‘Simple, Innovative Solutions Keeping In Mind Constraints’

Chintan Raj                                             Image

Working as a Prime Minister’s Fellow, I’ve observed that a critical root-cause of various developmental challenges and conflict is in-efficient utilization of public funds on account of serious issues with the processes and current manpower.

Top-management is most of the times in-efficient, over-burdened & sometimes improficient.  Processes are over-complex and become even more challenging to implement on account of ad-hoc target approach instead of planned/realistic approach by states/districts. Grass-root teams continue to remain understaffed, shoddily-trained and without proper incentives leading to promotion of fraudulent practices. Silos work is prevalent and win-win collaborations, both within and with external organizations are still at a nascent stage. Further, endowing people with information and functionaries so that they can take up need based projects is infinitesimal, while the top-bottom movement continues to be capacious. To illustrate, vital initiatives such as empowering executive committees of gram panchayats with funds &functions, financial inclusion for NREGA beneficiaries and SHG status mapping are rolled out in-a-flash without a plan or stakeholder co-ordination and with unrealistic timelines. NREGA work types are often pushed from top and imperium command is utilized to subjugate the gram sabha/panchayats to approve what may not always be needed/be priority creating disaccord. Mandatory compliance letters instructing tasks and demanding reports are issued at an extremely high frequency. Most of these letters create superfluity, add complexity and garble what is already mentioned in the pre-arranged comprehensive NREGA Operational Guidelines.

The aforementioned governance aberrations have resulted in a permanently perturbed state of affairs at district level ensuring that most tasks become execution checkmates! Hence, staff gets little time to respond to needs of people and delivery of schemes doesn’t meet expectations. Adding to misery, ithas given rise to an un-written, mutually-beneficial arrangement between the grass-root staff and elected-representatives. By quickly utilizing the funds, staff meets targets and representatives extract short-term benefits. Well-intended representatives, interested in useful community projects, too have Lilliputian choice on account of no skilled functionaries (engineers/agriculturists).Therefore, people see public funds as a tool for ‘immediate benefits’ which creates short-term gratification but no long term, sustainable community empowerment which could reduce dependency. This also signifies the need for a paradigm shift in the practiced communication from government to its people.

I’m able to spot these issues because of my background of working in diverse environments (multi-nationals, start-ups, collaborative-initiatives) and hence the ability to analyse relatively.  On a lighter note, if this is how Samsung, Microsoft, L&T, BHEL and counterparts would be managed then computers, mobiles, metro-rails and power-plants would continue to be dreams and would have sunk all shareholder money! We can debate on capitalism-v/s-socialism and workfare-v/s-welfare later, but first let’s get the basics right!

Time is an important dimension and constructive improvements need to happen soon. It is therefore important to acknowledge, take responsibility and focus on systemic improvements that can improve the core. Hence, ‘simple, innovative solutions keeping in mind constraints’ has been my approach in all initiatives that I’ve taken as a PM-Fellow. After showcasing results, we move to scaling/recommending various improvements. To illustrate, we have focused on supporting need based creation of self-sustainable livelihoods for small/marginal farmers through horticulture works on private-lands using NREGA. We’ve partnered with agriculture specialists, given power of information to people through marketing brochures and made processes simplified and self-motivating for staff. The farmers are excited that their income is going to multiply in the limited land! The pilot project is also approved for scaling-up across district!

Our district is fish eating but most fish now comes from AP/WB because many ponds have become defunct and fishermen migrate in search of work. We worked with fishermen groups to refurbish government ponds using NREGA. The immense success of pilot has created a wave and all government ponds will be refurbished before 2014 monsoon! Many panchayats had mammoth (e.g. Rs. 57lakh) NREGA liabilities built-up since 1-2 years and Rs. 3/5/6/10lakh allotments from state would get used towards past dues, leading to slowdown in current work, delayed wage-payments, loss of faith in NREGA and constant protests. Special camps were organized where data was collated scheme-wise, records certified and entire liability cleared (some panchayats done, others in process). Training for timely MIS-updating and uniform physical record-keeping was conducted. The benefits of the latter are immense when it comes to improving delivery & transparency. Many other NREGA initiatives such as panchayat-wise monitoring, need-based convergence, partnership with civil-society, asset use-mapping, micro-planning and social audit pilots have been tried out success fully. Policy papers on process/HR improvement have been co-created and presented to state.

