The PGP1 (first-year) students of IIM Indore had a once-in-lifetime opportunity to experience, live and learn about the finer aspects of life in the rural areas of Madhya Pradesh as part of their Rural Immersion Programme. This unique initiative has been instituted with the aim to sensitize the budding managers and entrepreneurs of this premier institute towards the various schemes undertaken by the government in villages and to study and analyze their execution and effectiveness. Spread over a week, across 44 districts, the programme proved to be an eyeopener by throwing light on various dimensions of district level administration while also dispelling several stereotypes associated with villages.
The main agenda of the programme was to help students garner information on governance and development in villages- both from the perspective of the administrative side as well as that of the inhabitants. On interacting with the Collectors and the Nodal officers of each district, the participants obtained first-hand information on schemes like the Mukhya Mantri Grameen Awas Mission, the Indira Gandhi Awas Yojana, the Nandan Phalodyan (under NREGA), the mid day meal scheme and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. They also gleaned insights on the challenges faced by the administration in executing these schemes.
Equipped with a basic knowledge of the schemes, the students were then given a detailed tour of villages, showcasing the practical implementation of most of the schemes. The mid day meal scheme emerged as the most effectively executed one across all schools. In addition to providing a nutritious lunch to the school kids, it also serves as an important tool in uplifting the living standards of rural women, by giving them an employment opportunity. The Indira vaas yojana is beneficial to people below the poverty line, by offering them cost effective housing solutions. Students also got to attend the Jan Sunwayi conducted every tuesday in all districts, wherein the Collector personally hears out the issues faced by commoners and proposes immediate solutions to address them. The most persistent problems observed pertained to land disputes and women’s rights.
Districts like Shahdol and Khandwa left the students pleasantly surprised owing to their rapidly developing infrastructure and technological advancements. While Shahdol plays host to well connected roads across tribal settlements and panchayat offices with broadband and mobile connectivity, Khandwa boasts of being the first district in the country to achieve full e-governance in the form of video conferencing and an e-problem solution center. Villages in Ujjain are all set to follow suit by incorporating e-banking and online data storage. Schools in Datia and Betul employ computer facilities and the internet to teach students even at the primary level.
While the steps being taken by the Government do have a positive impact, the students observed several bottlenecks in the system, like hygiene, lack of funds and reluctance among conservative villagers to adopt modern techniques to name a few. Based on their observations, the students will present a detailed report consisting of their suggestions to the collectors of their respective districts, which will then be undertaken for the betterment of the rural landscape.
In all, the trip proved to be an enlightening and enriching experience, giving the students a chance to apply classroom concepts to the real world, while also raising their social awareness and sensitivity.
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