BELIEVE ME YOU ARE…

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Lalit Pankaj, PMRDF from Korea, Chhattisgarh pores his heart out in his deep creation, Believe me you are.. 

Occasionally, 
While wandering,
I come to such places,
Where poor people live.
Mangoes and blackberries,
Fall from the sky,
People pick them up and eat,
Just like that.
Limpid streams,
Bring virgin waters,
Animals and people drink,
From the same shore.
Tranquility of atmosphere,
Music of countless birds,
Omnipresent soothingness of nature,
Lit up my eyes.
Looking down upon all this,
I tell them,
You are disgustingly poor,
Believe me you are…
They ask me,
How so?
How much do you earn?
I explain.
Less than a dollar a day!
That’s why!
Earn for what?
They retort.
Don’t you want,
Formal Education for your children?
Too much is happening around the world,
Don’t you want to watch it on a flat screen TV?
We are not convinced,
What would we do with all that stuff,
We have all we want,
Happiness and peace, they say.
My anger grows,
These people, don’t even know,
What is good for them,
I must intervene.
They must become the beneficiaries of,
Sustainable rural development scheme,
Designed by,
Uber sophisticated intellectuals.
Otherwise some insecure pedantic pirate,
Would venture,
In their naïve unsuspecting society,
To plunder and pillage.
They must be protected,
From rest of the greedy world.
If not now,
It would be too late.
Take this card with your name,
Now on,
You will be bestowed with,
Funds in your direct beneficiary account.
Leave us alone, they said,
O educated shallow bum,
Don’t rub the ointment of your injuries, on us ,
In the name of our development.
“No no” I said
We are genuine development workers,
We really care for you,
We feel your pain of poverty.
We think, they said,
You’re feeling it better than us,
More pain, more gain,
More salary, which you can’t refrain.
We all know about,
Your covert plan,
Leaking pipeline of development schemes,
To feed your insecure overweight clan.
Just that we haven’t been able to publish,
But, you have, for us the theory of entrapment,
In the vicious cycle of,
Poverty-Illiteracy-and-Malnourishment
All along you are the one who is vulnerable
Enough to be in captive starvation,
In the vicious cycle of
Bad Education – Insecurity – and – Dissatisfaction.

PMRDF: My experience so far!

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(Arpit Asthana is undergoing training as a 2nd batch PMRDF. He sums up his experience at TISS, Mumbai here..)

Education and Career Background

My engineering degree helped me in getting a decent enough job in one of the IT giants. Colleagues, friends, peers, money etc. etc. was on the rise. Everything except my work. I felt that my work was not inspirational and in this way neither I can show my mettle nor can I contribute anything towards the society. It was not motivating and ultimately the mundane processes made me feel weary. I got through Rural Management Program in Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. The decision to quit my job and the shift to Rural sector was not a radical one but a gradual process with lot of introspection and self-assessment.

Reasons for choosing PMRDF

During my XIMB days (2011-2013), I was following PMRDF very closely and was glad to hear about the admission notification last year. With a Rural Management degree and a desire to build a career in development sector, PMRDF for me was the next logical step on the ladder. I was highly impressed with the nature of work that the fellows are expected to fulfil. In addition to the broad spectrum and scope of work, the fact that a Fellow has to act as an interface between the district administration and people at the grassroot level was the thing that excited me the most. For me, this proved to be an opportunity of not only interacting directly with the people but also closely observing the district administrative machinery.

PMRDF: Why is it so special?

The Government of India’s fellowship when combined with the academic expertise of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) makes the program highly attractive. Personally, the mix of office-field work and the tie up with District Collector and various line departments will help me in understanding many intricacies minutely in administering and in development of a backward district. The multi-dimensional work scope covering project monitoring, implementation and research aspect is the most unique proposition for me. As per the website, the work of a fellow ranges from capacity building of SHGs, designing innovative projects, assisting in better implementation of poverty alleviation programs like NREGA, NRLM, SSA, ICDS, IWMP, NSAP, IAP etc. and providing feedback on rural development initiatives. The liberty to undertake action research to discover more appropriate ways of program delivery as well as to conduct socio-economic analysis of the local areas at Block level broadens the horizon at a new level which I think no other opportunity can provide at the entry level point. To top it all, TISS will also be awarding an M.Sc/M.A. degree in ‘Development Practices’ after two years of fellowship.

PMRDF: My experience so far!

