• Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme Training on Human Development | K Seeta Prabhu

    01 May 2012

     Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme Training on Human Development | K Seeta Prabhu
    Photo: Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme

    I was recently invited to address and interact with the first batch of 109 recipients of the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF). Given UNDP’s work on Human Development, we were invited to provide training on the human development approach.

    The Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) was announced on the 13th of September, 2011 by the Union Minister of Rural Development Mr. Jairam Ramesh. The objective of the fellowships is to engage the talents of young professionals in facilitating change in the most backward districts in India.

    The fellows will be placed in 78 backward districts, covering 9 states identified as Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts that have a high concentration of tribal and marginalized populations where the fellows will function as development facilitators and assist the Collector by actively pursuing a district programming approach. It is envisioned that the fellows will strengthen the district resource base for programming, explore alternative ways of delivering services to reach the most deprived communities and facilitate district-wide social mobilization processes particularly among the youth.

    The first batch of fellowships were awarded to 156 young professionals, who were selected following a rigorous selection process. The fellows come from different educational backgrounds like engineering, medicine and the social sciences but are unified by the passion they display for making a difference in the lives of people. Each one of them is motivated, charged and willing to put in their best to achieve strong development outcomes in their designated districts.

    The fellowship provides the selected candidates with an eight week intensive training course including a 4 week internship in a district. In the 4 week long classroom training, many important topics were covered including ideas about development approaches, political processes, relevant legal contexts, social constructs of gender, inequality, poverty, caste and tribal affairs, budget planning, gender budgeting, accountability, monitoring and evaluation techniques etc. The training, coordinated by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), is designed and delivered by professionals from leading academic institutes, state and central governments, the Planning Commission, civil society organizations, multilateral agencies and peoples' groups.

    In my training, I included introduction to the concepts and ideas underlying the human development approach, tools for measuring human development including a range of human development indices and community monitoring mechanisms like social audits and rapid assessment surveys (PAHELI). I also helped the students tour around the strong tradition of human development reporting in India at the sub national level including at the district level. As part of the training an interactive exercise on human development planning at the district level was conducted using a market place concept to enable peer review and sharing of ideas and to give the fellows an insight into the actual policy making processes at the district levels. The programme was very well received by the fellows and the training organizers. Much enthusiasm and interest was seen among the fellows regarding UNDP knowledge products especially the district human development reports.

    K Seeta Prabhu is Senior Advisor, UNDP India