Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)

The Integrated Rural Development Program aims to uplift rural communities through comprehensive development initiatives.
IRDP Scheme
4 min

In the post-independence era, India’s growth has been fuelled by various sectors of the economy. However, one aspect that has remained constant is the concentration of people in rural areas and their relatively slow growth compared to metropolitan cities. Over the years, the government has introduced several schemes targeted at this demographic, like the IRDP scheme, which has seen varying levels of success.

According to the latest data from 2021, approximately 65% of India’s population still resides in rural areas. Of these, 47% are engaged in the agriculture sector. Thus, focusing on rural development has always been imperative. In this article, we will take a closer look at the IRDP programme, IRDP full form, understand its objectives and benefits, and analyse how it impacted rural communities.

Let us begin by learning IRDP full form.

IRDP full form and overview

IRDP full form stands for the Integrated Rural Development Program. It was first introduced by the Government of India in 1978 and implemented in 1980, and the programme lasted until 1999. The central objectives of IRDP were to provide job opportunities to deprived people and families in rural areas. In its approach, it sought to achieve this not only through the provision of subsidies but also by actively assisting people in enhancing their living standards.

The programme provided opportunities to work, enhance skills and encourage people to actively work towards improving their lives. Targeted at people below the poverty line, it is hailed as one of the most prominent schemes of the government to alleviate poverty.

Objectives of IRDP

As discussed when learning about IRDP full form, the core objectives of IRDP were to help deprived people in the rural areas, assist them in generating additional income, and ultimately bring them above the poverty line. The entire country was covered under the IRDP scheme, and a five-year plan was charted out for each district. The implementation in each district was led by the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA), along with other block-level agencies.

The DRDAs in each district are governed by a mixed body consisting of local MLAs and MPs, Zila Parishad chairperson, representatives from women’s groups and from among the scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), among others. Being led at the local level, the objectives of IRDP can be highlighted as follows:

  • Improve the living standard of people below the poverty line in the rural areas.
  • Provide long-term employment.
  • Enhancing small-scale industries in the rural areas.
  • Improve agricultural production.

These objectives were expected to be achieved by supporting the rural population in multiple ways. Two of the most prominent methods were subsidies or loans and promoting self-employment opportunities. In addition to these methods, the IRDP scheme also incorporated the development of poultry and livestock rearing activities and aided the setting up of cottage industries in village areas.

While the information provided until now, such as IRDP’s full form and objectives, was aimed at providing a basic understanding of the IRDP scheme, we will now delve into understanding more about the implementation and scope of the program by looking at the groups who benefited under the purview of the scheme and the various subsidies that were provided to enhance the living conditions in rural areas.

Beneficiaries under the IRDP programme

The IRDP programme was designed to cater to the rural population and promote their development and growth. The plan was implemented at the district and block levels and covered people under the poverty line. The beneficiaries under the IRDP scheme included:

  • Labourers
  • Marginal farmers
  • Rural artists
  • Scheduled castes
  • Scheduled tribes
  • Other backward classes that have a yearly income under Rs. 11,000

Subsidies under the IRDP scheme

One of the major components of the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) was the provision of subsidies to people. Subsidies have several benefits and are often a great way to ensure desired implementation of schemes. Under IRDP, financial aid in the form of subsidies, credit lines, and loans was provided to the needy. The financial aid provided was allotted according to the identified group’s specific needs. The guidelines for subsidy distribution were as follows:

  • Financial institutions, like banks, extended a 25% subsidy to the small farmers that fall under the first target group.
  • In the second target group, agricultural labourers, artisans, and marginal farmers could receive a 33.5% subsidy.
  • The last group, which contained SCs and STs, along with people with physical disabilities, qualified for a 50% subsidy.

After learning about the benefits and subsidies provided under the IRDP scheme and its objectives, it becomes clear that the IRDP programme was an ambitious plan. Over time, the scheme saw moderate to low success overall. As a result, it was discontinued in 1999 and merged with five other programs to form the ​​Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana.


The IRDP scheme was a significant effort by the Indian government to alleviate poverty and improve rural livelihoods. Launched in 1978, the IRDP scheme aimed to provide job opportunities and enhance living standards for those below the poverty line in rural areas. Despite facing implementation challenges and varying levels of success, IRDP served as a valuable lesson for future rural development initiatives. It was eventually discontinued in 1999 but was integrated into the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana.

The IRDP scheme is a testament to the Government of India’s continued commitment to rural upliftment and remains relevant for shaping inclusive growth policies in rural communities.

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