I am a lawyer. I started working for NGOs as well as legal and policy making institutions from the first year of my law course as I believed that it was important for me to have both textbook and practical knowledge of law. In my work experience I realized very early that what’s written in the textbooks is quite different from what actually happens. For instance there was a maintenance case in which the woman was provided only Rs. 500 to take care of her three children, although the husband was earning Rs. 10,000 per month. This kind of instances made me work more rigorously in the legal development sector to bring about a positive change. When the opportunity for Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) came I accepted it immediately as it gave me the chance to work for those people whose basic human rights are being snatched away from them every day and who are constantly in fear of their lives.
I had been to conflict affected states of India before joining PMRDF Scheme but I had never been to Jharkhand and had never heard of Garhwa district where I am presently posted and which is now my home. Garhwa’s district boundary touches the boundary of three states viz. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh and that is the reason that its three subdivisions namely Garhwa, Nagar Untari and Ranka have three different socio-economic and cultural conditions.
I have been mostly involved in supporting the district in better implementation of flagship schemes such as MGNREGA, NRLM, SSA, IAY, IAP and IWMP. In all these schemes my work was to study the kind of work that had already been done in the district and then do need based survey to find out the kind of work or support needed by people in those areas. The need based survey involved intensive fieldwork in the district which gave me the chance to interact with people and listen to the needs of various sections of the community. Monitoring and evaluation of various rural development schemes is another area in which I assist the district at various levels.
Apart from the above mentioned work I have also worked in the area of legal and technical support to the district. There were various pending court cases, which were taking a lot of time of the district officials. I helped them in speedy filing of papers by developing a standard format. I am also supporting the district in making Grievance Redressal Tracking System which will enable people to file and track grievances through mobile and internet as there is already a Grievance Redressal Office in the district.
A very significant achievement in the area of planning has been making of Bhandariya Action Plan (BAP). Bhandariya is one of the least developed and conflict affected blocks of the district. I supported the district in planning, research and making of the BAP. The BAP was approved by the government and the district has already received first installment of the planned amount to carry out developmental activities.
My time in the district has taught me to be more patient, stable and has made me realize that sincere and continuous efforts made towards an objective always gives positive result.
Shraddha Pandey is based at Garhwa, Jharkhand. She is a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from University of Lucknow. Prior to joining PMRDF, Shraddha worked for five years. This included her work with the advisor to Supreme Court Commissioners, as a documentary film consultant and as a consultant for policy and documentation with various organizations.