The last one month has flown like wind. 3rd April, 2014 was when I reached the TISS Campus, Mumbai for training. Past one month we are having rigorous and back braking classes with subjects like Indian Society, Land Reforms, Economic Theories, Development, Development Interventions, Poverty, Social Exclusion, Social Research Methods, Socio Economic Analysis, Communication Skills and Leadership Workshops. The two hour long classes starting sharp at 9 in the morning till 6 in the evening with the scorching Mumbai humidity were not easy to withstand by any stretch of imagination. But at the end of day, there were always some food for thought that all of us took back from the classes. Be it the dining hall or a nearby beer bar or TISS campus, the discussions were wide and varied covering topics from Caste discrimination, Reservations, Rights based Approach, Naxals, North East, J & K, BJP versus AAP, Indian History, capitalism versus communism et cetera, the later always being the hottest of all. Though most of the times I remained a silent observer, I loved the way people came forward and expressed their heart out. Perhaps, TISS further helped me in inculcating the habit of listening to other people. Unfortunately, in the discussions that we had, the reciprocity was seldom maintained.

Training of IInd Cohort started this week and though I didn’t have much interaction with them, but I have heard that they are a talented bunch. Rural Practicum of Ist Cohort will be starting this week and I am eagerly looking forward to it.

More to follow…………

Livelihood Initiatives in North Bastar, Kanker, Chattisgarh

I priyanka Yadav, PMRDF- kanker, chattisgarh , have been largely involved in skill development and livelihood activities in my district. Following are some of the major developments which have taken place in the last 1.5 years, in the field of livelihood and skill development

The district of Kanker has taken Many Initiative in Skilling of youth leading to better livelihood opportunities for them.

The two Initiatives namely Rural BPO and Livelihood College stand out among all others for their uniqueness and novelty factor.

Rural BPO/ Call Centre

 As the name signifies a rural BPO is Business Processing outsourcing centre which is functional in a rural area like kanker. This is similar to the BPOs/ call centers operated from the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai in all its operations.

In this model Business (Both Voice and Non Voice) are being outsourced to this centre and operations are being dealt here. A typical example of the work here is the outsourcing of the Customer care centre operations of companies like Airtel, Idea etc in Chhattisgarh to this centre. Thus people sitting in kanker are  able to reply to the client of any of these organizations from any part of the chattisgarh or the entire nation for that matter.

Zila Panchayat Kanker Has partnered with Rural Shores, a Bangalore based organization that has pioneered in the area of setting up Rural BPOs around the country.

The BPO is operational since August 2013 .

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The objectives of the Rural BPO

  •  Employment for 200 Youth: Rural BPO will provide employment to around 200 people in various capacities in its full operation. At present 40 people are working in Rural BPO
  •  Skill Enhancement of youth: Rural BPO will upgrade the Skill set of the Youth of Kanker and make them more employable
  •  Reducing Migration: It will reduce levels of migration of rural youth to cities for better opportunities.
  •  Creating Employment opportunities for Women: It will create alternative means of employment for the women  who are not able to go outside in search of employment 

The Rural BPO is an attempt to create alternative means of livelihood for the rural youth of Kanker, thereby channelizing their vast energy towards positive and constructive avenues.

Here is the news paper coverage of the initiative

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/raipur/Chhatisgarh-gets-its-first-rural-call-centre-in-Kanker-district/articleshow/21836310.cms?intenttarget=no#.UoMeQgCJ-tk.facebook

 

Utkarsh Skill development centre  – Kanker

The district of Kanker is one of the LWE affected; four of its blocks namely Bhanupratappur, Antagarh, Koylibeda and Durgukondal are highly LWE affected areas.  Growing unemployment in this area is resulting in youth getting attracted towards naxalism. There is a great need to divert youth from such anti National activity by engaging them constructively in nation building.

Keeping in line with the national mission on skill development, Kanker is also focusing on its young population.

 Utkarsh Skill Development Centre  

 Utkarsh Skill development centre  is functioning as a centre for training exclusively for MES (Modular employability skills) courses Under MukhyaMantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna  and skill development initiative scheme( SDIS)

It is a skill development centre for a wide range of skills.  To begin with, it will impart skills in the area of ICT, Fashion technology and Electrical Repair along with Personality development with a focus on soft skills development.

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Originally 100 students were selected for a module of MES courses for the duration spanning 5 months in ICT and commerce.

Along with the regular students part time MES courses are being run in the morning and evening batches.  The total number of student trained in MES courses was 550 in the year 2013- 2014.

