(Arpit Asthana is undergoing training as a 2nd batch PMRDF. He sums up his experience at TISS, Mumbai here..)
Education and Career Background
My engineering degree helped me in getting a decent enough job in one of the IT giants. Colleagues, friends, peers, money etc. etc. was on the rise. Everything except my work. I felt that my work was not inspirational and in this way neither I can show my mettle nor can I contribute anything towards the society. It was not motivating and ultimately the mundane processes made me feel weary. I got through Rural Management Program in Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar. The decision to quit my job and the shift to Rural sector was not a radical one but a gradual process with lot of introspection and self-assessment.
Reasons for choosing PMRDF
During my XIMB days (2011-2013), I was following PMRDF very closely and was glad to hear about the admission notification last year. With a Rural Management degree and a desire to build a career in development sector, PMRDF for me was the next logical step on the ladder. I was highly impressed with the nature of work that the fellows are expected to fulfil. In addition to the broad spectrum and scope of work, the fact that a Fellow has to act as an interface between the district administration and people at the grassroot level was the thing that excited me the most. For me, this proved to be an opportunity of not only interacting directly with the people but also closely observing the district administrative machinery.
PMRDF: Why is it so special?
The Government of India’s fellowship when combined with the academic expertise of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) makes the program highly attractive. Personally, the mix of office-field work and the tie up with District Collector and various line departments will help me in understanding many intricacies minutely in administering and in development of a backward district. The multi-dimensional work scope covering project monitoring, implementation and research aspect is the most unique proposition for me. As per the website, the work of a fellow ranges from capacity building of SHGs, designing innovative projects, assisting in better implementation of poverty alleviation programs like NREGA, NRLM, SSA, ICDS, IWMP, NSAP, IAP etc. and providing feedback on rural development initiatives. The liberty to undertake action research to discover more appropriate ways of program delivery as well as to conduct socio-economic analysis of the local areas at Block level broadens the horizon at a new level which I think no other opportunity can provide at the entry level point. To top it all, TISS will also be awarding an M.Sc/M.A. degree in ‘Development Practices’ after two years of fellowship.
PMRDF: My experience so far!
The last one month has flown like wind. 3rd April, 2014 was when I reached the TISS Campus, Mumbai for training. Past one month we are having rigorous and back braking classes with subjects like Indian Society, Land Reforms, Economic Theories, Development, Development Interventions, Poverty, Social Exclusion, Social Research Methods, Socio Economic Analysis, Communication Skills and Leadership Workshops. The two hour long classes starting sharp at 9 in the morning till 6 in the evening with the scorching Mumbai humidity were not easy to withstand by any stretch of imagination. But at the end of day, there were always some food for thought that all of us took back from the classes. Be it the dining hall or a nearby beer bar or TISS campus, the discussions were wide and varied covering topics from Caste discrimination, Reservations, Rights based Approach, Naxals, North East, J & K, BJP versus AAP, Indian History, capitalism versus communism et cetera, the later always being the hottest of all. Though most of the times I remained a silent observer, I loved the way people came forward and expressed their heart out. Perhaps, TISS further helped me in inculcating the habit of listening to other people. Unfortunately, in the discussions that we had, the reciprocity was seldom maintained.
Training of IInd Cohort started this week and though I didn’t have much interaction with them, but I have heard that they are a talented bunch. Rural Practicum of Ist Cohort will be starting this week and I am eagerly looking forward to it.
More to follow…………