In community-led total sanitation, in partnership with MeghPyneAbhiyaan, a tola has been made nearly open-defecation-free using ‘Ecosan-toilet,’ an innovative concept where human waste is segregated at source and both urine and faeces are used as organic fertilizer. Since it has direct linkages with livelihood (less fertilizer input costs and better crop productivity) farmers instantly connect! ATMA funds were also used to educate farmers across the district and we will soon promote Ecosan-toilet construction under NREGA too!

Honey bee keeping in forest areas has high potential, but never took off because the boxes are distributed by KVIC/Horticulture Dept. without any technical training. Boxes were becoming threats since bees would sting children! We used ATMA funds to provide training and create farmer-interest-groups leading to happier farmers and some initial honey produce. Focus is now on dedicated training & community enterprise creation.

A district disabled rehabilitation centre and soil testing laboratory have also been setup and pilot results are encouraging.

Going ahead, planned is a ‘rural business incubator’ to support our small/marginal farmer groups to innovate and at the same time create a productive, systematic channel for utilizing massive funding available from NABARD/PMEGP/Agriculture-Dept.  Additionally, the north-Bihar floods disaster problem has been understood and community-led mitigation plans are being made. NREGA and external technical assistance will play a big role. I would like to thank my mentor and boss, the current District Magistrate Mr. Sridhar Chiruvolu for encouraging various initiatives, utilizing my competency regularly and helping me understand the system’s challenges better. I’ve seen positive change when I use the ‘simple, innovative solutions keeping in mind constraints’ approach and would like to continue working on innovatively implementing various ideas/policies/5-year-plans, recommend constructive policy changes and a move to simplicity.

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Chintan is placed in West Champaran District, North Bihar. Prior to joining the PMRD Fellowship, he co-founded a Social-Enterprise and was a Manager in Enterprise Risk & Sustainability at Larsen-&-Toubro. He has also spent time as Fellow at Foundation for Universal-Responsibility of HH Dalai Lama, as Journalist at Education-Times and as a Researcher at Greenpeace. For achievements in embedding Environmental-&-Social Risk-Management in Core Operations at L&T, he was invited as a speaker by The Project Management Institute. His Social-Enterprise GreenAdd was incubated twice by Unltd India. He is an Engineer by qualification and recipient of the ‘International Award for Young People’ for all-round achievements during school & college.

Assessment Process for selection as PMRD Fellow:

Selection involves a three tier assessment process, which includes:

I. All India Competency Assessment Test (AICAT) (Online): 28th December 2013,        from 2-30 PM to 4-00 PM

AICAT is an assessment of the applicant’s understanding, orientation, and problem solving abilities in a positive manner. Applicants will be shortlisted based on their performance in the AICAT.

II. Written Test (Issue based, narrative) of shortlisted candidates: 16th January 2014

III. Personal Interview: 16th & 17th of January 2014

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Framework for AICAT Paper:

AICAT is an objective type test. The test aims to assess the competency on the following aspects:

– Reading Comprehension

– Data Interpretation & Inference

– General Awareness

– Logical reasoning

– Knowledge about National Programmes and Schemes

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AICAT duration: 90 minutes

Number of questions: 90

Sections: 5

20 marks for each section

1. Reading Comprehension: 2 passages with 5 questions each

2. Data Interpretation & Inference: 4 Data Sets

3. General Awareness: 20 Questions

4. Logical reasoning: 20 Questions

5. Knowledge about National Programmes and Schemes: 20 Questions

Each question is for 1 mark [For Reading Comprehension each question is for 2 marks]

Negative marking:   – 0.25 [No negative marking for Reading Comprehension]

Each question to have 4 options

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For more clarity, try the mock test at http://www.digialm.com/EForms/Mock/Template/index.html?164@@138

“The rural poor are the best entrepreneurs – across diverse geographies”

SWASTI PACHAURI                                        

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!