USP of the Utkarsh Skill development centre 

Placement linked training: Utkarsh Skill development centre has partnered with Pratibha syntax Pvt. Limited – an Indore based leading organization in Garment Making. The organization will provide customized training to the youth and give them 100% placement in Pratibha Syntex Pvt. Ltd.

Also Shiza Foundation has partnered to impart placement linked training in information technology, soft skills and Bussiness and commerce, they have designed a specific five month module taking different courses from the above sectors

Focal Center for skill development under Mukhya mantra Kaushal Vikas Yojna( MMKVY): The centre is  a focal point for providing training Under MMKVY and SDIS Using NCVT approved MES courses and modules. Other Governmental Trainings are also being imparted through this centre.

Career and Guidance centre: The centre functions as a career and guidance centre for youth across the district, they are provided guidance by the staff about various career opportunities.

The centre aims at providing standardized and quality training to the youth of kanker leading to better employment opportunities.

Since its beginning in August 2013, Utkarsh Skill development centre has provided employment to 80 youth, both men and women in the field of garment, IT and Business & commerce.

 

Priyanka Yadav, PMRDF Kanker, Chattisgarh 

 

 

The Uprising of the Silent Women!

Priyanka Yadav, PMRDF- Kanker, Chattisgarh 

It was a usual slow and lazy afternoon in one of the  small block of North Bastar kanker- Narharpur .

This day of January 1, 2014, finally turned out to be the most eventful  day in my life, for the event that followed. I am narrating a small incidence which might be trivial for some but for me that was a live social revolution taking place! Something I can never forget in this lifetime

We had organized a workshop on livelihood opportunities for Self Help Groups (SHGs). We invited all the stakeholders there; the participants included different govt. departments and the banks as well.

Much to my surprise and prior experience in other blocks, around 600 women SHG members from 28 Village organizations formed under NRLM  turned up for the event. Fortunately all the bank mangers of the blocks were present, as the CEO zila panchyat was also expected in the event. There were many problems with the bankers in the block and women had complained to me regarding the same during my regular field visits earlier. SHGs complaint of improper and rude behavior by the bank staff specially the field officers, unnecessary delays and formalities in account opening, withdrawal and passbook updation etc. The NRLM loan to SHG was a task to be achieved! We tried to solve these issues earlier on different platforms but the manifestation of the same was invisible on the field.

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After all the discussion on livelihood opportunities by departments was over, I invited bankers to the forum. I chanced upon the occasion to be a good platform to confront the errant bank officials in public.  I made it a direct face to face interaction between the women and the bankers.

We asked bankers one by one to Introduce themselves and present their work and schemes etc. In the end I started asking the women about what issues are they facing with the bankers? Initially they were hesitant to say anything against “the Shahibs”, but when coaxed further they started with their long list of grievances. The complaints escalated into angry accusations and chaos! The bankers obviously had no answers to the genuine questions posed by the women; it was more of their attitudinal issues rather than systemic issues. The bankers (not all, some of the errant  ones) had no place to escape!!

Fortunately when the time was ripe, Mr. Bhim singh, CEO Zila panchyat( IAS) arrived in the hall and was surprised to see the situation. We explained to him why women were angry and why bankers were hiding! He was apprised of these issues earlier as well and he was himself angry on the bankers for repeatedly engaging in such behavior.

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He listened to the women carefully and when he was convinced that the bankers were at odds with the public, he supported the women and said that he himself will sit on a protest outside each bank if the banks did not amend their ways! This got a thunderous applause from the women and they were assured that their complaints will be taken care of.

At this point of time, the regional office staff and the lead bank manger interjected and assured strict action against the errant bank staff at the block.

Now things are moving rather smoothly in the block and bankers are aware of the power of the Tribal, illiterate rural women!

This is the power of silent women, I smiled to myself!

 

[Priyanka Yadav is a fellow at District of Kanker in Chattisgarh. She is focussing on livelihood and skill building related programs and initiatives.]

Divorced to Sustainability [Puns Intended]

Aman Bhardwaj, PMRDF

Note: Those who have promised themselves not to listen to others’ private affairs may avoid reading this or can read it after chanting Hanuman Chalisha 108 times.
 
 
One of the few terms I heard and started using too often after joining this scheme is “Sustainability”​. No, I shall tell you the truth. Actually, I heard this in 4th year of my Graduation when after three years of teaching “how greedily to take out as much minerals as possible from ground underneath?” the same professor taught us to leave some of mineral down there, not out of generosity or the self-discipline stuff but enough to let the ground stay where it is or it may subside and fall into the hole. 
 
