attacked the likes of Taylor both for their seemingly academic obsession with an idea and for the "straight and narrow path" they advocated. To De, the projects in India must as a matter of course deviate from such formulaic prescriptions. Experts like Taylor, in De's opinion, seemed to show "deep repugnance for everything that smacks of strayal [sic] from their own discipline." They ignored the fact that community projects in India were composite projects in nation-building that—he would grant this much—did include elements of American "extension" methods. De explained that there were clearly two sets of activities being pursued in India under community project programs. One of them could be identified as "agricultural extension proper" and the other with community enterprises such as building schools, roads, and panchayat ghars (local self-representative institutions). The latter were the "corporate activities" distinguishable from the pursuit of "extension methods." Anil De thought that the path followed by the "pragmatists" like himself, in terms of creation of assets or the effort toward planning and meeting of hard targets, was not going off from the ideal of communitarianism, as accused by the "purists," but actually solidifying the practice of communitarianism.33 [End Page 1039]

The realization of a diverse genealogy also came to other contemporaries, after the program had evolved and changed in the initial years. The University of Chicago anthropologist McKim Marriott, who was an associate of Albert Mayer, thought that the community projects were composite in character and also "uniquely Indian." Writing in 1956, while on a field study in India, Marriott noted the diverse origins of the community projects, an enterprise that to him seemed to have borrowed elements of administrative democracy from TVA project in the United States and the techniques of extension from the past practices of the United States Department of Agriculture. It was, Marriott argued, influenced by ideas from industrial sociology and cultural anthropology. But it was also shaped by tradition and past learning from Gandhian constructive works in India, from past projects of foreign missionaries in India, and from colonial era developmental projects.34

A letter in an economic journal in India lent explicit support to Marriott's views that the Indian community projects were an admixture of distinct ideas and reflected multivalent goals. At its broadest, it represented an amalgamation of the idea of integrated development of villages with the "extension approach." Administratively, it was comprised of trained village level workers at the ground level backed by a hierarchy of experts and administrators. Such an infrastructure of administration was, of course, a far cry from the idealist, academic vision of Carl Taylor.35

The Elites: Owning up Community Projects

A focus on two of Nehru's key administrators, S. K. Dey and V. T. Krishnamachari, provides an entry to postcolonial elites' effort to own up the community development program in India. S. K. Dey was the administrator of the Community Projects Administration (CPA)—the primary administrative body for the conduct of community projects—and subsequently became Nehru's community project minister. And as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, under whose auspices community projects were implemented, V. T. Krishnamachari was closely associated with community projects in India from the very start until his death in 1964. Together, these individuals were the doyens of community projects in India. A study of their priorities with regard to community projects reveals some of the programmatic and ideological tensions of community projects. The two individuals collectively embodied these tensions—what one might even call contradictions.

In the early days of the community project, the Ford Foundation sponsored S. K. Dey's trip to various locations within the United States, Mexico, [End Page 1040] and Japan to see for himself the working of community projects and other experiments of rural uplift. The trip was quite an experience for Dey, as he described on his return. He met with faculty at various universities in the United States; saw the community projects in operation at Tuskegee in Alabama, in Arizona, Hawaii, and in Mexico; got to know the regional planning schemes of TVA in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the housing schemes in Chicago; and witnessed firsthand the problems of agriculture and small industry in Japan. The more he saw these myriad plans in operation, the more he became convinced that what India was experimenting with through its own community projects and National Extension Scheme was a novelty in itself. It was indeed, he thought, "a pilot project for the world." With this claim, Dey highlighted what was original, new, and unprecedented about India's community projects. Very consciously he discarded any linkages with contemporary and prior community projects in the United States and elsewhere.36

Dey maintained that "a new theory of social and economic action" was emerging out of the community project experience in India. The economic development of masses was indivisible from a simultaneous effort for stirring of the minds and nourishing of the bodies of the rural populace. This presumption of organic unity of the social problem was the key to solving poverty in the Indian countryside. Hence improvement could not be "a matter of applying a higher technology of production alone."37 If anything, Dey argued for restraining technology, lest "it breaks loose like a runaway horse from the harness of people's comprehension and grasp." Providing a critique of the relentless use of technology in the world at large and the fetishizing of technology—in a manner not too distant from a Gandhian critique of technology—he wondered if an unrestrained use of technology "over a large part of the world" was the cause of "fearful tensions between and within nations" and in "private lives."38 S. K. Dey believed that the community experience in India was tailored to solving problems in every sphere of life. In a conversation with Paul Taylor, the head of the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley, Dey insisted that this original conception of village development was coming from the ground-level experience in India. When Taylor remarked that surely it did not seem that Dey had learned his economics of community projects at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, he responded that he had learned his economics "in the villages of West Bengal."39 Dey's retort represented what Gyan Prakash has called the "second sight" of the nationalist [End Page 1041] elite, representing the less-than-radical appropriation of the globalist scientific program by India's elites in the name of a different "reason" and "the modern."40 He appropriated development by claiming the ground to speak for the modern and the nation. This was the elite postcolonial project of nationalism through technology that Gyan Prakash describes.41

