Sunday, November 10, 2013

6 reasons why you should join Prime Minister's Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) Scheme

PMRDF has been in news for quite a time and many people have mailed me and phoned me to know more about the opportunity. From this batch, the fellows would get a degree in Masters in Development Practice from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.  Apart from the stipend and degree there are other aspects of the fellowship prospective fellows want to know. This is a small effort to sum up the answers in few bullet points.

  • An opportunity to get connected to a vast network of people who think like you. 

    If you don't feel good about the current state of country and
    have a desire to do something about it, you are looking at the right opportunity. The very first thing you can get confirmed by getting into this fellowship is that there are thousands of young people like you who are sensitive, desirous and able to devote their two years to make the face of rural landscape better. Meeting a huge number of young people who want India to change for good helps you get reinforced in your ideas and gives you an opportunity to be linked to people from diverse backgrounds (Agriculture, Engineering, Medicine, Law, Social Sciences, Economics etc.). The vast network may help you while helping others in the fellowship to realize yourself and your life goals. I consider the peer learning the best part of fellowship. After you get into the fellowship, the peer learning would be the best platform to get new ideas and support for your ideas.  

    For example: I assisted my district administration to implement SMS based monitoring system in Public Distribution System. Though my Collector had some previous idea about it, but most of the support on idea came from Jehanabad fellow. I discussed the idea with him and even visited him to see how that system works in his district. We are about to be done with the implementation. 
    There are numerous such examples where fellows have poured in ideas and they have been realized in other districts or other states.
  • Freedom to choose the area you want to work in

    If you ask a fellow about his/her role in district, you will get different answers. The reason: fellows are handling different roles, handling different tasks and working with several agencies. The freedom will allow you to choose the sector (Education, livelihood, health etc.) and agency you want to work with, provided your district magistrate agrees with it (he agrees in most of the cases.) Some fellows might be monitoring Flagship schemes in their district, some are busy converging departments at district level, some are working with NGOs to help them do their work effectively while some are working directly with community and government. Yet the inevitable role of reflecting and highlighting people's need to the district officials is being played by almost 90% of the fellows.
  • An opportunity to understand India's problems

    After spending two to three months in the field, you will get your answers why India is not doing what you think it should be doing? Why so many poverty-alleviation programs have not been able to eliminate poverty till now? How government sets priority for its projects/schemes and what kind of management practices are used in decision making in the government? What are the factors that are pulling back the process of much talked decentralization and participation in decision making? All these questions would automatically get answered within your three months in the field.

  •  An adventurous journey (#Metro and Urban cities Youth) 

    During this fellowship, you’ll spend your two years in most backward districts of India and some of them really very difficult and dangerous. If you feel you’re capable enough to get through the fellowship test this time (It was easier a bit last time), then you’ll probably would never get a chance to spend two years in Naxalite-affected part of Underdeveloped India in any other case. The long series of adventure will include living in a nondescript district headquarters, meeting various kinds of people and your constant struggle with heat, shortage of electricity, potable water. You will discover your own idea of India that has been unexplored and is likely to remain unexplored if you don’t spend considerable time here. You'll encounter an altogetherdifferent world of problems of unique kind. In your young age, you'll listen to hundreds of different stories of hope, struggle, survival and loss of life. It is entirely subjective to say what all this may imprint on your brain, but most of the fellows have said: it made them a better person.
  • Opportunity to work with District Administration (Collector and other district officials)   (#Rural and Sub-Urban Folks)

    We have heard of the powers of District Collector/ District Magistrate from our caring parents and blaring neighbor uncles all the time. Probably, they would have boasted of their meetings with District Collector and Collector's inspections in district offices. But they didn't tell you everything about District Collector. They didn't tell you how many servants they have, 
    what kind of powers they do have, how much committees they head and how much head-crushing pressure they handle. You get to spend good time with different IAS, this will open insights into the governance of the country. The insights will evolve at utmost pace and you’ll understand how the government thinks and acts.
  • A sense of satisfaction making differences in people's life

    There are very limited working opportunities in India that offer you a chance to work in 'rural India' for 'rural India' while being in government. Though most of ideas you’ll put in government would die after some time and you’ll have sleepless nights and depressing days, still you’ll love making small efforts that might have good and meaningful impacts on ground. 
    The joys of bringing smiles to some faces could not compare any amount of pleasure that you might derive from solving excel sheets for soap or biscuit companies. (puns intended :) Well selling biscuits and soaps are also important for the economy to run from where the fellowship has been funded.).

    To the prospective fellows: Thank you for reading this. I know you would be having a bundle of questions, I hope the FAQ section in PMRDF website may be of some help.

    Present fellows: Hello fellow 'Fellow'. :-) If you feel, I have missed something important to say or the post needs some changes, please let me know.