Traditional Bases of Rural Leadership 

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Traditional Bases of Rural Leadership 


In order to study the traditional nature of rural leadership in India and the present form of leadership on a comparative basis, it is necessary to first discuss those traditional forms of rural leadership which have remained an integral part of rural leadership for a long period. The present nature of leadership can be understood only in comparison with these characteristics.


Caste Status –

The impact of caste stratification has been most evident in the rural structure of India. Traditionally, only influential persons belonging to the upper castes were entitled to lead in the village. In a low caste no matter how powerful, resourceful or talented a person was, it was very difficult to accept him as a leader or headman in the village.


Size and Prestige of the Family

The size and prestige of the family has been an important factor in the rural structure, according to which a person has been getting a special status in the rural leadership. As the size of the family gets bigger, its members not only get extra time for leadership but also increase the chances of getting the support of more people in each situation. On the other hand, if the person is a member of a distinguished family, then other people of the village normally accept his supremacy. It is believed in the village that the members of the reputed family are more talented, virtuous and tactful and they can solve their problems easily.


Old Person-

Age has been a major pillar of rural leadership since very early times. Several studies confirm that the traditional rural leadership was in the hands of the upper age groups. An older person in the village is not only considered experienced and respected, but it is also considered necessary to know his views in any decision. There is a perception of the general public that the elders are the keeper of the traditions, so the leadership given by them is more useful and meaningful.


Economic Status –

The economic status of a person has also been of special importance in the determination of rural leadership. Rural life is an impact-ridden life. Here, the person who helps in fulfilling the economic needs of the common people or giving them spiritual help from time to time, soon his authority is established over the common villagers. Perhaps this is the reason why the traditional rural leadership is generally based on large landowners and . Limited to the Sahakars only. If a person challenges the leadership of the financially wealthy, he has to face very difficult primary problems.


Traditional Knowledge –

Due to the large number of trained persons in the village, those persons are looked at with great respect, who are in the village soon. Perhaps they are familiar with the traditions of this and are proficient in interpreting them efficiently. Even in the present era, a person with modernity and talent is not considered as important for rural life as a person who behaves in a traditional way. This is the reason that even the people living in the village after taking fresh education are not able to take up rural leadership unless they mold their life patterns according to the traditions.




Contact with wider World –

The life of most of the villagers is still simple, trained and isolated from the contact with the outside world. In such a situation, the general villager, for the fulfillment of his social, economic and educational needs, is dependent on those persons who, with the help of his external contacts, help in meeting the various needs of the villagers. Generally, if a person has any relation with the village patwari, police officer or other officials of the city, then he takes the leadership of the villagers by helping them from time to time and giving them new information. There are frequent quarrels and disputes in the villages regarding land, property and other assets. Due to the lack of proper knowledge of the judicial process of the villagers, the people who help them in the judicial process also easily get village leadership.


(Manifold Personality) – Personal characteristics of an individual also play an important role in determining rural leadership. A person who continues to participate in the village public life and who has a greater ability to mediate at the time of a dispute. He gets more chances to become a leader.Similarly, helping the villagers in times of calamity, arranging wells or ponds in the village, treating the villagers politely and softly and respecting the elders of the village. etc. are such qualities which have been considered essential for traditional rural leadership.




Characteristics of Traditional Rural Leadership

From the very early times, rural leadership has been associated with many such characteristics, which can be seen in large groups.


Predominance of blood relations in rural leadership –

Traditionally, under rural leadership, the stability of blood groups and their primacy is clearly visible. It is true that every village must have a Mukhiya or Panch, but the behavior of individuals is most influenced by the leader who represents their lineage or kin. Practically in each rural and tribal area, each blood group has its own separate head and his job is to settle and guide the disputes of all the members of his group. As a result, rural life is divided into many factions on the basis of leadership, but this divided leadership has proved to be more successful in controlling the members of the group.