It is also difficult to interpret India's program of community development in isolation from the broader goals and priorities of the Planning Commission in India, the institution that devised and implemented India's Five Year Plans for development. To planning stalwarts like V. T. Krishnamachari, community development from day one was a major bulwark for pressing forward the agenda of building a welfare state on the foundation of improved production in the countryside and the willing participation of India's agriculturists. Krishnamachari, too, thought that low agricultural productivity in India was "a human problem." Early on, he was cajoling development commissioners who were in charge of community development programs in their respective states to try and bring about "a change of outlook in the minds of the villagers," and to keep "the human aspect in mind" in their effort to revive the countryside.42 He repeated this advice at the fourth and sixth development commissioners' meets, sticking to this idea consistently. The genesis of this approach was evident even in the report of the committee that he chaired on the Grow More Food campaigns that ended in 1951. The report explicitly stated that the challenge of lack of a better rural life in India was "essentially a human problem." There was "a tremendous task" at hand of creating among 60 million families in villages "a burning desire for a higher standard of living" and "a will to live better." The real task at hand was to figure out "how to awaken such enthusiasm and maintain it at a high level and how to lift people out of themselves and enlist their active interest and support in the task of bettering their own conditions."43 As late as 1957, Krishnamachari emphasized that community development was strictly geared to produce "a social change" in the outlook toward technology.44 The tensions between the notion of a "welfare state" as the provider and the expectation of a social movement from bottom up were writ large in the community program. The question was whether community programs and bureaucracy were a delivery mechanism for taking goods to the people or an instrument for building a ground-level aspiration.

The tensions were also evident in the alternating focus on goals versus the means by the community development planners and implementers. As [End Page 1042] the planners repeatedly emphasized, the goal of increased employment and increased production in the countryside was fundamental to the community program. But these planners worked within an ideological framework wherein they purposefully defined the means for reaching those goals. At different stages, Indian communitarians chose to emphasize the principle of "cooperation" or "cooperative development" (a preference coming out of freedom movement experience), and subsequently stressed an abiding commitment to another cardinal principle—that of working with the selfrepresentative institutions of panchayati raj. These tensions were never really resolved. The annual conference of community development in Srinagar in 1960 accepted the call for setting up discrete "village production plans" with a reinvigorated focus on multiplication and distribution of improved seeds, green manuring, use of improved agricultural implements, fuller utilization of irrigation facilities, land development through leveling, multiple cropping, and on hastening the pace of legislations for setting up self-representative institutions so that a process of "planning from below" could be accelerated. Krishnamachari sent a message to conference participants in Srinagar asking to adopt an integrated approach, synthesizing the multiple elements of goal and means. The country could solve its food problem, he said, "if we organize village cooperatives, panchayats, and practice scientific methods and the latest techniques, which is the main object of the C.D. Programme."45 S. K. Dey, community development minister, put the tensions in perspective, maintaining that the process of building social democracy was an important one. But reportedly, he also emphasized that "democracy in India would be judged in the ultimate analysis . . . by the extent to which the country was able to accelerate food production."46

The ideological orientation with regard to social democracy partly came from Gandhian sensibilities. The Planning Commission had important personalities that gave voice to the Gandhian perspective and made sure that the new administrative steps on "development" did not deviate too far from them. There were also elements outside the Planning Commission that enjoyed substantial popular appeal and exerted influence on the Planning Commission's decision-making from the outside. A prominent voice among these was the Gandhian socialist Jayaprakash Narayan, who published his thesis, titled "A Plea for Reconstruction of India Polity," in 1958. Narayan's thesis was a critique of Western democracy and spoke in favor of creating an alternate framework of participatory democracy in India based on an organization of communitarian life.47 The social commitment was also important to some of the career civil servants who participated in the execution of the project. Looking back at the long-term [End Page 1043] evolution of planning in India, career civil servant Tarlok Singh—someone who was very closely involved with the formulation and execution of the first three plans, of which the community development was a centerpiece—approvingly characterized planning in India as "the search for a larger unity." "In India," Singh recalled, "the aims of development have included from the beginning the building of a new society and a genuine democracy of the people."48

A Discussion of Failure: "A Big Machine Not Working Smoothly"

At the time of the launch of Second Five Year Plan, the community project was coming to the close of its first phase. On 2 March 1956, intervening in the continuing parliamentary debate on the working of community development, parliamentarian Shri Raghavachari likened the community project network to "a big machine [that was] not working smoothly." By now, it was becoming customary to single out the "failure" of community projects in specific terms. Critics like Raghavachari actually believed that the community project was sound in principle. If technology was not spreading and the rural populace was not becoming enthused, they believed that it was on account of administrative or procedural lapses. Some argued that the solution lay in better training of personnel and cultivators. Others questioned the wisdom of overstretching the network and spreading resources thin. Their complaint was that the CD and NES networks were expanding too fast. The parliamentarians also located the problem in the type of bureaucracy. For example, some found the position of the district magistrate untenable as the executive head of community projects at the district level, and proffered solutions in terms of administrative and organizational shakeup. A few asked for more decentralization or bemoaned the lack of clear benchmarks to guide efforts.49

