PMRD Fellowship has been the most satisfying professional and personal journeys, thus far because not only has this Fellowship offered me the platform to apply management & social research to community contexts, but has also encouraged me unleash my creative potential in the context of rural development.
My corporate/management consulting experience revolved around strategy, impact assessment projects, and different global discourses on development. An amalgamation of all these convinced me that in addition to process improvements required for effective program delivery, a focused community demand driven approach was imperative for successful translation of developmental goals. PMRDF appealed to me primarily because I wanted to implement these very managerial and social research applications with communities in focus. Additionally, I wanted to travel the unexplored territories of India, and consequently contribute in my own capacity.
At the onset, therefore as a PMRDF, in addition to my work with various stakeholders & beneficiaries at the grassroots, I have been working in the rural marketing space.
Till date, my work has included conceptualization of a product catalogue titled ‘Indigenous Talents’- for urban consumers. The central idea was to reveal the ‘invisible hand’ behind the aesthetics and crafts that the rural households of hinterlands make.
Towards this I have undertaken several initiatives on product promotions strategies for handicrafts, forest herbs procured and developed by SHG women and artisans. Additionally, I am working on diverse projects such as understanding the Mahua economy, convergence with CSR, and livelihood diversification plans for villagers.
My work for SHGs at the moment, supported through DPIP/SGSY/SRLM includes the development of an e commerce driven portal for the Government of Madhya Pradesh which would provide a one stop shop for tourists, online shoppers and customers thereby taking Madhya Pradesh arts and crafts to the global map of art and craft.
Individually speaking, as a PMRDF I have had several moments of personal realizations and reflections. At the inception of this esteemed Fellowship Program, I felt that it marked a watershed in one of the most significant areas of human capital enrichment. The field and ground experience offered by this fellowship serve to hone the demographic dividend which India boasts of today, while also addressing developmental constraints in micro & macro-economic contexts. The multi stakeholder approaches and perceptions one unravels while also understanding implementation related challenges through an administrative and a grassroots lens are the defining attributes of this program.
Most importantly, however, I feel that PMRDF has provided me with greater depths of humility, patience and other daily life skills thereby adding hues of depth to my personality. I would recommend PMRDF as a life changing experience to every young professional looking forward to making a difference!
Swasti Pachauri is based at Seoni in Madhya Pradesh. She is a gold medalist in Economics at graduate level from Hindu College (University of Delhi) and a post graduate in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Swasti worked for five years in social sector consulting before joining the PMRD Fellowship