My father was in Army and that provided me with ample opportunities to travel to many places in our country. Due to it, I received education in various cities, particularly in the metros. Joining rural sector as a Programme Officer happened by chance and not by choice, as I was working with Reliance Retail, Ranchi earlier.
As a Programme Officer, I was supposed to implement MGNREGA in its right spirit. Paramount factor here was to organise Gram Sabha in the interior villages of the block where I was posted. Gram Sabha is a platform for discussion on village level issues, generating ideas for potential solution and generate resources for these ideas through government sponsored schemes and make annual action plans. However, it was misused to the extent of taking up schemes only instead of having any discussion on problems /ideas and solutions pertaining to that village. Here, I would like to mention about an incident, which taught me many things in life and in career too. There was a lady by the name of Baso Devi at Hendevilli village and Panchayat in Ormanjhi Block. She was a poor lady with six family members to look after for. I came to know about her during one of my visits to her village for the site verification of the schemes included in the Action Plan. It is only after listening to her, I realised that how hard life is in rural areas and how difficult it would have been for an urban resident like me to understand it, had I been in any other sector. She showed me a pit dug in front of her house filled with muddy water. Water was collected and kept in a utensil for some time so that dirt gets settled down and the so-called clear water could be used for drinking. And then she said, “Didi teen bar arjee diya hai magar kup nahi mila” and she started touching my feet in front of everybody. I cannot explain the state of my mind and what I was feeling that day. But I became very sure of one thing that I will work with rural people to bring about a positive change in their lives. From then onwards, I started motivating Gram Rojgar Sewaks to do at least one good work in the interest of people that they can feel proud of even after leaving this job.
And yes, Baso Devi has a well of her own now.
PMRDF is helping me in increasing my horizon. Developing action plans for LWE affected area is one such instance.
Neelanjali Kumar is based at Bokaro in Jharkhand. She is an Electrical Engineer and also has an MBA in Oil. She worked for around five years in private sector and rural development sectors before joining PMRDF.