The government's own reports highlighted problems in specific areas. The benchmark survey of the Morsi Project in Madhya Pradesh was one of them.50 These specific reports were incorporated in the Planning Commission's Programme Evaluation Reports, and they pointed to areas of neglect. The program evaluation report of 1956 was an important one that clearly noted some of the shortcomings in reaching out to specific depressed sections.51 Referencing these reports, the parliamentarians highlighted the shortcomings. Some even questioned the integrity of those reports. A few made light of the positive comments by foreign visitors, saying that the government was directing the visitors to select areas that had done well. No [End Page 1044] doubt some of this was part of the normal parliamentary scrutiny and reflected separate visions of political parties. But in any case, the parliamentarians seemed constrained by their near-term vision, with their proposed solutions generally falling in the realm of changing the personnel or tweaking the administrative apparatus for community development.

The years from 1956 to 1957 turned out to be a turning point for the community project system in India, as the project was urgently called upon to answer the needs of agricultural production that were going unmet. In the first year of community projects, 1952–53, the food production for the nation as a whole had risen from 54 million tons to 58.3 million tons, and it rose to 68.7 million tons in 1954. But then it fell to 65.8 million tons the following year and further to 63.5 million tons in 1955–56. This trend was considered catastrophic in terms of the need to feed the nation, and it was a slap in the face for the postcolonial elites who bore responsibility to feed the sovereign nation. V. T. Krishnamachari, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, wrote to development commissioners who had gathered in Mussoorie that due to a decline in production the previous year, the price of food articles had risen by about 18 percent. Evidently community projects, which was one of the most expansive development networks of the postcolonial state, was called upon to respond to the crisis in food scarcity through reinforced attention to agricultural production. "The responsibility for carrying out programmes for increasing [food] production and stimulating savings rests with State Governments. The agency they have for this is the N.E.S. and Community Projects Organization," Krishnamachari emphasized to his top officials, giving them a clear purpose.52

To be precise, increasing food production was always one of the primary goals of community projects—even if it at times seemed at cross purposes with the other equally pertinent goal of creating a "welfare state" and building social democracy from the bottom up. In some ways, the evolution and ground-level working of community projects brought into relief some of its internal programmatic and ideological tensions. It was not so much that there were clear camps into which the major players were divided. Indeed, the same individuals at different times or even at the same time vouched for the explicitly political and social goal of "building democracy" or, alternatively, the more intently productivist goal of raising production through technology in the community project.

To the extent community programs had to deliver on food production specifically, technology had to be tethered to the actual task of agricultural production. And the trained village level worker (or VLW) was the human vector who would take technology to the farmers and inspire them to embrace technology to raise production. Describing the significance of extension "movement" in 1954, V. T. Krishnamachari explained that the VLWs [End Page 1045] would bring the virtues of "modern scientific methods to the door of agriculturists" to enable them to engage in "intensive agriculture." The Indian farmer's productivity was low on account of his lack of use of scientific methods. Science, delivered through VLWs, was the panacea.53 M. S. Randhawa, a development commissioner in the Punjab who would go on to become a leading voice in the later turn toward the "green revolution" model of resource-intensive agriculture, explained extension as "a system where people are motivated to . . . help themselves by applying science in their daily lives, in farming, home-making and community living." A major task performed by the VLWs in this regard was to urge farmers toward "the adoption of improved scientific practices on their farms" and homestead.54 The optimism of planners was based on the assumption that once technology was available, the cultivators would readily embrace it. Whether this happened or not is an open question. And that, in fact, gets to the heart of the historiographical question around technological modernization in South Asia.

Tapping into the Non-elite Perspective: Frank Shuman at Allahabd Agricultural Institute

Turning attention to expert practices at the ground level offers the possibility to scrutinize the "politics of negotiation" in which experts and agrarian subalterns engaged. Contrary to the state actors discussed above, whose acts are recognizably political, this section turns to the play of politics at levels removed from state structures—the realm of a politics of negotiation, enacted to implement preferred schemes of improvement on the ground. Along these lines, South Asianists have emphasized "resistance" from subordinated classes in the process of engagement and negotiation with dominant social formations. The elite narratives of technomodernity are imbued not only with fleeting moments of appearance of the subaltern voice, but also active moments of negotiation. Limited as these instances are, they nonetheless open the possibility of recovering those counter narratives that resist the universalistic claims made on behalf of techno-modernity. These discordant voices give representation to the will of the subaltern subject-agent, the will "that the dominant [discourses of modernity] suppress and overpower but do not constitute." This will is "that impossible thought, figure, or action without which the dominant discourse cannot exist."55 It is possible to argue that despite the top-down orientation of statist improvement projects, the under classes showed agency in their acts of negotiation and in their broad effort to push at the boundaries of technocratic narratives. As Uday Chandra rightly argues, [End Page 1046] these were reflective of the subalterns' more agentic negotiation, not negation, through which the subordinate classes sought to negotiate their subjecthood and engaged the dominant social formation from below in an attempt to make a concrete change to their lives. Their acts of resistance are not homogenous, but rather full of ambiguities. They may not be evidently purposeful, nor may their acts always lead to amelioration of their lived conditions. But "the failure of resistance ought to be differentiated from the failure to resist."56