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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

“Live and let live is good but live and help live is better”

DIPTI PARIDHI KINDO                                            Image

 

I did my BCA with distinction but after realizing my zeal to work for developmental segment, I joined in PG in Rural Development at Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi. I had undergone internship in the most arid region of the country with CGPL, A Tata Power Company in Kutch, Gujarat for “A Study on Feasibility of Potential Enterprises: An Assessment of Women SHGs in Project Area” under the guidance of Dr. (Fr) Alex Ekka SJ, Director of XISS, Ranchi .  I worked for 8 months with an NGO, KNNA in Gujarat as a Cluster Coordinator for strengthening self-governance PRI structure, Natural Resource Management, Health, Livelihood and Education. Working with a grassroots NGO in my preliminary professional journey, assisted me to implement my theoretical classroom learning into the practical and enhance my working potential with interfacing the ground veracity. Thereafter, for three months I worked in SAFAL Project, Jharkhand as a State Coordinator for promoting livelihood opportunities for rural poor women. Consequently, to work as a facilitator towards the empowerment of the deprived so that; they can shape their own destiny, I joined PMRDF Scheme.

With just 11 months of work experience in development sector, I joined as a PMRD Fellow in Ranchi (Rural), Jharkhand in June 2012. Last one year’s journey was full of turbulence, sometimes frustrating whereas sometimes persuade. I faced so many challenges but taking all of them very positively, mostly, I got involved in four schemes viz. MGNREGA, NRLM, IWMP and IAY. I contributed in the preparation of Annual Shelf of Projects (2013-14) in MGNREGS in which focal point was inclusion of more schemes which would resultant to establishment of durable assets and improve ecological balance in rural areas. My role was vital in-order to ensure the same; I had to conduct the workshops for the officials of MGNREGS of all the 18 Blocks of the District so that Cluster Facilitation Team can be formed. This CFT can assist each Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat to prepare a holistic perception plan including newly permitted works in MGNREGA, which were neglected earlier. I worked with the Gram Panchayat by regularly attending Gram Sabhas wherever needed and as a result, each block’s Panchayat has proposed the Shelf of Projects with new/additional works permitted under MGNREGA in 2012, which can be converged with other major schemes like IWMP, NBA, NRLM and NRDWP. From day one onwards, I was also engaged in preparing a proposal for “Model Panchayat” in consultation with my DC. There were no provisions of any extra funds for this concept whereas the proposal was an initiative to bring all the existing schemes of a village in a convergent framework at Jariya Panchayat of Bero Block. After completion of Report from the Primary Baseline Data and its analysis, now I am working on its implementation part. I am also involved in the implementation of NRLM trying to mobilize the SHGs for more monetary transaction. During my frequent visits in the villages, I found a scope of setting a silk reeling enterprise in Angara Block under the fund of IAP for which submission of a detailed project proposal has been done.

My, out of the ordinary focal point is on convergence of the different schemes with one of the largest flagship scheme “MGNREGA”.

Under NRLM, I am also trying to assess local skill gaps and monitor the training and placement for rural unemployed youth who can go through the capacity building and training exercise by Placement Implementing Agencies (PIA), this is because it would enable them to either secure placement in the industry or pursue sustainable self-employment opportunity through Micro Enterprises.

After one year, since July 2013 I’ve been given extra charge in RDD, Jharkhand where I’ve been instructed by Principal Secretary, Jharkhand to assist in monitoring of AwaasSoft of Jharkhand State (MIS of Indira Awaas Yojna).

I find working as a PMRDF and providing developmental support in a LWE District, as the most tremendous contribution to the society. I am pleased to work for the community, who were being neglected yet. I find it more heart touching and smell the fragrance of satisfaction when I find even a little bit of facilitation from my side in making their live better.

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Dipti Paridhi Kindo is based at Ranchi (Rural) district in Jharkhand. She is a Post Graduate in Rural Development from Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi. She worked as a teacher and also in rural development sector addressing issues of communities related to livelihoods, Panchayats, natural resource management, health and promoted SHGs and women empowerment for around two years before joining PMRD Fellowship.

“I feel that I was tested with the hardest of things in my life whenever I tried to join the fellowship, but I kept going with all that came my way”

Jechonia Islary            Image

 

During my Masters in Social Work, my urge and passion grew for the health issues and policy analysis and research. I have always been an active participant in all the public discussions and class room presentations. I had under taken up research titled, ‘Indigenous Medical Practices of Bodo Community.’ Health, education and community Development is what I feel can bring changes in our society—both in urban and rural areas. During my data collection and analysis, I learnt that health is not just a bio-medical phenomenon, but is being influenced by a host of social, cultural, political, economic, geographical and psychological factors.

After experience of working in Sambalpur district, Orissa, one of the IAP districts, I felt that I would be able to contribute effectively to communities through my skills and talent, being one in the community. So, an urge grew within me to be a part of PMRDF recruitment process. It was quite a few months long wait and I was happy to make through as a fellow. I joined 1st batch in Hyderabad for the training but unfortunately, I lost my elder brother in a road accident on the 3rd day of training. So, I moved back home and decided to leave the programme. But, since the 2nd batch was starting only 3 months later, I and my family were able to settle things and I was back to fellowship in the 2nd batch in June 2012. During my training in the batch 2, again disaster struck my home locality with kind of social unrest due to arm conflict between two different communities. My village was badly affected by the conflict and all of them were in the relief camp for days at the go. I had various thoughts in my mind about the fellowship and the things happening to me. But my class XII logic paper kept me reminded of fallacy called “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” literary meaning that it is merely correlation rather than causation. In fact I feel that I was tested with the hardest of things in my life whenever I tried joining the fellowship. But I kept going with all that came my way.

During the state and district selection, I had no option to opt for, for I was not sure of any of the IAP districts that were left over after the ones allocated to the 1st batch fellows. I then moved to Jharkhand and finally to Giridih district. I had never heard of Giridih before I reached Ranchi. I was welcomed with open arms by DC of Giridih when I reached there as a fellow. It is really great that I have a brotherly love and care of the Deputy Commissioner of the district. The work plans were made and I am submerged deep into it. I am also given with the best of facilities like housing, vehicle and many other immeasurable entities. On the same I am also demanded with the works and I am really performing that is giving me inner satisfaction and appreciation from the reporting authority and from others in the district.

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Jechonia Islary is based at Giridih in Jharkhand. He has a Masters in Social Work (Health and Development & Social Policy and Planning) from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Jechonia worked for three years with NGOs and in health sector including one year with BISWA, Sambalpur in Orissa as Deputy Manager Programmes (policy and planning) and for two years with NRHM, Assam as District Community Mobilizer, Chirang District in Assam before joining PMRDF.

“Rural Development is the main pillar of nation’s development, so I wanted to be part of this journey as a PMRD Fellow”

Priyanka Kumari                     Image

 

I always wanted to contribute to rural development as I believe that it is one of the most important factors for the growth of the Indian economy. Fortunately, I got information about PMRDF scheme through newspaper and I instantly decided to apply and join PMRDF and live my dream of contributing to rural development. Rural development, off late, has assumed utmost importance and now receives global attention especially in the developing nations. Similarly, it has great significance for a country like India where majority of the population (around 65%) live in rural areas. Rural development in India has witnessed several changes over the years in its emphasis, approaches, strategies and programmes. People’s participation is one of the foremost pre-requisites of development process both from procedural and philosophical perspectives. For the development planners and administrators, it is important to solicit the participation of different groups of rural people to make the plans participatory.

Working with the administration is a different ball game and a store of surprises. One needs to have a lot of patience for everything. I received full support from the administration and my DM. Best part of my experience with the administration during a year into fellowship is that it is a lot different from any regular employment where life is somewhat predictable. I believe that it is not a charity that I am doing instead, it is just giving it back to the society that helped me to have a decent life. In Jehanabad district, during the strike of Panchayat Rojagar Sevaks, we started NREGA works with the help of Self Help Groups in which a high number of women participated.