Effect of heredity –

Rural leadership has always been genetic in nature. It means that the person who once got the position of leader or chief in a group or the whole village, it usually gets transferred to the subsequent generations of the same. Change in leadership takes place only when a leader is either unable to fulfill the aspirations of the villagers or such character defects develop in him that it is considered harmful to recognize him as a leader.





Leadership divided into castes –

Traditionally in the villages of India, due to the great influence of the caste panchayat, each caste had its own separate leader, whose function is to control the behavior of all the members of its caste and punish or reward them as per the need. Was . From this point of view the leader of one caste was of no importance to the other castes, although on many occasions the leaders of different castes together took decisions related to public life in the village. Generally, all the flies of different castes worked together under a consensus leader. The post of the leader of the entire village was also available to a person belonging to a higher caste on the basis of the caste-system.


Predominance of Informal Control –

Informal control is a major feature of traditional rural leadership. Humor, satire, criticism, contempt and social boycott etc. have been the means which were widely used by the village leader to establish control. On some special occasions the village leader also had the right to inflict corporal punishment on the villagers, but this work was generally related to the sovereignty of the zamindars. (


The social character of leadership –

for a long time rural life in Marat was basically a socio-cultural life, not a political one. From this point of view, under the rural leadership, only those works which were related to customs, rituals, social behavior and adherence to the model rules of the society were of special importance. From this point of view the prestige of the village leader was not assessed on the basis of his political power but on the basis of his socio-cultural proficiency.


Reciprocity in Leadership –

Brown has made it clear that reciprocity has been a key element in India’s rural leadership. This means that the measurement of the leader’s influence on the followers in the villages is not one-sided, but the thoughts and feelings of the common villagers also influence the behavior of the leader to a great extent. This means that the leader and the followers in the village are a coordinated unit. In other words, the leader and leadership cannot be imagined by excluding the followers.


The primacy of prestige in leadership –

The element of prestige has been very important in the traditional rural leadership. In determining this reputation the morality of the person, the efficiency of work. The spirit of sincerity and service has been of special importance. On the basis of this moral power, the leader compels the ordinary villagers to perform some special kind of conduct. The rural leader considers it most necessary to destroy his reputation and from this point of view he does not want to do any such work which is against the public expectations.


All roundness in leadership

The nature of rural leadership is not as specialized as in the cities, the leader does all the work for his village which the villagers need, for example, making various plans, determining the policies, making necessary arrangements for marriages and festivals, as a specialist. Working in the office, controlling the behavior of the members, acting as a panch and mediator and representing the entire village on a particular occasion are the various functions of the leader. This is the reason that in rural life the leader is not an authority figure but a model of the group. The appropriate characteristics of rural leadership in India make it clear that the nature of leadership here has been largely informal. This informal leadership contributed constructively not only to the rural structure but also to the solution of rural problems and unity of different caste groups.



Emerging Patterns of Rural Leadership 


After independence, there has been a significant change in the traditional nature of rural leadership in India. Rural development for the establishment of a secular, egalitarian and democratic society after independence. was accepted as a major requirement. To achieve this goal, not only new development schemes were started in the villages, but the participation of villagers in social, political and official life was also considered essential. Due to the effect of this whole process, many such models started to develop under rural leadership which were completely lacking in traditional rural leadership. The nature of this important aspect related to the rural power structure can be better understood only after understanding these emerging patterns of leadership.


Emergence of Democratic Leadership:

Today a new democratic leadership has developed in the villages, in which the genetic status of the individual, land ownership and caste membership is not particularly important. The leadership of the village is now centered in those individuals who are elected by the ordinary villagers or who have the support of the majority. A special fact is that in this democratic leadership there is no clear distinction between the power or prestige of the leader and his followers. This means that the village leader is influenced by the aspirations of the villagers themselves as well as influencing other people by their behaviour. The leadership pattern in the village is now more secular and secular. The power of the leader is not explained on the basis of any religious scriptures or traditional beliefs, but on the basis of people’s aspirations and political policies. It is one such change in the rural leadership which has changed the nature of the entire rural power structure.