But, my definition of sustainability received a severe blow after I joined Coal India; blow, the kind you received while spending first evening in your district’s guest house. There, sustainability was like Harry Potter, just a fictional character. People talked about it and knew he existed, in stories of school of Magic. To become sure of his existence, they looked around and asked their brethren if they had seen someone selling pots or earthen vessels, but all of them denied. (To those who don’t know Harry Potter: Harry is anything but a Potter.) Most of them believed in their hearts that Harry Potter didn’t exist, but due to an important need to look intelligent, publicly they acknowledged that Harry Potter existed. Some of them, in fact said they even had had dinner with Harry Potter in Paradise, the Biryani Moghul in Hyderabad. Some even went lengths and produced vessels in front of public to show Harry Potter had sold it to them. But in their hearts they knew, they didn’t know him. 
 
Let me get straight to the point now. “Sustainability” was like childhood sweetheart, who would come along, whenever I am thinking something important, knock on mind’s door and would shout with a contorted face “Hey! You better not forget me.”. I felt trapped and even cried without tears. Trapped in ‘Sustainability trap’. She didn’t stop coming to me until I got her married to someone else (Yes. You’re right. I, in my mind, have married her off to someone in our current batch, 2nd Batch.) Now, I don’t think of her. 
 
Sometimes, I missed her. Sometimes. But I stopped missing her after I got a new girlfriend. Now, everyone must be wondering who the hell she be to replace sustainability. 
 
Must be some kind of greatsustainmanagexistecologyfriendlytimeless-bility. 
 
God’s promise!! She is not that. 
 
One of my mentors introduced me to her (better her to me). She is called “relevance”. Now, she doesn’t act as a pain in the ass; rather she helps me by enabling to ask questions like:
 
“Would the intervention, you’re planning to take, aims to make some positive contribution in lives of people?”
“Would the people involved like/love/benefit it? If yes, how many are those and how resourceful are they. if no, what powers and resources they have to stop that.”
“Still haven’t started, eh? Go on field.”
“Are there groups (Youth, NGO, Elderly etc.) who realize the intervention is relevant for people out there? Engage them and make them feel its relevance. Bring inasmuch as you can.”
 
I am happily dating her on some of the small drinks (read ‘ideas’). She neither asks me to think of the marriage propositions nor she hides the fact too long that she has deserted me. She is ruthlessly frank but simple and precise. Friends, she is one to be desired for. 
 
Now, I think I’d rather have better fallen for greatsustainmanagexistecologyfriendlytimeless-bility than falling for sustainability. 
For two benefits: 1. I’d have added this large word in my memory and would have sounded intelligent in front of you and others and 2. I’d not have been heartbroken so many times. 
But anyways, who knows? You know, fate, destiny…. fatalistic stuff. (We all secretly believe in this God-staged-drama story thing. Don’t we.)
 
(Friends…Regarding the first evening.. I know some of you had awesome evenings when your pious feet touched the motherly soil of your districts and your district collectors opened their arms like Shahrukh Khan of DDLJ and hugged you tightly like you were their long forgotten lost love. Please don’t reply with that story. Because in my part, I was like miserable Mr. Biswas of V S Naipaul’s “A HOUSE FOR MR BISWAS”. I had to wait for five hours to have a look of my holy grace. The condition also didn’t turn better than Mr. Biswas, later on.)
 
Dare  you not ask me who has been married to sustainability? )

‘Simple, Innovative Solutions Keeping In Mind Constraints’

Chintan Raj                                             Image

Working as a Prime Minister’s Fellow, I’ve observed that a critical root-cause of various developmental challenges and conflict is in-efficient utilization of public funds on account of serious issues with the processes and current manpower.

Top-management is most of the times in-efficient, over-burdened & sometimes improficient.  Processes are over-complex and become even more challenging to implement on account of ad-hoc target approach instead of planned/realistic approach by states/districts. Grass-root teams continue to remain understaffed, shoddily-trained and without proper incentives leading to promotion of fraudulent practices. Silos work is prevalent and win-win collaborations, both within and with external organizations are still at a nascent stage. Further, endowing people with information and functionaries so that they can take up need based projects is infinitesimal, while the top-bottom movement continues to be capacious. To illustrate, vital initiatives such as empowering executive committees of gram panchayats with funds &functions, financial inclusion for NREGA beneficiaries and SHG status mapping are rolled out in-a-flash without a plan or stakeholder co-ordination and with unrealistic timelines. NREGA work types are often pushed from top and imperium command is utilized to subjugate the gram sabha/panchayats to approve what may not always be needed/be priority creating disaccord. Mandatory compliance letters instructing tasks and demanding reports are issued at an extremely high frequency. Most of these letters create superfluity, add complexity and garble what is already mentioned in the pre-arranged comprehensive NREGA Operational Guidelines.

