I chose PMRDF as it promised to give me a chance to see the grass root functioning of our government and also to contribute towards it. The last one year as a PMRDF has been a life changing experience for me. The most important virtue that it taught me is patience. The work in the government system follows it own predefined procedures and no matter what may happen, it will follow its slow and steady path. This is a test of your endurance and if we are adamant on making something happen, we need to be that much tough and rigid.
I am a person who was born and brought up in a metropolitan city. My native village because of its proximity to a metropolitan city was not a village in real sense. My first job was also in a MNC. I started having the exposure of the rural life when I went through village immersion during my post graduation. Most of my field work is in the southern part of our country, which is fairly developed. Then I had exposure to the villages in Bihar. It was quite shocking to me. In some part of my district, there are villages situated on the top of the hills. We need to trek for more than an hour to reach to these villages. There is no electricity, pucca houses or drinking water facility in most of these villages. If someone is in dire need of medical help, he/she needs to be put on a cot and brought down from the hills. After that they need to travel to the nearby medical facility there. They are still living in pre-independence era.
My District Magistrate asked me to prepare a development plan to provide basic amenities to the residents of the people residing on hilltop. This provided me with an opportunity to closely interact with the villagers who are living in these difficult conditions. After listening to them I realized that for them living a normal life in itself is one of the biggest challenges. Adding to their woes is the threat by the anti-government elements. They force these simple tribal’s to provide them with food and shelter. They do not have enough food to meet their requirements, from where they can fulfill other’s demands. If they do not accomplice, they were beaten. How to provide secure livelihood to these people was one big dilemma, I faced. We had submitted that plan and are hopeful that it will ease the tribal’s life a little.
One another lesson that I learned during my last one year stint is that government needs to be careful while outsourcing any work. The reason is that government outsources work to one agency and that agency in turn outsources to another and hence a chain of outsourcing agents is created. The agency that will be implementing it in a district might be at fifth or sixth level in the chain of outsourcing. So no one wants to take the responsibility of the work done. Another important opportunity that this fellowship gave me was to interact with the grass root politicians. I regularly attended the Zilla Parishad meetings and tried to understand the various decisions taking place there.
I would like to sum up this write up by saying that this one year had been indeed life changing for me. It not only gave me a chance to know my country better, it also made me understand the difficulties faced by the government. It is very easy to sit outside and criticize the government. But it take guts to join it and work for the country.
Mansi Kaushik is based at Rohtas in Bihar. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Management and B. Tech. in Computer Science. She has worked as a software engineer for two and half years before joining PMRDF.