For me, educational degrees have opened the gates of opportunities in the wider world of professional career but the zeal with which I work today is a gift of my experiences of childhood which I spent in a small village of Marathwada region of Maharashtra state. This very zeal is the greatest reason why I am working with socio-economically marginalized people living in the villages of Kabirdham district in the state of Chhattisgarh as a Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellow.
Before joining as PMRDF, I worked as a consultant for one of the leading consulting firms in India where I got involved in a range of activities leading to livelihoods promotion. These 2 years of experience laid a solid foundation to strengthen my understanding of multiple aspects involved in promotion of livelihoods of economically marginalized people living in villages. Skills such as project and program management, community mobilization, facilitating capacity building programs, building self-reliance and sustainable institutions of economically marginalized, organization management and developing perspective plans, project proposals etc were acquired and strengthened upon.
Presently working as PMRDF in one of the IAP districts, I am involved in a range of activities meant for rural development and community mobilization. List a few; reduction of malnourishment and undernourishment of children below 6 years, development of most backward cluster, convergence with various departments/schemes such as ICDS-Horticulture-MGNREGA, SSA-SGSY, mainstreaming activities for vulnerable urban communities, advocating, monitoring and managing some of the efforts leading towards quality primary education for particularly vulnerable tribal groups and other tribal groups, facilitating the process of Forest Rights Act implementation, livelihoods promotion under IWMP, capacity building programs for HMs, monitoring and evaluation of various flagship schemes and E-Panchayats.
Almost a year as PMRDF has thrown many challenges, ranging from establishing identity in the system and among people as PMRDF to acceptance by bureaucracy. However, overcoming these challenges and getting the same system work for people who need it the most brings unmatched satisfaction. This satisfaction keeps me going and going in achieving a change, however small it may be.
I am confident of reaching some more milestones in this continuous process of change in days to come. The images of childhood I spent and village life I experienced are still with me, zeal and sensitivity with which I work is still inside me, turning sad faces of poor into happy one still brings the greatest joy for me and therefore I see this hope of change brighter and brighter with each passing day here in Kabirdham (Of course it’s like a drop in the ocean!).
Pramod Kalekar is based at Kabirdham, Chhattisgarh. He completed a dual-degree in B.A. and Law from Wilson College and Govt. Law College, Mumbai respectively and then obtained a post graduate degree in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.