Courses Education Plus

Empower rural India

Students of the International Agriculture and Rural Development Course of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University visiting a research farm.  

About 70 per cent of India's population stays in rural India. This part of India has myriad problems such as dependence on agriculture, poor wages, distress migration, malnutrition, poor implementation of government schemes and lack of access to quality healthcare and education facilities. Courses in rural development aim at understanding and address these issues in a broader context by equipping students with sound theoretical knowledge and field practices.

Being on the field is a critical component of the course for understanding the ground realities. Professor Debapriya, associate professor at National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, says students get to stay in villages at regular intervals while pursuing the course, where they get to ascertain whether drinking water facilities are available and check the condition of toilets. They also visit anganwadis, primary schools and post office banks and other facilities available in rural areas. After finishing the course, students go on to work with the programme implementing agencies like rural livelihood missions and evaluating agencies engaged in rural development programmes.

Some of the mainstream courses have rural development as an elective. For example, IIT Kharagpur offers it as a micro specialisation component of the engineering course. This specialisation is as offered as a result of feedback from students who felt the necessity to do their bit for people living on the margins of society. One hundred and fifty students from different branches of engineering are taken to villages where they get to understand, for instance, low cost technology required to build infrastructure, says professor V.K. Tewari, head of rural development centre at IIT Kharagpur.

The social science component of the postgraduate course in rural management at Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) seeks to make students understand the aspects of theory and practice relating to development, rural development, gender, rural society and rural livelihood which provides a perspective on how development works, how rural households eke out a living, their sources of income, what ails the rural society and what can be done to address their problems in a holistic way, says H. S. Shylendra, professor at IRMA.

Along with field work, theory forms a significant part of the course. “The theoretical components of the development courses expose students to development discourse — how it is structured, the dynamics and challenges. It also delves into specifics such as understanding gender and livelihood in the rural context,” says professor Shylendra.

At NIRDPR, the PG course comes within the ambit of the Rural Development Ministry. A sound knowledge of how rural development schemes are managed is important. “There is limited understanding of the grassroots issues when it comes to running and implementing various flagship schemes of the Ministry. The aim of the course at NIRDPR is to create rural development managers who will know how to implement these programmes,” says professor Debapriya.

“The scope for professional engagement in the development sector is vast. It ranges from poverty reduction programmes to development of natural resources, livelihood and enterprise promotion. The aim of the programme is to make students fully aware of the nuances of the execution process that involves knowing how to plan, develop and implement a development programme. Students should be able to develop and sharpen their analytical skills and develop appropriate strategies to deal with complex problems in the Indian context," says professor Srinivas Surisetti, TISS Hyderabad. Students graduating from this course go on to work in cooperative sector, micro finance institutions, CSR organisations, environment and forest agencies and also in fields of education, livelihood, nutrition and data analysis.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 6:02:02 PM |

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