Friday, April 06, 2012

To fight Maoist, IIT & IIM passouts to assist local admin

A bunch of 20-somethings are raring to swap the security of bluechip firms for the grave hazards lurking beyond the invisible yet palpable thick red line that marks out Maoist-affected areas across the country. Armed with little more than developmental zeal, these professionals are readying to venture into some of the most dangerous areas in central and eastern India. This is where, for instance, a state government recently agreed to free 27 prisoners to secure the release of an abducted MLA and a foreign national.

The first batch of 156 candidates selected for the Prime Minister's Rural Development Fellows Scheme will spend the next two years assisting district collectors in implementing welfare programmes across 78 worst-affected Maoist districts. Their deployment, as per the scheme conceptualised by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh last September, will be part of the governments measures to answer critics who have long maintained that Maoism cannot be contained by force alone.

Even as the government grapples with the security threat that the insurgents pose in these districts, the fellows are not scared. "Security is not a big concern for me," says Rajendra Kondepati, who did his BTech in Chemical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) before going in for a post-graduate degree in public policy from Singapore. "It is perceived to be very dangerous, and possibly is, but there is still the district administration," says the 28-year-old, focusing on the opportunities more than the threats.

Unlike administrative services that are extremely rigid, the fellowship promises a range of possibilities. Even compared to the private sector, as far as general management experience is concerned, this will equip us with much better skills. District collectors, who handle everything from general administration and finance to security and development, feel that the fellows can help devise better ways to evaluate and monitor welfare schemes.

"Our job is too large and we have limited workforce available to us. These young boys and girls will have better perspectives and they will help us utilise modern technology to make implementation and monitoring of these schemes more efficient," said a collector who did not wish to be named, adding, "Ensuring the security of these fellows will be our responsibility."

Like Kondepati, most of the other fellows hail from premier institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). They have given up jobs with companies such as Infosys, Wipro and Patni to be a part of this one-of-a-kind programme in the country. The ministry received a whopping 8,560 applications in the introductory year for the fellowship scheme that will provide a monthly remuneration of Rs. 65,000.

"The aim was to get professional, out-of-the-box thinkers into the Naxal-affected districts so as to make development initiatives work," Ramesh told ET. "In one sentence, these people will act as sherpas for the collectors," the minister said, adding, "This is also the first large-scale entry of professionals into government activity."

The fellowship awards will be officially announced and conferred by Ramesh and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia in Hyderabad on April 7. The fellows will undergo training for two months before being posted in districts covered under the Integrated Action Plan --- a joint project of the Planning Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs --- introduced in 2009 to intensify development work in the 78 worst-affected Maoist districts such as Dantewada, Bastar, Koraput and Palamu.

Source: The Economic Times, April 6, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive