By Aditya Tyagi
The first cohort of first batch Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows will complete their fellowship in a few days, on 24th December 2015. They have been on the rolls for nearly three years and nine months. I thought it is a good time to study what those fellows have been doing who already graduated in the past.
Before there is any confusion, let me explain. The first batch of fellows had tenure of two years, after completion of their ten-week long orientation. There was however option for them to continue for another year. Many of the fellows opted to do the third year of fellowship while some decided to opt out. Again, just before the third year was over, Government decided to extend their fellowship by another six months. Many of the fellows decided to continue while some decided not to accept the extension and left.
To give a numerical estimate, a total of 151 Fellows joined in first batch in 2012 after completion of their orientation in two cohorts. 17 of them left the fellowship before completing two years. Therefore, these 17 are not considered as graduates of the fellowship programme. 13 fellows decided to opt out in 2014 after completing their two-year tenure while 121 fellows decided to continue the fellowship for the third year. On completion of third year, 40 fellows decided to opt out. The rest 81 are continuing through their further six-month extension. Among them nearly 50 (of the first cohort of first batch) will graduate on 24th December. The rest will graduate on 24th March 2016.
This study is about the 53 fellows – thirteen who graduated in 2014 after running a two-year tenure and 40 who graduated in early 2015 after completing their three-year tenure – to find out what they have been doing after completion of their fellowship.
A questionnaire was mailed to all the 53 fellows. I have received responses from 40 of them. All of them have remained engaged after completion of fellowship. 32 of those who responded are working with state and central governments, development organizations and initiatives across the country in a variety of roles. 6 of them have joined academics in India and abroad to pursue higher studies. The rest two are working in the corporate sector.
Break-up of the 32 fellows are as under:
• 3 fellows have initiated their own development initiatives
• 7 Fellows have joined CSOs/NGOs and are involved in skilling, health, sanitation and child development
• 7 fellows are working with Government of India, providing policy and implementation support to rural development programs like NREGA, Rurban Mission, Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) etc
• 10 fellows are working with governments of various states – either with specific departments like health, education, tourism, rural development or in the Chief Minister’s office
• 3 Fellows are working with multilateral organizations (like World Bank, UNDP etc)
• 1 fellow is with CSR of a corporate
There was no promise that Government would find the fellows a placement on completion of fellowship. No organized placement efforts have yet been in place. Fellows accessed their new engagements solely through their own efforts. It can however be assumed that learnings from the fellowship, the space that they could create for themselves through their work and the goodwill of Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship saw them through.