A more reflexive reading of the archives is obviously required in order to detect voices of negotiation from below. Such an approach may enable us to avoid writing the history of community development as an uncomplicated, unproblematic, unfolding of a modernist project. If so done, we will end up neglecting the real conflicts over resources and justice, in both socio-economic and cultural terms, the conflicts that are actually inherent to the carrying out of "progressivist" programs but are written out of archives that promote narratives of unhindered modernization.

The case of the American Point Four expert in India, Frank H. Shuman, complicates the picture of experts as the unchallenged actor on the ground or a sovereign of the universal will. Shuman was a College of Agriculture faculty member from the University of Illinois, stationed at Allahabad Agricultural Institute (AAI). The presence of American extension specialists like Shuman in India was pervasive in the 1950s. They were functioning in the role of advisers to the central government, as planners of statewide and district-wide community projects, as top-tier trainers of village level workers for community projects, as technical and social-scientific experts who offered input on specific questions, and as executors of impact studies.57 Timothy Mitchell's work on USAID workers in Egypt creates the impression of American experts as monopolizing all of the technological and managerial imperatives.58 In contrast, Frank Shuman's case as an American expert at AAI presents a different picture. His own account of his work reveals how expert practices intersected with preexisting institutional and technological momentums on the one hand, and with settled convictions about farming on the ground on the other hand.

The Allahabad Agricultural Institute was established in the United Provinces of colonial India in 1912 by American missionaries, and later formed early linkages with the United States-backed program of community development in India.59 The U.S. State Department's inter-university [End Page 1047] program and the Ford Foundation's arrangements with the University of Illinois facilitated Shuman's arrival in India. As Shuman wrote, a combination of cosmopolitan empathy and fortuitous circumstances ensured his arrival in India. "EVEN IF I WANTED TO, I could not have said no when I was offered a two-year assignment at the Allahabad Agricultural Institute," Shuman recalled later, reminiscing about why he went to India in the first place.60 Shuman had heard of Allahabad Institute from his father, an Illinois farmer, who was a benefactor of the Christian Allahabad Institute. Like his father, Shuman too was driven to do something in the field of agriculture in India. Another University of Illinois graduate with whom Shuman was also acquainted, Arthur T. Mosher, had preceded him at Allahabad. It was Mosher who helped set up the extension-training program at Allahabad Institute in 1952 and later encouraged Shuman to come to Allahabad.61 When the formal offer of an appointment at Allahabad came from the U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration, Shuman found himself ready and willing to take the plunge.62

Shuman's experience at Allahabad from 1953 to 1955 showcases the early shape of the extension program in India. Much as in rest of India, the picture of extension emerging out of Shuman's experience—as a fragment—appears remarkably heterogeneous. Two paths are available to us to assess Shuman's work at the Allahabad Institute and the complicated terrain of community projects. One possible path lies in examining the agentic position of Shuman vis-à-vis the momentum of existing institutions and programs in 1950s India. A second potential path of analysis lies in the examination of Schuman's initiatives and works as he reached out to the farmers and tenants in the environs of Allahabad. Shuman, it would seem, had to deal with two "momentums." One was the momentum of the Indian state's existing programs on community projects, whose impact was also writ large on a local institution such as the Allahabad Institute. The overwhelming presence of Nehru at the top of the Indian administration and the general political consensus around his leadership facilitated the state's bold steps in agricultural experimentation, including in community development. The second momentum that Shuman had to deal with was that of the local scientific program that was already in place at Allahabad.

How did American extension specialists like Frank Shuman orient themselves to the programmatic and institutional expansion of community projects in India, even as they were ensconced within local, individual institutions? Shuman's own account of his work in India provides entry to two types of narratives in this regard. One is that of a forlorn expert seemingly [End Page 1048] at the receiving end of larger momentums. The other narrative, though triumphalist on the surface, gestures toward a "rift" with local subjectivities.

"The first part of my job, as I saw it, was to have "something to extend"; so wrote Shuman referring to the indeterminate nature of his task on arrival in India.63 He had come to India on the top of a long and distinguished career as a county agent of extension services in Illinois. On his way to Allahabad on an automobile from the nearest airport in Benares, he had seen "hunger signs" on the planted crops which, he deduced, reflected nitrogen starvation. He had previously seen such signs on crops in Illinois, after just 100 years of continuous cultivation. In India, where civilization was thousands of years old and where agriculture had been practiced continuously on tracts like Allahabad's without much rejuvenation, the soil must be essentially "hungry." His specialty was soil, and this is where he was intuitively at his best. That is the field within which he wanted to experiment, learn, and contribute the most.