The aforementioned governance aberrations have resulted in a permanently perturbed state of affairs at district level ensuring that most tasks become execution checkmates! Hence, staff gets little time to respond to needs of people and delivery of schemes doesn’t meet expectations. Adding to misery, ithas given rise to an un-written, mutually-beneficial arrangement between the grass-root staff and elected-representatives. By quickly utilizing the funds, staff meets targets and representatives extract short-term benefits. Well-intended representatives, interested in useful community projects, too have Lilliputian choice on account of no skilled functionaries (engineers/agriculturists).Therefore, people see public funds as a tool for ‘immediate benefits’ which creates short-term gratification but no long term, sustainable community empowerment which could reduce dependency. This also signifies the need for a paradigm shift in the practiced communication from government to its people.

I’m able to spot these issues because of my background of working in diverse environments (multi-nationals, start-ups, collaborative-initiatives) and hence the ability to analyse relatively.  On a lighter note, if this is how Samsung, Microsoft, L&T, BHEL and counterparts would be managed then computers, mobiles, metro-rails and power-plants would continue to be dreams and would have sunk all shareholder money! We can debate on capitalism-v/s-socialism and workfare-v/s-welfare later, but first let’s get the basics right!

Time is an important dimension and constructive improvements need to happen soon. It is therefore important to acknowledge, take responsibility and focus on systemic improvements that can improve the core. Hence, ‘simple, innovative solutions keeping in mind constraints’ has been my approach in all initiatives that I’ve taken as a PM-Fellow. After showcasing results, we move to scaling/recommending various improvements. To illustrate, we have focused on supporting need based creation of self-sustainable livelihoods for small/marginal farmers through horticulture works on private-lands using NREGA. We’ve partnered with agriculture specialists, given power of information to people through marketing brochures and made processes simplified and self-motivating for staff. The farmers are excited that their income is going to multiply in the limited land! The pilot project is also approved for scaling-up across district!

Our district is fish eating but most fish now comes from AP/WB because many ponds have become defunct and fishermen migrate in search of work. We worked with fishermen groups to refurbish government ponds using NREGA. The immense success of pilot has created a wave and all government ponds will be refurbished before 2014 monsoon! Many panchayats had mammoth (e.g. Rs. 57lakh) NREGA liabilities built-up since 1-2 years and Rs. 3/5/6/10lakh allotments from state would get used towards past dues, leading to slowdown in current work, delayed wage-payments, loss of faith in NREGA and constant protests. Special camps were organized where data was collated scheme-wise, records certified and entire liability cleared (some panchayats done, others in process). Training for timely MIS-updating and uniform physical record-keeping was conducted. The benefits of the latter are immense when it comes to improving delivery & transparency. Many other NREGA initiatives such as panchayat-wise monitoring, need-based convergence, partnership with civil-society, asset use-mapping, micro-planning and social audit pilots have been tried out success fully. Policy papers on process/HR improvement have been co-created and presented to state.

In community-led total sanitation, in partnership with MeghPyneAbhiyaan, a tola has been made nearly open-defecation-free using ‘Ecosan-toilet,’ an innovative concept where human waste is segregated at source and both urine and faeces are used as organic fertilizer. Since it has direct linkages with livelihood (less fertilizer input costs and better crop productivity) farmers instantly connect! ATMA funds were also used to educate farmers across the district and we will soon promote Ecosan-toilet construction under NREGA too!

Honey bee keeping in forest areas has high potential, but never took off because the boxes are distributed by KVIC/Horticulture Dept. without any technical training. Boxes were becoming threats since bees would sting children! We used ATMA funds to provide training and create farmer-interest-groups leading to happier farmers and some initial honey produce. Focus is now on dedicated training & community enterprise creation.

A district disabled rehabilitation centre and soil testing laboratory have also been setup and pilot results are encouraging.

