I began my career as a software engineer with one of the reputed MNCs of India. After working in the IT sector I felt like I did not belong there and wanted to shift to development sector. Initially during my IT job, I used to volunteer for some CSR activities of the company and later when I decided to engage full time in the development sector I got admission at Tata Institute of Social Sciences for Masters in Social Entrepreneurship. During my Masters I gained enough theoretical knowledge about various social issues and some ideas to resolve them. But there is not much opportunity during the academic study to work on various issues related to development, even though my course provided some space for doing things on-field. When I applied for PMRDF I thought it would be great for two reasons. One, it will help to work in some of the difficult geographies of our country, which in a way is the best place to provide good learning. Two, it will provide an opportunity to work with the government without being part of the regular cadre (as a regular employee) and this will provide a chance to understand the issues from administrative side as well.
During my training I was trained on various issues of development, ranging from rural-urban divide, gender, poverty, health, education, migration etc and various tools like Participatory Rural Appraisal, GPS Mapping, SPSS. Also there were people from various sectors like academicians, practitioners, NGO functionaries, bureaucrats who took interactive sessions and presented their perspective of development which was highly enriching.
I was placed in a village as a part of field training (called village immersion) and was asked to understand socio economic condition of the villageers and other dynamics of the village by applying various skills imparted during training. The exercise was really fruitful as it provided various insights into village economy, culture and livelihoods. After village immersion I got posted in Karimnagar district of Andhra Pradesh. In Andhra Pradesh, State Government allocated 3 interior mandals (blocks), predominantly tribal, to each PMRDF and we were asked to stay in any one of the Mandas during the period of fellowship. I am staying at Manthani mandal of Karimnagar district.
I am interested in working on livelihoods especially community managed small enterprises in which I have competence. At the same time our district administration is also planning to initiate some livelihood activities in the interior part of district and I was asked to involve in preparation of livelihood plans. We (me and my colleague) did resource profiling of Mandals through qualitative (FGDs and PRAs) and quantitative (Village Survey) means. After doing data analysis and a series of discussions with community some projects are finalized considering local resources, skills and market.
These plans include establishment of Tussar cocoon bank which strengthens livelihoods of all stakeholders who are dependent on Tussar silk. The cocoon bank was started in March 2013. The project aims at eliminating middlemen and providing fair price to Tussar farmers and ensuring year long work and better prices to weavers and regular income to Tussar Silk reelers. Another project which was taken under livelihoods program is establishment of mini apparel units. These units will serve as a platform for the women to utilize their tailoring skills for their livelihoods. The project has started very recently and the units are to manufacture school uniforms to begin with.
It has been one year in the district and my experience in working with community is very satisfying. One thing which encourages me a lot is that I am able to work on areas where I have interest and PMRDF provided ample scope to me in doing that. I am able to see small changes as our intervention has resulted in the increase of income to 12 weaving families due to improvement in market linkages and to 300 farmers due to increase in local consumption.
Vamsi Krishna Nukala stays in Manthani mandal of Karimnagar district (Andhra Pradesh). He is a B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and an M.A in Social Enterpreneurship. After his Graduation in Engineering, he worked as a software engineer with Wipro Technologies for 2 year 3 months.
 Tussar, also called tasar, is a variety of silk. Unlike common silk reared on the leaves of Mulberry, this one is reared in the wild, on the tress of Terminalia arjuna and Terminalia tomentosa. Tussar silk rearers are mostly poor tribals. They sell Tussar cocoons to middlemen who in turn sell them to master-weavers.