Whatever Shuman's plans and specialization, he was called upon to lead the training program for extension workers at the Allahabad Institute. Having been a county agent, he had not anticipated a role as a leader of a training program. Allahabad Institute was one of the leading centers of agricultural research and experiment in postcolonial India with an infrastructure that was comparable to the best in the country. The government chose it to run one of thirty-four centers for the training of VLWs. Frank Shuman was selected to be the director of the workers' training program at Allahabad, and this remained his core responsibility as long as he stayed at Allahabad. "I had to devise teaching methods," Shuman wrote about how he found his way in this new territory.64 Over the next two years, he developed a new curriculum for extension trainees at Allahabad.

Aside from leading extension training programs, Shuman also engaged with actual extension work in the villages surrounding Allahabad. The institute had been running a department of extension of its own. And it is this part of Shuman's extension work that gradually came to align with the scientific and productivist program at Allahabad, and to build on it. He was convinced of the need to reach out to villagers in the adjoining areas to help them improve farming. He tapped into the scientific knowledge of local soil that the institute had collected over the years and absorbed lessons learned in the in-house experiment on local crops. He referred especially to the information generated on experimental plots designed by George Dungan, another University of Illinois agronomist whose sojourn at Allahabad coincided with Shuman's.65 He also referenced the work of a third Illinois agronomist at Allahabad, Professor M. H. Alexander. [End Page 1049]

The "amazing" crop yield obtained at the institute's experimental farms convinced Shuman that the solution to India's poverty lay with obtaining "bigger yields."66 It was this lesson of higher yield through scientific management of farms—a conviction rooted in decades of work by Presbyterian missionaries at Allahabad—that Shuman wanted to carry to the villagers in his extension work. There is a triumphalist tone to the way Shuman describes the personal success he believed he achieved with villagers of every station and his ability to persuade them to change their methods of cultivation. Within ten days of arriving in India, he reports that he traveled to Rampur to stay overnight at the house of one M. Siddiqui, a village level worker of the community project. Facilitated by Siddiqui's intercession, Shuman set up demonstration plots on the land of a tenant, R. Singh. The demonstration focused on the positive effect of nitrogen application to the growth of jowar (sorghum). Six weeks later, as Shuman describes, he awoke to a pounding on his door in the middle of the night. There he found the tenant, Singh, who had walked twelve miles to come speak with him. Reportedly, with much excitement he informed Shuman of the positive results he had obtained on the demonstration field. The next day, Shuman traveled to Singh's village "to share Mr. Singh's pleasure in the beautiful response that his jowar had made to the nitrogen."67

Shuman reports another success story, this time relating his interaction with an elderly woman, the "mother-in-law" of a tenant in Sirsa village. Shuman does not refer to the woman by name despite the fact that she was the foil of his triumphalist narrative and thus a central actor. He recounts that on a visit to a jowar demonstration plot, he observed that the seedlings were planted too close to get enough sunlight and nutrients. He therefore counseled that the number of seedlings per acre should be brought down from 60,000 to 30,000. Shuman's suggestion invited the wrath of the "mother-in-law." "The American is a fool," she said, reportedly, as she countered Shuman's expert opinion. In many ways, women such as the mother-in-law were the repositories of traditional knowledge, and her interaction with Shuman, as represented by the latter, spotlights the supposed engagement of Shuman's "modernity" with what modernity was trying to displace. Shuman writes with ample condescension that he tried to explain the anomaly, saying to the elderly woman that "if ten children were given a small bowl of rice containing only enough for two children, all would go hungry." His advice, in his reckoning, worked in the end. When Shuman returned to the field a week after the pruning down of numbers, not only did he find the crops in a better health, but the mother-in-law was also a convert to his ideas. "I have changed my mind," she said, "I did not understand. The field is beautiful [now]."68 [End Page 1050]

It is important to highlight here the fact that Shuman, the narrator of this interaction, also turns out to be the "narrative maker" for this slice of history. We do not have access to the mother-in-law's direct observation, or an ability to discover here what motivated her to respond the way she did to Shuman (in case it was truly reported). In other words, the subaltern does not represent herself. In the absence of the direct voice of subalterns, South Asianists have turned to analyzing the enmeshed triumvirate of history, politics, and culture as sites from where to assemble the subaltern's identity and self-making. The approach requires looking for "unsophisticated, down market, often not-intended-for-print" texts that may require a different literary and aesthetic judgment than the ones used for high literary and intellectual histories. Such literature reflecting popular culture and regional cultural formation may be one source where such self-making and cultural formations can be located that were in contest with the constitution of technological modern.69 But even in the absence of such self-representations of non-Brahmin and Dalit castes, one may resort to analyzing modernist texts such as Shuman's with a sensitivity that requires first not assuming the text's representation of the subaltern's voice as pre-political.