As PMRDF my present strategy is to mainly focus on poverty alleviation, better livelihood opportunities, provision of basic amenities and infrastructure facilities through innovative programmes of wage and self-employment to the beneficiaries.

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Priyanka Kumari is based at Jehanabad in Bihar. She has an MBA in HR and Marketing. Priyanka worked as HR in Solar Tech for four months before joining PMRDF.

“The process of development and environmental protection should happen hand in hand”

Akash Badave        Image

I have a dual degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Biology. This combination may look odd to many. But when I look back, connecting the dots, I find an avid nature lover inside me responsible for this combination. In childhood, I would sit at the riverside and observe birds for hours, watch the rains from my window and feel elated in the presence of mountains. But most of all I remember a babul tree near my house where thousands of sparrows would gather every evening and their chirp would fill the entire atmosphere. I used to wonder how such a small tree could accommodate so many birds!

But one fine day, I found that the tree was cut down. The little birds were homeless all of a sudden. Where would all the sparrows sleep tonight? I kept wondering that day. The process of development has a great impact on the environment. The anecdote of my childhood is just a small example. If it is ultimately the environment that the human race is dependent upon for its survival, how should the socio-economic development of the society take place so that the balance of the environment is not disturbed? I entered the college with this question in my mind and a wish to answer it by developing technology based solutions. During the college days I started working with a student non-profit organization on various social issues of the villages nearby. I also did a research project on Common Property Resource Management (CPRM) under the guidance of Prof Anil Gupta of IIM-A, and travelled in the tribal areas of Gujrat, Jharkhand and MP to understand local issues. These endeavors made me gradually realize that while technology based interventions are essential, working with the people is most important. The people are very much part of the environment and it is the poorest who is most dependent on the environment for his survival. Therefore the socio-economic and environmental issues of any community cannot be looked in isolation. The process of development and environmental protection should happen hand in hand.

I joined PMRDF with these thoughts in my mind and to test them with realities of the field. Posting in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh has offered me exciting possibilities to work with the tribal communities here. These communities have been living in close harmony with nature for generations.  Can any model be developed where their economic elevation is achieved through environmentally sustainable means of livelihoods? Can the communities be mobilized to manage the natural resources to strengthen and enhance their livelihoods? Can appropriate and sustainable technology be introduced in the villages, which will give people new means of livelihoods by using existing resources more innovatively and effectively?  I have been exploring these broad ideas in last one year of my stint as PMRDF.

In a way, it has been a roller-coaster ride, packed with great amount of learning and new experiences. The fellowship has given me an opportunity not only to suggest interventions but also to get involved in their planning and implementation across the boundaries of different government departments and schemes. Introduction of SRI method of Rice cultivation and Organic farming across the district to enhance the production as well as provide higher market price to the farmers; a Micro-planning campaign for Natural Resource Management and Livelihood Development through the direct participation of the people; bank linkage to the farmers for developing irrigation facilities in their farms; development of Dairy centers for enhancing milk production; making Anganbaadi Centers self sufficient in Vegetables and Fruits by developing vegetable gardens around them thereby addressing crucial gaps in the nutrition; mobilization of School Management Committees to ensure community participation and accountability in the delivery of education, are some of the initiatives taken up so far.

It is quite early to measure the impact of these efforts. The problems of these areas are of mammoth size. I would consider myself to be very fortunate if I succeed to push them even an inch behind. But more than any impact I would be able to create, I am sure that this experience is teaching me a great deal of things to transform me as an individual being.

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Akash Badave is based at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh. He is a graduate from BITS-Pilani with a dual degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Biology. Akash worked in diverse sectors like IT, Electronics, Renewable Energy, Education and Livelihoods for more than one year in full time capacity and around four years in part time capacity before joining the PMRDF.