Importance of Education –

Till some time ago there was no importance of education even in leadership due to widespread illiteracy in rural areas. In today’s time, education is being considered essential for leadership. The reason for this is that due to the expansion in the field of economic, social and political relations in the village, good leadership is expected from the person who is educated. Under the new rules, now such instructions have been given from the state’s request that only an educated person can sit on the formal posts in the villages. Is . Pro . Yogendra Singh is of the view that due to the participation of young and educated persons in rural leadership, education is also being considered as an essential foundation of leadership. Hitchcock has also presented the conclusion on the basis of his study that the utility of the educated leader in the village has increased more than before. In another study Prof. Singh and Parikh found out that only that person in the village can become an Opinion Leader who is financed to some extent. It is clear from all these studies that only educated leaders have the trust of the villagers and they are considered more useful for rural life.


Specialization in Leadership –

One of the major changes that have emerged in rural leadership is that the entire power of the village is not concentrated in the Graz leader itself, but individual persons associated with each specific aspect of life and specific tasks are appointed as the leader. recognized as such. In fact, rural life has also become so diverse that different types of leaders are needed to meet different needs. For example, the head of the Gram Sabha, the Panch of the Nyaya Panchayat, the president of the cooperative society, the teacher of the school, the president of the youth board and the office-bearers of the welfare committees, etc. are such leaders in whom the leadership of the entire village is seen in a divided form. Doctor . Baijnath Singh has clarified on the basis of his study that the diversity of rural leadership is basically the result of implementation of community development plans.


Increasing Representation of the Youths –

An important change in rural leadership is that now a person does not need to have more age to become a leader. Until recently, the villagers believed that only strong and experienced person could become a leader, but now in most of the rural areas, the leadership is gradually being passed on to the youth. Probably the main reason for this is that after getting training and knowledge of the current innovations related to agriculture, when youth reaches the village, he easily becomes the advisor of the village and gradually takes over their leadership. The participation of youth is also highest in the rural development programs run by the government. Similar findings have been obtained from the study conducted by Inder Singh in Punjab and by Ranganath in Uttar Pradesh. Both these researchers have expressed the view that the importance of age in rural leadership of India is rapidly declining. In this regard, Lerner has pointed out that the leadership in rural life is still more concentrated among the older people. lake




Decline of the Impact of Land Ownership, Family and Caste –

Traditionally, rural leadership was concentrated only in those individuals who owned large lands, belonged to noble families or were high were members of the caste. In the present era such a model of rural leadership has developed in which these structures have no importance. In the democratic election system, the determination of leadership is now being done on the basis of numerical strength of a group. As a result of this, the representation of backward and scheduled castes is increasing continuously in the rural leadership of Graz. The participation of these castes in the rural leadership has also increased due to the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes at every level of the Panchayati Raj system.


Emphasis on Bureaucratic Leadership –

Due to the implementation of new development plans in the villages, a leadership has emerged which by its nature can be called bureaucratic or bureaucratic. For example, the role of village servant in villages has become very important as a result of community development programmes. Dr Dabe has addressed it as a ‘new leader’. According to you, the village servant is not expected to do the same work as a government officer, but still his role is becoming increasingly important in the field of influencing rural decisions and participating in development plans. Similarly, development block officers, planning officers and other workers related to planning have also encouraged new forms of leadership in villages. It is clear from the above discussion that not only new patterns of leadership have evolved in rural life, but there have also been changes in the circumstances which determine a particular form of leadership.

For example, due to the increase in the number of nuclear families in place of joint families, the importance of family in determining leadership has decreased. Due to the new laws of land ownership, the status of traditional landlords and big landowners has deteriorated. With the spread of socialist values, the small and marginal farmers of the village have started demanding rights which were not even possible till some time ago. After getting education in the cities, the youth living in the villages are spreading such ideas under which the traditional form of leadership cannot remain stable. It is true that the traditional village headmen are still trying to maintain their influence in the changing circumstances after exercising the rights related to the traditional rural leadership, but they could not get much success under these changed conditions. 




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