Case study of a rural district, Osmanabad

Background of the district

Historical context. Osmanabad district of Maharashtra state in India was formed in the year 1905. It was earlier known as Naldurg district. In the year 1853, it was temporarily ceded by the Nizam to the British Government and was reverted to Hyderabad state in 1860. Osmanabad got its name from the seventh Nizam-HEH Mir Oman Ali Khan, the last ruler of Hyderabad. In Marathi, Osmanabad is represented as “Usmanbad”; it is the city and the municipal council in Osmanabad district in the state of Maharashtra. Its oldest name Dharasiva is attributed to the famous Buddhist, and the “Dharasiva Caves” were built during the period of 5th-7th century, that were later attributed to the Jains.

Historically, the district was ruled by different kingdoms at different times. It was under the control of “The Mughal King Aurangzeb” before the Hyderabad Nizam’s rule entered the city. The state of Hyderabad, which is known as the “Pearl City,” was a Hindu majority state which was ruled by the Muslim Nizam. When India became independent in 1947, like the other states, the state of Hyderabad was also given the choice either to join India or Pakistan. The Nizam wanted neither. He wanted to remain independent. However different forces played out subsequently.

Syed Muhammad Qasim Rizvi, who had started an organization called “Razakars Militia” or “Razakars,” supported the Nizam of the royal state of Hyderabad. At the time of independence, on the one hand, Qasim Rizvi convinced the Nizam to settle his royal state to Pakistan instead of India and ordered the Razakars to fight against the Indian Forces. On the other hand, “Swami Ramanand Tirtha,” a social activist, opposed the Razakars and formed the “Andhra Hindu Mahasabha” who wanted the state to be with the rest of India.

Being a frontier district at the time of India’s independence, the district was loosely administered, and in Telangana and Marathwada region, many crimes took place. Rape, kidnapping, brutal murder of people, and demolition of place took place in the district. Due to various criminal activities of the Razakars, thousands of Hindus left the region and took shelter in various other camps. After a period, Sardar Vallahbai Patel, the Minister for Home Affairs of India, ordered for military action in the state of Hyderabad. Major General J.N. Chaudhuri of the Indian Army entered the state from five directions, and on September 18, 1948, Mir Laik Ali, the Prime Minister of the Nizam, and Qasim Rizvi were arrested. Later, Rizvi was granted to move to Pakistan.

Although the territorial issues were resolved, the memories of brutal attack and pain seemed to have lingered in the minds of people. Conflicts between the Hindu-Muslims, caste-based crimes, and crime against Dalits had been common in the district. The outrageous behaviors were targets toward the specific households, family, or individual. In the state, Maratha identity is divided into two broad groups, viz., dominant Marathas, who give themselves the identity with Shivaji and his martial tradition, and Kumbi or Peasant Marathas, who are poorer and considered as lower in the social hierarchy.

Geography and natural resources. The district is the southernmost district in Aurangabad division of Maharashtra state situated between 17° 35' and 18° 49 north latitude and 75° 16' and 76° 40 east longitude. It is bounded on the southwest by Sholapur district, on the northwest by Ahmednagar district, on the northeast by Nanded district, and on the south by Bidar and Gulbarga district of Karnataka state.

A large portion of the Osmanabad district lies on the triangular Balaghat plateau, about 610 m above sea level, sloping toward south and east. It forms a water divide between the Godavari and Bhima valleys. Since the district is largely on a plateau, the streams that originate here benefit mostly areas outside the district.

From 15.41 km2 of forest cover in 1972, forest cover in the district has gone up to 50.53 km2as in 2011. The annual rainfall in the district was between 600 mm and 1,000 mm during 1901-1960. The rainfall seems to be coming down in recent decades ranging between 600 mm and 850 mm. The average rainfall in recent years is about 765 mm, with rainfall in some years being 50% of average or less. Soils have been mostly infertile.

The geographical extent of the district has changed several times in history due to several changes. It currently occupies an area of 7,569 km2, of which 241.4 km2 is urban and the rest is rural. There are eight taluka’s in the administration division, 729 villages, and 622 Gram Panchayats. The district has certain principal crops such as cereals, pulses, oil seeds, and sugarcane. The district forms the part of Godavari Basin and Manjra Subbarin. Manjra, Sina, Terna, Bori, Bcnitura, and Banganga are the main rivers flowing through the district.

The soil of the district is generally developed from Deccan Trap Basalt, and the soils developed in the districts are mainly categorized with three major types: shallow soil, medium soil, and medium deep soil. Groundwater has been the major part for agricultural development in the state of Maharashtra. The ground- water level in some parts of the state had reached a critical condition because of the failure of monsoons.

Cultural heritage. The district has some well-developed tourist and religious places as temples, mosques, and other scared places that of the Jain and Buddhist communities. Tulja Bhavani Mandir (temple) located in Tuljapur hills has been one of the major attractions for pilgrims from all over the country. Built in the period of the 12th century, the temple is of Hemadpanthi style of architecture. It has been dedicated to the Goddess “Bhavani.” It exhibits a rich cultural heritage of both Nizam and Hindu or Marathi culture. The district has been known for different folk dances like Gondhal, Lavni, Jogwa, and many more.