“My engagement with CAPART to work with different social groups has sharpened my ability to understand and react to the dynamics and background of the socio-political aspects”

Shailja Tigga                              Image

I started my career with CAPART as a Young Professional. Through my course of work with TATA steel Corporate Sustainability Services (CSR), I found that Primitive Tribe Groups (PTGs) are in the most vulnerable situation, say for education, health or livelihood etc. There I got an ample space and opportunity to work and manage the education projects at grassroots level.

PTGs are forest dwellers and dependent on forest produce. They have less access to market and to cities therefore face a lot of difficulties for daily necessary amenities like health facilities, clean drinking water, sufficient food etc. Through my survey, I found that there are approximately 1,000 PTG dwellers with around 6-7 dependent children in a family. Lack of proper information has made a big development gap among PTGs and development, so I started to work on education with them as target beneficiaries groups.

After rural field immersion, I started making proposal on Residential Education for PTGs children. Finally, the budget was approved by TATA Steel but it was very difficult for me to bring them on stream line. I struggled a lot to convince parents to send their children to residential school. Eventually parents agreed to send their children to residential schools, I with my team, brought them to TATANAGAR and we provided necessary logistics and school fees as instructed by the hostel. Finally 10 PTG children were enrolled in Residential School Holy Cross, Berada, Chouka.

My special thanks to CAPART for giving me a platform to work with Tribal Cultural Society, Tata Steel CSR to bring a small change through my initiative among the Primitive Tribe Groups (PTGs). My engagement with the organization with different social groups has sharpened my ability to understand and react to the dynamics and background of the socio-political aspects.

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Shailja Tigga is based at Latehar in Jharkhand. She has a Post Graduation Diploma in Rural Development (PGDRD) from Xavier Institute of Social Service (XISS), Ranchi. Shailja worked for three years in the rural development sector before joining the PMRDF.

“Back for People”

Om Prakash Paswan                       Image

I belong to a village in Mirzapur, one of the IAP districts in Uttar Pradesh. Since my childhood, I have been supporting poor people in cultivation of crops and vegetables in my village, due to which I have a sound knowledge of agriculture. It also explains why I chose “Back for People” title for this article, which many of you would be thinking about. After completing graduation in Mechanical Engineering, I joined Automobile Sector and worked for six years as HOD in Research and Development in two and four wheeler vehicles. Joining this fellowship was a great career move for me as working in the fields at grassroot level in the villages will be almost opposite to my professional work thus far with MARUTI, HONDA-CIEL, HERO-HONDA, JCB, M & M, SUZUKI etc. I had been working for machine tools and robotic line before joining PMRDF and now I work for poor people and humanity! Now I can say that every job has its own flavour and I am really enjoying my present work with the PMRD Fellowship. There are many facts & points which I do want to mention about my fellowship which makes it an interesting part for my career.

Since my knowledge, skills and expertise are in Robotic and Automobile Sector with practical experience of Vehicle Development & technologies, I always wanted to utilize my skills in rural development sector and more so, after joining this fellowship and taking this great challenge head-on to bring these technologies at ground level. I was encouraged to see that the Government has already started to focus on bringing E-technologies such as MIS & IMF in MGNREGA, IAY, E-PDS, BAS (Biometric Attendance System), E-grievance redressal system etc. However, the question is whether handling of such devices is up to the mark or not and daily reports are being generated from such devices or not. Apart from that, during my field visit in my district Sonebhdra, I saw the actual condition of schools, MDM, ICDS, CHC, PHC, KGBV, IAY, PMGSY, MGNREGA, IAP & BRGF FUND etc. at grassroots level. I am familiar with the conditions of village at grossroots level being from a village myself, but I have experienced many compelling and new things for the first time in my life during this fellowship such as sericulture, people collecting polluted (fluoride, arsenic, mercury etc.) drinking water from open sources (ponds, rivers, canals) and some people consuming alcohol in the lack of food to satisfy their hunger. While being a part of the Social Audit in MGNREGA, I learnt how to handle a large crowd especially in virulent conditions. I also realized that people want to be beneficiary of each and every scheme of the Government, which runs more than a dozen of schemes. Also, if we carefully see then we will realize that sometimes government policies are designed in such a way that deserving people are not included in the beneficiary list due to lack of papers and formalities. So, we should make any policy flexible. Corruption is also a big issue in my District in every scheme in term of duplicacy, improper monitoring and audit etc. because of lack of GPS (Globel Positioning System).

