I hail from Jharkhand, which literally means land of forest. As a native of this region, I had the first hand exposure to rural life and to the plights and problems of communities in rural areas. Working for the rural people of my state has been an enriching experience so far.
I gained relevant knowledge and understanding of community development issues while working with field based NGOs in Jharkhand. I was engaged in community based natural resource management projects and studies on climate change. My study explored the local impact of global climate change and the efforts of the local communities of Jharkhand in dealing with the change. I was also engaged in knowledge sharing by presenting my works in national and international conferences and publishing journal articles.
I joined the Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) fellowship programme in April 2012. The fellowship programme provided an opportunity to work in Jharkhand under a bigger set-up within the framework of the Government. I saw this as an opportunity to take the community development works in Jharkhand forward and magnify the outreach. The stimulation was to accept bigger roles and shoulder greater responsibilities; where I would have been able to challenge myself and utilize my potentials in effective way.
I am based at Gumla in Jharkhand. It has been a learning and challenging journey. The district presents wide array of issues from being a development deficit region to the high infestation of rebel groups. I have tried to situate myself at grass roots and work closely with local administration of different blocks of my district. The work involves visiting/staying at different blocks and look into the implementation of programmes such as MGNREGA, IAY, SGSY etc. Some strategies that I apply include periodical review meetings with block functionaries, collaboration with other stakeholders such as Banks, NGOs, PRI members etc. and follow ups leading to the speedy implementation of programmes by reducing the bottlenecks.
The focus has always been on understanding development from the perspective of people and emphasize on bottom-up approaches. Micro planning, organizing Janta Darbar, facilitation of gram Sabha, workshops with the SHGs, social audit, etc. are some important activities that I have carried out in this period and plan to continue it in the time to come. Report preparation and submission to DC has been a regular activity and I face challenges at times in pushing things as the recommendations are accepted, rejected and at times there is no action.
However, the learning and experiences of working at multiple levels such as village, block and district has helped me grow as a professional and acquire skills of working in bigger projects, with larger beneficiary groups and DC.
Rajeev Ranjan is based at Gumla in Jharkhnd. He has a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Development from Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi. Rajeev worked for two years on the issues related to environment, natural resource management and livelihoods before joining the PMRDF.