When I was applying for Psychology Honors in Delhi University, I was sure this is what I wanted to do all my life; my passion for psychology made me a topper in the college and placed me among the top five in the University of Delhi. At the time of giving my entrance exam for a master’s degree in University of Delhi, a place in DU was all that I aspired for and nature conspired to place me again in the top five students. I was on cloud nine!
As the time passed and I came across with practicalities of life, I yearned for making my understanding of the theory of psychology meaningful. This took me to Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan , where I worked in the Principal Leadership Development Program, a unique program designed for leadership building of headmasters of rural primary schools. This engagement with people and working in alien conditions required unfolding your inner self to empathize with and gain trust of the headmasters, much senior to us in age and experience. In this process I learnt a great deal about my own self; much more than the theories of psychology taught me in the years of my learning at University of Delhi.
Back in Delhi due to personal reasons, I indulged myself in what they call as “research and capacity building“ in development jargon. I wrote on several issues, lobbied for issues related to women and child development and conflict in the Northeast Region of the country. Though I liked the work I was doing but my field orientation always beckoned me and when the opportunity came, I went again to the field to work as a PMRDF in Kanker District of Chhattisgarh.
PMRDF opened new vistas of learning for me. I learnt what it means to implement the Govt. programs and why things work and why they do not. Different shades of bureaucracy, targets, corruption, empowerment, hierarchy, files and procedures – all these words turned into reality. Getting to know inside out of the system created frustration and helplessness most of the time but somewhere some smiles on the face of the needy instilled motivation again.
Working on livelihoods helped me understand the complexity of the issue and how theory is most of the time delinked from practicalities. What people want and what is planned for them rarely seems to match. Still there are hopes that sometime somewhere there will be a light…after all, this is what development is all about. With this hope of achieving something somewhere I have involved myself in projects like rehabilitation and livelihood planning for people affected by a BSP mining project in Rawghat area of kanker, Establishing a Rural BPO, Livelihood college for skill development of youth and preparing youth for competitive exams, Program Implementation for NRLM and Chhattisgarh State skill development missions etc. My presence here has given a helping hand to the Collector to implement new ideas and speed up the old ones. At the same time I have gained the experience of a lifetime.
From Psychology to education to lobbying and capacity building to working within the Government system on livelihoods …it’s been an enriching journey and each day has been full of learning in one form or the other. I have not yet decided about my forte at work and still wish to explore things in and around. I still feel that I have a lot to learn, and at the same time all these years of learning have also made me confident enough to weave my learning in my work and make it worthwhile.
Priyanka Yadav is a Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) based in Kanker, Chhattisgarh