How can we counterbalance Shuman's triumphalist narrative with possible alternate voices available in his text? Shuman certainly suggests an effort by the unnamed mother-in-law, purportedly a subaltern, to engage his advice for jowar cropping. The mother-in-law's evaluative criteria of the field being "beautiful" also suggests a slight digression from a straightforward productivist goal. Multiple interpretations are indeed possible instead of Shuman's alone, which was that the subaltern capitulated to his superior advice most akin to the path laid down by techno-modernity. Did the subaltern reach her moment of truth as she capitulated to Shuman's modernist vision, saying she had changed her mind? Or was this a case of the dominant player tactically subsuming the subaltern's voice to serve the cause of the "modern"? There is a third possibility for interpreting the mother-in-law's voice in Shuman's text, pivoting on her stated evaluative criteria. It is possible that she was trying to assert a modicum of control in defining what counts for a successful field. Stating that the field looked "beautiful," even while agreeing with Shuman's technical advice on space between seedlings, she might have asserted that control in the realm of meanings (fig. 3).

Maintaining that evaluative frame, even while conceding ground on the shared desire for increased yields, shows the tenacity of the subaltern's world of meanings. Was she trying to turn the plane of conversation with Shuman? Had she challenged the will of the modern, defying this attempt [End Page 1051]

Fig. 3. Community Development—Marooned? (Source: Kurukshetra 5, no. 10 [July 1957]: 2.)
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Fig. 3.

Community Development—Marooned? (Source: Kurukshetra 5, no. 10 [July 1957]: 2.)

at building hegemony? Questions on this political and cultural plane show the interpretive space created by postcolonial questions in South Asia. These are the questions that get left out of many accounts of technology's "transfer" from the global north to the postcolonial nations and in stories of postcolonial development. [End Page 1052]

Conclusion: Acceptance of Failure—the Path Forward?

The resolution moved by Raghubir Sahai to debate the efficacy of community development projects in the Parliament was ultimately withdrawn. But the Estimates Committee of the Indian Parliament, a watchdog committee in the House, took up the subject for further investigation. It presented its detailed report to the Parliament in four parts in 1956–57, making a total of 181 suggestions for change.

There were additional criticisms of the project that came in from foreign experts, policy-makers, politicians, and citizens. A cartoon in the Community Development Department's publication (see figure 3) caricaturized the state of confusion coming out of criticism from all corners that had thrown community project into a state of stasis. The project seemed to be frozen, with no decisions being made to carry it forward. This crisis of confidence led to further audit of the community development project by a new committee under the chairmanship of Balwantrai Mehta. Mehta submitted his report in 1958, calling for a complete overhaul of the community project. Accordingly, the community development project was re-launched under a changed administrative setup from 1 January 1959 that shifted the focus from "community" to "village" and put a very strong emphasis on the involvement of local self-representative institutions at the village level to devise plans for development. The "block" infrastructure of NES was retained but the apparatus was repackaged in terms of objectives and methods for the implementation of developmental projects. This definitely marked the end of the first phase of "community development" in India.

At the end of 1960 when Nehru met his state ministers in charge of the revamped community development project, he reflected on what had gone wrong with the project in the first phase, arguing that concentrating power in the hands of state bureaucrats was the worst thing that had happened to the community projects. "I have been angry with many things," he said, "angry at the expansion on a big scale, more offices being opened and more officials, more jeeps, more this and more that." He pointed to the overbureaucratization and centralization that community projects had built for themselves over time. Officialdom had taken the "colour" out of what was to be a decentralized apparatus. Nehru averred that willing participation in development could be created through self-representative institutions going forward.70 That is what the Balwantrai Mehta committee proposed for implementation. The Indian state left space for "negotiation," and these spaces would continue to define the nature of Indian developmentalism going forward. The mutual alignment of Point Four, the postcolonial state, and extension network in India offers insight into this characteristic of the early developmentalist state in India. [End Page 1053]

Prakash Kumar

Prakash Kumar is an associate professor of history and Asian studies at Pennsylvania State University with interest in the history of agrarian development and modernization in colonial and postcolonial India. He would like to thank Suzanne Moon and anonymous referees for their feedback that went into improving this article.

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_____. "Uses of Scientific Argument: The Case of 'Development' in India, c. 1930–1950." Economic and Political Weekly 36, no. 39 (29 September-5 October 2001): 3689–3702.

Footnotes

1. "Community Projects, a Vital Task," 4.

2. On "depoliticization," see James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine; Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts. For a similar debate in South Asia, see Kalyan Sanyal, Rethinking Capitalist Development; Partha Chatterjee, "Rethinking Postcolonial Capitalist Development," 105–6.