Traditional hand weaving fabric of Osmanabad was of high quality, which was particularly used as dress material by the noble class ofyester years. It was popular for its fine fabrics, which was made up of cotton and silk, using special loom and threads of silver, and gold is so fine that it appeared as gold cloth. The district is also known for some traditional handicrafts such as Mashru and Himroo artifacts.

Demography: As per census 2011, Osmanabad district has a population of 1,660,311. Of the total population, only 16.96% are urban and the rest are rural. The average density of population in the district is 219. The literacy rate of the district is 78.44%. Sex ratio of the district is 924 females for ever)' 1,000 males. The district coexists with different religious communities such as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and others. According to the census 2011, 16.96% have the total population of the urban region and 83.04% of rural region in Osmanabad district.

Socioeconomic. Being a frontier district at the time of independence, the district had a volatile social structure. Further, being part of a plateau with very little forest cover and very limited rainfall, the district has seen many challenges for many decades. The severe earthquake in the region, during 1992, led it to facing high levels of human and economic losses. The district has been known for persistent water shortage, both for drinking and for agriculture. The situation has been much more challenging in the rural areas.

In the above context of geography, topography, forest cover, and political and social divisions, the Osmanabad district occupies a unique position among as many as 739 districts as in 2020 in India. Indeed, the above backdrop of the district and the region provides a unique background to the variety of features and challenges in the administration of the district. Despite the natural challenges and man-made tensions, the district has gradually progressed over the years. About 77% of the geographical area of the district is under cultivation.

As in 2020, there were a total of 737 villages. These have been clustered under 622 Gram Panchayats (GPs), which is the lowest level of governance unit that is to be governed by the people directly. From the top-down administrative functioning, the district has been divided into four revenue divisions which are further divided into eight taluks. The taluk offices coordinate with people at the respective GP level. Further, the revenue function of the district is undertaken through 42 revenue circles in the district.

Like a typical rural district in India, the percentage of urban population in the district stood at 17% as compared to 45% for the whole state of Maharashtra. With a population density of 219 in the district as compared to 365 for the state, the district did not seem to offer more opportunities than the state (see Table 4.1). The sex ratio, that is, the number of females to 1,000 male, for the district was 924 as compared to 929 for the state. More importantly the sex ration in rural areas of the district was lower at 922 as compared to urban areas of the district at 934. This implies that the district is generally male dominated, and the domination increases in the remote rural areas of the district.

Table 4.1 Demographic Details of Osmanabad District

Maharashtra State

Osmanabad District

Number

%

Number

%

Literacy

Persons

81,554,290

82.2

1,137,810

78.0

Male

45,257,584

88.4

644,304

85.5

Female

36,296,706

75.9

493,506

70.5

Scheduled Castes

Persons

13,275,895

11.8

265,184

16.0

Male

6,767,756

11.6

136,354

15.8

Female

6,508,139

12.0

128,830

16.2

Scheduled Tribes

Persons

10,510,213

9.4

36,039

2.2

Male

5,315,025

9.1

18,569

2.2

Female

5,195,188

9.6

17,470

2.2

Total Workers (Main and Marginal)

Persons

49,427,878

44.0

773,916

46.7

Male

32,616,875

56.0

473,795

55.0

Female

16,811,003

31.1

300,121

37.7

(i) Main workers

Persons

43,762,890

38.5

701,894

42.0

Male

29,989,314

51.5

441,657

51.3

Female

13,773,576

25.4

260,237

32.7

(ii) Marginal workers

Persons

5,664,988

5.1

72,022

4.4

Male

2,627,561

4.5

32,138

3.7

Female

3,037,427

5.6

39,884

5.0

Nonworkers

Persons

62,946,455

56.5

883,660

53.7

Male

25,626,181

44.0

387,740

45.0

Female

37,320,274

68.9

495,920

62.3

(i) Cultivators

Persons

12,569,373

26.5

297,361

38.1

Male

7,592,313

23.4

188,543

39.8

Female

4,977,060

29.6

108,818

36.3

(ii) Agricultural laborers

Persons

13,486,140

30.4

299,525

40.5

Male

6,774,538

20.8

154,832

32.7

Female

6,711,602

39.9

144,693

48.2

(iii) Workers in household industry

Persons

1,225,426

2.7

19,831

2.7

Male

690,755

2.1

9,844

2.1

Female

534,671

3.2

9,987

3.3

(iv) Other workers

Persons

22,146,939

40.6

1,57,199

18.9

Male

17,559,269

53.8

120,576

25.5

Female

4,587,670

27.3

36,623

12.2

Source: Collated and compiled by the authors.

The literacy rate of the district was 78% as compared to 85% for the state. Within the district, the literacy rate for male was 86% as compared to 70% for female. However, the literacy level among the scheduled caste was very low at 16% and dismally low for Scheduled Tribe at 2%. There was not much difference among male and female literacy among these scheduled communities.

Agriculture seemed to be the main economic and social activity of the people in the district. About 38% of the workforce is of cultivator category and about 39% of the population is of agriculture laborer category. In other words, nearly 77% of the labor force in the district has been in agriculture. The above profile of the district represents most of the rural and tribal districts in India. For public systems management to be effective, it needs to address the concerns and context of the above district profile. The four specific cases that have been studied and presented in this chapter reflect the needs of the district.

 
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