Going ahead, planned is a ‘rural business incubator’ to support our small/marginal farmer groups to innovate and at the same time create a productive, systematic channel for utilizing massive funding available from NABARD/PMEGP/Agriculture-Dept.  Additionally, the north-Bihar floods disaster problem has been understood and community-led mitigation plans are being made. NREGA and external technical assistance will play a big role. I would like to thank my mentor and boss, the current District Magistrate Mr. Sridhar Chiruvolu for encouraging various initiatives, utilizing my competency regularly and helping me understand the system’s challenges better. I’ve seen positive change when I use the ‘simple, innovative solutions keeping in mind constraints’ approach and would like to continue working on innovatively implementing various ideas/policies/5-year-plans, recommend constructive policy changes and a move to simplicity.

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Chintan is placed in West Champaran District, North Bihar. Prior to joining the PMRD Fellowship, he co-founded a Social-Enterprise and was a Manager in Enterprise Risk & Sustainability at Larsen-&-Toubro. He has also spent time as Fellow at Foundation for Universal-Responsibility of HH Dalai Lama, as Journalist at Education-Times and as a Researcher at Greenpeace. For achievements in embedding Environmental-&-Social Risk-Management in Core Operations at L&T, he was invited as a speaker by The Project Management Institute. His Social-Enterprise GreenAdd was incubated twice by Unltd India. He is an Engineer by qualification and recipient of the ‘International Award for Young People’ for all-round achievements during school & college.

Assessment Process for selection as PMRD Fellow:

Selection involves a three tier assessment process, which includes:

I. All India Competency Assessment Test (AICAT) (Online): 28th December 2013,        from 2-30 PM to 4-00 PM

AICAT is an assessment of the applicant’s understanding, orientation, and problem solving abilities in a positive manner. Applicants will be shortlisted based on their performance in the AICAT.

II. Written Test (Issue based, narrative) of shortlisted candidates: 16th January 2014

III. Personal Interview: 16th & 17th of January 2014

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Framework for AICAT Paper:

AICAT is an objective type test. The test aims to assess the competency on the following aspects:

- Reading Comprehension

- Data Interpretation & Inference

- General Awareness

- Logical reasoning

- Knowledge about National Programmes and Schemes

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AICAT duration: 90 minutes

Number of questions: 90

Sections: 5

20 marks for each section

1. Reading Comprehension: 2 passages with 5 questions each

2. Data Interpretation & Inference: 4 Data Sets

3. General Awareness: 20 Questions

4. Logical reasoning: 20 Questions

5. Knowledge about National Programmes and Schemes: 20 Questions

Each question is for 1 mark [For Reading Comprehension each question is for 2 marks]

Negative marking:   – 0.25 [No negative marking for Reading Comprehension]

Each question to have 4 options

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For more clarity, try the mock test at http://www.digialm.com/EForms/Mock/Template/index.html?164@@138

“The rural poor are the best entrepreneurs – across diverse demography’s”

SWASTI PACHAURI                                        Image

PMRD Fellowship has been the most satisfying professional and personal journeys thus far because not only has this Fellowship offered me the platform to apply management & social research methodologies to community contexts but has also encouraged me unleash my creative potential in the context of rural development.

My corporate/management consulting métier spanning four years centered around strategy design, needs/impacts assessment principles and different global discourses on development with the multilaterals/INGOs. An amalgamation of all these convinced me that in addition to diligent process improvements required for effective program delivery, a focused community demand driven analytic approach clubbed with the right managerial methods is imperative for successful translation of developmental goals into pragmatic vision of growth with equity. PMRDF appealed to me primarily because I wanted to implement these very managerial and social research learning’s with communities in focus and the ever evolving facilitating strategies which I was assimilating since my association with the sector dating back to 2005. Additionally, I wanted to travel the unexplored territories and contribute to ethnographic anecdotes pertaining to rural peripheries of India.

At the onset, therefore as a PMRDF, in addition to my program and community interfacing with MDM, IAP, SGSY stakeholders & beneficiaries at the district, block and Panchayat levels, my efforts in the rural marketing space has kept me immersed into understanding the relevance of developing market linkages in the peripheral zones of my district Seoni in Madhya Pradesh.

My work involved conceptualization & design of a product catalogue titled ‘Indigenous Talents’- for urban consumers and the CSR arms of corporations thereby promoting the concept of Eco or Sustainable gifting. The central idea was to reveal the ‘hidden invisible hand’ behind the aesthetics and crafts that the rural households of hinterlands engaged in, with adept quality and finesse in geographies laden with an accessibility deficit and thereby equipping these communities with the right market capital.