3. At his inauguration on 20 January 1949, President Harry Truman launched the United States' policy of providing technical aid (as opposed to economic aid) to postcolonial nations. The programs under the new policy came to be referred to as "Point Four" programs, a name taken from the fourth position in the list of foreign policy objectives mentioned in the Truman inaugural speech. On 5 January 1952, India signed a bilateral agreement with the United States for receiving technical aid for several sectors of development. For the early beginnings and initial shape of Point Four program, see Stephen Macekura, "The Point Four Program"; "Technical Cooperation Program, India: Chronology of Indo-American Agreements," Financing and Organization, 29 September 1953, Record Group 469, Box 1, in AIDPA; For the role of American foundations in the establishment of the earliest community project at Etawah, see Nicole Sackley, "Foundation in the Field"; and Sackley, "Village Models"; For a recent treatment of communitarian ideals in American foreign policy and the export of these ideals to postcolonial nations like India, see, Daniel Immerwahr, Thinking Small. Immerwahr identifies the ideological underpinnings of community projects with "villagism" that imbued Gandhian thought and had wide acceptance in India; see Immerwahr, Thinking Small, 70. For "development" as a handmaiden of "modernization," from a U.S. diplomatic history perspective, see Immerwahr, "Modernization and Development," 22–25.

4. "Resolution, 9 December, 1955," Sahai's comments on 2059.

5. "Resolution, 2 March, 1956," Shri Thimmaiah's comments on 1418. The reference to scheduled castes and tribes tapped into the language used in the Indian constitution to refer to the socially marginalized classes that are more recently identified in historiography under the umbrella category of Dalit.

6. Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine, 254–56, quote on 255.

7. Jeffrey Witsoe, Democracy Against Development; Partha Chatterjee, The Politics of the Governed; Chatterjee, "Democracy and Economic Transformation in India"; Lineages of Political Society.

8. David Ludden, "India's Development Regime." Ludden argues that the imperially instituted development regime on the subcontinent evolved in the years between 1823 and 1854. He argues that the development raj had matured by 1900.

9. David Ludden, "Development Regimes in South Asia," 4044.

10. Gyan Prakash, Another Reason, 34–45.

11. Benjamin Zachariah, "British and Indian Ideas of 'Development'"; Zachariah, "Uses of Scientific Argument"; Zachariah, Developing India. For analysis of "high Nehruvianism," see Benjamin Zachariah, Nehru; Subir Sinha, "Lineages of the Developmentalist State."

12. Partha Chatterjee, The Politics of the Governed; Chatterjee, "Democracy and Economic Transformation in India"; Chatterjee, Lineages of Political Society.

13. Uday Chandra, "Beyond Subalternity," quote on 53.

14. See the articles in the special issue of Journal of Contemporary Asia 45, no. 4 (2015).

15. The quote is from Indrajit Roy's book, wherein he examines the rural electrification project in Rahimpur village in West Bengal. Roy takes on James Ferguson's argument on depoliticization head on in its implication that development successfully depoliticizes populations. Indrajit Roy, Politics of the Poor, 294–302, 332–38, quote on 295. Implicit in Roy's larger argument is a contestation of the fact that improvement schemes are invariably opposed by the subordinate classes.

16. See also Amita Baviskar's account of tribal populations and Gail Omvedt's account of Dalits wishing to negotiate the final shape of development schemes with the state and elites. Amita Baviskar, In the Belly of the River; Gail Omvedt, Seeking Begumpura; Alpa Shah, In the Shadows of the State; Uday Chandra and Daniel Taghioff, eds., Staking Claims.

17. I. Roy, Politics of the Poor, 295; Ajantha Subramanian, Shorelines.

18. Sugata Bose, "Instruments and Idioms," quote on 48–49.

19. "Technical Cooperation Program, India: Chronology of Indo-American Agreements," Financing and Organization, 29 September 1953, RG 469, Box 1, in AIDPA.

20. "Confidential Security Information, Mutual Security Program, Project No. 6, Agricultural Extension," RG 469, Box 1, in AIDPA. As argued before, this was also inherently due to the inexpensive nature of projects selected and its focus on volunteer labor.

21. A letter presented to the United States Congress, referring to TCM budgeting for 1953, clarified that the next year's plan would "involve a shift from Community Development to Major Irrigation Projects," even though such changes would "not affect the basic nature or approach of the Technical Cooperation program in India." Letter from Norman Paul to Charles Wolf Jr. of TCM, 19 November 1952, "Congressional Presentation '53 DVC" folder, RG 469, Box 2, in AIDPA.

22. This aspect comes out clearly in Nick Cullather,The Hungry World.

23. The model and promise of American communitarian ideals were influential and hegemonic globally in the post-WW II decade. Daniel Immerwahr makes this point sufficiently clear. Immerwahr, Thinking Small, 66–100; a similar point is made in Cullather, The Hungry World, 76–94.

24. Proposed U.S. Assistance to India in FY 1954, Project No. 1, Agricultural Extension; Confidential Security Information, Mutual Security Program – Fiscal '54, India Illustrative Program No. 28, RG 469, Box 1, in AIDPA.