I successfully added some suitable inputs like GPS E-PDS for improving the monitoring processes. I was also part in organizing the events like Lok–Jagrukta for social mobilization. Apart from that, I participated in Gram Panchayat level monitoring committee, NGO selection for World Bank Water Programme, strengthening gram sabhas, focused on youth, attended social audit in MGNREGA. I was heavily involved in SGSY E- Marketing and Socio Economic Caste Census and blacklisted some NGOs, which were working for namesake only. I also visited fields from time to time in order to motivate people at grassroots and help them to be aware of their rights so that they can get what they expect from government schemes.

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Om Prakash Paswan is based at Sonebhadra in Uttar Pradesh. He is a Mechanical Engineer from U. P. Technical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. He worked for six years in Automobile Sector (R&D) before joining PMRDF.

I wanted to know how dedicated is the district administration in fulfilling the hopes of the people..

POOJA B V                           Image

I joined PMRDF having very little knowledge about the nature of the work that I would be required to perform. Only knowledge I had was the CAPART guidelines, which says that PMRDFs are to work as developmental facilitators and coordinate with district collectors in various developmental activities in IAP districts. Since, I am a civil service aspirant I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to learn, understand and acknowledge how the IAP districts are different from non-IAP districts, what are the glitches and developmental lacunae which people are facing and of course I am not hesitating to say that I wanted to know how dedicated is the district administration in fulfilling the hopes of the people and support as a facilitator in bridging the development gaps. We all know the above mentioned issues from newspapers and magazines and I thought that joining this fellowship would be a good prospect to know things at the grassroots level.

After our training of one month in Hyderabad, we were asked to stay in a village for a period of ten days and I must candidly accept that those ten days were horrendous times because of lack of basic facilities in the village. During my village stay my cognizance, principles and dedication to work for people were dithering and I was demotivated. Eventually I passed all the hurdles, which I faced during village stay and I must confess that this happened because of two things: one my persuasion to work and our district collector’s strong motivation to overcome hurdles. In course of time, I stayed in an interior mandal for another 3 months and carried out my study.

I took up a study on the State run Employment Generation and Marketing Mission Programme for youth employment called as Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu, which provides training in the fields of computers, accounting, personality development, nursing, tailoring etc., for a period of three to four months and the trained candidates are placed in the nearby cities and sometimes to metros like Hyderabad and Chennai. During my study, I realized that there is high dropout percentage of youth placed within two months of placement. I carried out a study on this and found out that these youths were paid inadequately, poorly acquainted with urban culture and had homesickness. Also, administration needs to modify the training modules. I have submitted my report covering these issues with the district collector and state level authorities.

For understanding work placement related problems faced by youth, I took up a study of Rural BPO model in Bangalore and Chennai and apply same concept to the Srikakulam district (where I have been appointed) so that youth can get placement in their native district. I prepared a proposal of Rural BPO on cost arbitrage and CSR activities and approached the companies like IBM, WIPRO and Rural Shores. Initially there was no good response from the companies. Later, fortunately our district collector introduced me with H’ble Minister of Information and Communication Technology, who happened to be from Srikakulam district. After that meeting, district collector assigned me to coordinate and work as a team leader in setting up a Rural BPO. In the due course with persistent effort and fortune two companies viz,. Infosys and Rural Shores have come to set up a 120 seated Rural BPO in Amdalavalasa mandal of Srikakulam district and I am coordinating with district administration and company officials for successful implementation of Rural BPO.

At last, I would like to thank H’ble Minister of Information and Communication Technology district collector for providing me the opportunity to work on Rural BPO and also for persistently motivating me in discharging my efforts.

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Pooja B V is based at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. She has Bachelors in Engineering in Computer Science. PMRDF is her first work opportunity.