Economic Development and Individual Change: A Social-Psychological Study of the Comilla Experiment in Pakistan by Schuman Howard. (Occasional Papers in International Affairs, Number 15) Cambridge: Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University, 1967. pp.59. US$ 2.00.

Author: S. R. Bose
Publication Year : 1967

Rural East Pakistan is confronted with poverty, population pressures, fragmentation of land, indebtedness and inefficient farming, all of which conspire to depress productivity in rural areas. The Comilla Academy for Rural Development has been working since 1960 on a pilot programme to stimulate productivity through village cooperatives in Kotwali Thana of Comilla district in East Pakistan. Here is a report by an American sociologist who tests the results of the Comilla experiment on individual attitudes and values. He finds fundamental ‘modernizing’ changes in motivation and value among the villagers in the pilot area. The basic structure of the Academy programme consists of primary cooperatives at the village level, which are joined to a Central Association, linked to the Academy, and possess outside funds from government and other sources. Members of the primary cooperatives jointly save and borrow money and rent modern machinery, although land remains individually owned. Rather than concentrating on sending extension officers, the programme encourages cooperatives to choose their own leaders for various roles and then attempts to expose these ‘natural leaders’ to new ideas, values and techniques, which they, in turn, will communicate to others. The programme includes a project on family planning, which is connected with still other projects such as women’s education in mutually-reinforcing ways. The various projects undertaken by the Academy give the total programme a comprehensiveness that is supposed to make the average villager, through a series of pressures and incentives, change his methods of farming, his ideas and values.

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