25. More detailed attention to these questions disturbs the picture of any American ownership and uncovers a history of community development with reference to what political scientist Srirupa Roy calls the "dynamic and fissured political field" in India. Srirupa Roy, Beyond Belief, 105–32, quote on 4; This quest for legitimacy aligns well with the reasoning advanced by Partha Chatterjee's explanation of state-initiated "development" projects. Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, 200–19.

27. Douglas Ensminger, "The Original Fifteen Pilot Extension Projects."

28. Clifford H. Wilson, director of U.S. Technical Cooperation Administration/Mission (TCM) in New Delhi and the top official of Point Four bureaucracy in India, referred to NES as the "new clothes for the community project." Wilson, "Widening Opportunities for the Indian Villages," quote on 7. The government's approach to "blocks" and "project areas" evolved over time. Eventually, they were swept aside by a specific government notification in 1957 that did away with the distinction between project areas and blocks. Revision in the Programme of Community Development.

29. K. Balachandran, "The National Extension Service," 28–30.

30. Report of the Grow More Food Enquiry Committee, 49–57. This was the terminal report for the colonial era Grow More Food campaign, first launched in 1942, to help India get over war time food scarcities, which was further extended by the Indian government after independence. The campaign ended in 1951.

31. Douglas Ensminger, "The Bhadson Pilot Extension Project."

32. Carl C. Taylor, "Community Development: Programmes and Methods."

33. Anil De, "Purists Versus Pragmatists." Taylor saw the obsession of project officers in India with meeting of targets as a limitation, something that enervated the community spirit. Carl C. Taylor, "Questions & Answers."

34. McKim Marriott, "Community Projects Uniquely Indian."

35. "Letter to the Edito."

36. S. K. Dey, "On Return from Abroad," 16.

37. Ibid.

38. David Hardiman, Gandhi in His Time and Ours, 72–77; Mahatma Gandhi, Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, 46–50, 62–65, 107–11, 164–70; Dey, "On Return from Abroad," 16.

39. Dey, "On Return from Abroad," 38.

40. Prakash, Another Reason, 34–40. Drawing on Michael Foucault and Martin Heidegger, Prakash deliberately deploys the word "technic" to refer to technology in order to draw attention to the disciplining and governing potential of artifacts.

41. Prakash, Another Reason, 201–37.

42. "Tests of Success," quote on 41; "Integrated Approach to Rural Life," quote on 46.

43. Report of the Grow More Food Enquiry Committee, 51.

44. "Address by Shri V. T. Krishnamachari," quote on 7.

45. "Message from Shri V. T. Krishnamachari," 48.

46. "Summary of the Speech," quote on 55.

47. Jayaprakash Narayan, A Plea for Reconstruction of Indian Polity.

48. Tarlok Singh, India's Development Experience, xiii.

49. "Resolution, 2 March, 1956," quote on 1403.

50. Report on the Bench Mark Survey.

51. Evaluation Report on Working of Community Projects, 3, 4.

52. V. T. Krishnamachari, "Role of Agriculture"; "Address by Shri V. T. Krishnamachari," 6.

53. V. T. Krishnamachari, "The National Extension Movement," quotes on 95–96.

54. M. S. Randhawa, "Extension Training."

55. Gyan Prakash, "Subaltern Studies as Postcolonial Criticism," quotes on 1483.

56. Chandra, "Beyond Subalternity," 65.

57. The United States dispatched its first two "technicians" for extension work in India in 1950, even before the Point Four agreements with India were in place. Already in 1953, this number had gone up to 37. "Project No. 1: Agricultural Extension," pp. 1–7, RG 286, Box 1, in AIDPA.

58. Mitchell, Rule of Experts.

59. Gary H. Hess, Sam Higginbottom of Allahabad; Sam Higginbottom, Sam Higginbotton, Farmer.

60. Frank H. Shuman, Extension for the PEOPLE OF INDIA. This was the report submitted by Frank Shuman once he returned to University of Illinois upon completion of tenure in India.

61. Arthur T. Mosher Jr., The Life and Works of Arthur T. Mosher, 1.

62. Point Four Committee, Allahabad Institute, 1951–52, 24/2/11, Box 1, in IAP.

63. Shuman, Extension for the PEOPLE OF INDIA, 2.

64. Ibid., 3.

65. George H. Dungan, "Sowing Seeds of Kindness"; Shuman, Extension for the PEOPLE OF INDIA, 3.

66. Shuman, Extension for the PEOPLE OF INDIA, 9.

67. Ibid., 10.

68. Ibid., 22–23.

69. Partha Chatterjee, "After Subaltern Studies," 44–49. For one key example of such works, focused on the case of Dalits in Maharashtra, see Anupama Rao, The Caste Question; for methodological questions pertinent to recovery of Dalit voices, see Rao, "Who is the Dalit?"

70. "Address by Prime Minister," quote on 62.

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Print ISSN
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1027-1058
Launched on MUSE
2019-11-22
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