It is in this pursuit that as a PMRDF, I am undertaking several initiatives focused on product promotions strategies for handicrafts, handlooms, organics, forest herbs procured and developed by artisans, SHG women and farmers. Additionally, I am working on diverse program portfolios such as understanding the Mahua economy, Corporate Social Responsibility & Community Investment strategies for PPPs and livelihood diversification plans for villagers.

My work for SHGs at the moment, supported through DPIP/SGSY/SRLM includes the development of an e commerce driven portal for the Government of Madhya Pradesh which would provide a one stop shop for tourists, online shoppers and customers thereby taking Madhya Pradesh arts, crafts; talents, aesthetics to the global map of traditional resources and artistic acumen.

Individually speaking, as a PMRDF I have had several moments of personal realizations and reflections. At the inception of this esteemed Fellowship Program, I felt that it marked a watershed in one of the most significant areas of human capital enrichment of India. The field and ground experience offered by this fellowship serves to hone the demographic dividend which India boasts of today while also addressing developmental constraints in micro & macro-economic contexts. The multi stakeholder approaches and perceptions one unravels while also understanding implementation related challenges through an administrative and a grassroots lens are the defining attributes of this program.

Most importantly, however, I feel that PMRDF has provided me with greater depths of humility, patience and other daily life skills thereby adding hues of depth to my personality. I feel a stronger person with each day now that I see how the basic services such as water, electricity and roads for instance are luxuries for majority of populace inhabiting remote areas. It deepens therefore, my motivation and determination to continue working and contributing to development indices of our country and strengthening social capital subsequently. I would therefore recommend PMRDF as a life changing experience a satisfying sojourn to every young professional looking forward to making a difference!

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Swasti Pachauri is based at Seoni in Madhya Pradesh. She is a gold medalist in Economics at graduate level from Hindu College (University of Delhi) and a post graduate in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Swasti worked for five years in diverse sectors like Grant Management, Organizational Development, Agrarian Distress, Crop Economics, Water and Sanitation, Livelihoods, CSR strategy, program design and community investments before joining the PMRD Fellowship.

“Live and let live is good but live and help live is better”

DIPTI PARIDHI KINDO                                            Image

 

I did my BCA with distinction but after realizing my zeal to work for developmental segment, I joined in PG in Rural Development at Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi. I had undergone internship in the most arid region of the country with CGPL, A Tata Power Company in Kutch, Gujarat for “A Study on Feasibility of Potential Enterprises: An Assessment of Women SHGs in Project Area” under the guidance of Dr. (Fr) Alex Ekka SJ, Director of XISS, Ranchi .  I worked for 8 months with an NGO, KNNA in Gujarat as a Cluster Coordinator for strengthening self-governance PRI structure, Natural Resource Management, Health, Livelihood and Education. Working with a grassroots NGO in my preliminary professional journey, assisted me to implement my theoretical classroom learning into the practical and enhance my working potential with interfacing the ground veracity. Thereafter, for three months I worked in SAFAL Project, Jharkhand as a State Coordinator for promoting livelihood opportunities for rural poor women. Consequently, to work as a facilitator towards the empowerment of the deprived so that; they can shape their own destiny, I joined PMRDF Scheme.

With just 11 months of work experience in development sector, I joined as a PMRD Fellow in Ranchi (Rural), Jharkhand in June 2012. Last one year’s journey was full of turbulence, sometimes frustrating whereas sometimes persuade. I faced so many challenges but taking all of them very positively, mostly, I got involved in four schemes viz. MGNREGA, NRLM, IWMP and IAY. I contributed in the preparation of Annual Shelf of Projects (2013-14) in MGNREGS in which focal point was inclusion of more schemes which would resultant to establishment of durable assets and improve ecological balance in rural areas. My role was vital in-order to ensure the same; I had to conduct the workshops for the officials of MGNREGS of all the 18 Blocks of the District so that Cluster Facilitation Team can be formed. This CFT can assist each Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat to prepare a holistic perception plan including newly permitted works in MGNREGA, which were neglected earlier. I worked with the Gram Panchayat by regularly attending Gram Sabhas wherever needed and as a result, each block’s Panchayat has proposed the Shelf of Projects with new/additional works permitted under MGNREGA in 2012, which can be converged with other major schemes like IWMP, NBA, NRLM and NRDWP. From day one onwards, I was also engaged in preparing a proposal for “Model Panchayat” in consultation with my DC. There were no provisions of any extra funds for this concept whereas the proposal was an initiative to bring all the existing schemes of a village in a convergent framework at Jariya Panchayat of Bero Block. After completion of Report from the Primary Baseline Data and its analysis, now I am working on its implementation part. I am also involved in the implementation of NRLM trying to mobilize the SHGs for more monetary transaction. During my frequent visits in the villages, I found a scope of setting a silk reeling enterprise in Angara Block under the fund of IAP for which submission of a detailed project proposal has been done.

My, out of the ordinary focal point is on convergence of the different schemes with one of the largest flagship scheme “MGNREGA”.

Under NRLM, I am also trying to assess local skill gaps and monitor the training and placement for rural unemployed youth who can go through the capacity building and training exercise by Placement Implementing Agencies (PIA), this is because it would enable them to either secure placement in the industry or pursue sustainable self-employment opportunity through Micro Enterprises.

After one year, since July 2013 I’ve been given extra charge in RDD, Jharkhand where I’ve been instructed by Principal Secretary, Jharkhand to assist in monitoring of AwaasSoft of Jharkhand State (MIS of Indira Awaas Yojna).

I find working as a PMRDF and providing developmental support in a LWE District, as the most tremendous contribution to the society. I am pleased to work for the community, who were being neglected yet. I find it more heart touching and smell the fragrance of satisfaction when I find even a little bit of facilitation from my side in making their live better.

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Dipti Paridhi Kindo is based at Ranchi (Rural) district in Jharkhand. She is a Post Graduate in Rural Development from Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi. She worked as a teacher and also in rural development sector addressing issues of communities related to livelihoods, Panchayats, natural resource management, health and promoted SHGs and women empowerment for around two years before joining PMRD Fellowship.

“I feel that I was tested with the hardest of things in my life whenever I tried to join the fellowship, but I kept going with all that came my way”

Jechonia Islary            Image

 

During my Masters in Social Work, my urge and passion grew for the health issues and policy analysis and research. I have always been an active participant in all the public discussions and class room presentations. I had under taken up research titled, ‘Indigenous Medical Practices of Bodo Community.’ Health, education and community Development is what I feel can bring changes in our society—both in urban and rural areas. During my data collection and analysis, I learnt that health is not just a bio-medical phenomenon, but is being influenced by a host of social, cultural, political, economic, geographical and psychological factors.

After experience of working in Sambalpur district, Orissa, one of the IAP districts, I felt that I would be able to contribute effectively to communities through my skills and talent, being one in the community. So, an urge grew within me to be a part of PMRDF recruitment process. It was quite a few months long wait and I was happy to make through as a fellow. I joined 1st batch in Hyderabad for the training but unfortunately, I lost my elder brother in a road accident on the 3rd day of training. So, I moved back home and decided to leave the programme. But, since the 2nd batch was starting only 3 months later, I and my family were able to settle things and I was back to fellowship in the 2nd batch in June 2012. During my training in the batch 2, again disaster struck my home locality with kind of social unrest due to arm conflict between two different communities. My village was badly affected by the conflict and all of them were in the relief camp for days at the go. I had various thoughts in my mind about the fellowship and the things happening to me. But my class XII logic paper kept me reminded of fallacy called “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” literary meaning that it is merely correlation rather than causation. In fact I feel that I was tested with the hardest of things in my life whenever I tried joining the fellowship. But I kept going with all that came my way.

During the state and district selection, I had no option to opt for, for I was not sure of any of the IAP districts that were left over after the ones allocated to the 1st batch fellows. I then moved to Jharkhand and finally to Giridih district. I had never heard of Giridih before I reached Ranchi. I was welcomed with open arms by DC of Giridih when I reached there as a fellow. It is really great that I have a brotherly love and care of the Deputy Commissioner of the district. The work plans were made and I am submerged deep into it. I am also given with the best of facilities like housing, vehicle and many other immeasurable entities. On the same I am also demanded with the works and I am really performing that is giving me inner satisfaction and appreciation from the reporting authority and from others in the district.

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Jechonia Islary is based at Giridih in Jharkhand. He has a Masters in Social Work (Health and Development & Social Policy and Planning) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Jechonia worked for three years with NGOs and in health sector including one year with BISWA, Sambalpur in Orissa as Deputy Manager Programmes (policy and planning) and for two years with NRHM, Assam as District Community Mobilizer, Chirang District in Assam before joining PMRDF.