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Statutory Warning

This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here doesn't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and aren't mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mid Day Meal (MDM) Program

Theda Skocpol, Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard, notes that spending on education and family health care is especially likely to generate social and economic returns. Midday Meal (MDM) program is a school meal programme of the government of India designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children nationwide. India's MDM program feeds 120 million children and employs 2 million women. It's an initiative that changes lives and provides human-capital investment in millions of children. 

The poorest of the poor are defined as those who can eat only when they get work and who lack shelter, proper clothing, social respect, and means to send their children to school. They have no land, live on daily wages, and need to send school-age children to work in times of crisis. They send children to government schools as this is the only way to ensure one time meal to their wards and the best chance for children to break the cycle of poverty. MDM scheme has many potential benefits: attracting children from disadvantaged sections (especially girls, Dalits and Adivasis) to school, improving regularity, nutritional benefits, socialisation benefits and income support to women .

An impact study has shown that the food stamps alternative or the direct income support is not feasible, for it may lead to adverse consumption choices by the targeted households. This would happen, particularly in countries like India, where educational and awareness levels of the targeted households are low.

Learn more in this animation designed by Rhitu Chatterjee and Mathilde Dratwa.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


What is Livelihood ? Nobody understands this word outside the cocoon of the development sector. The problem with the word livelihoods is that it has overtones of subsistence. It hints that poor people should only have enough just to live – not to prosper. As Kate Magro says : “Why is it that Westerners have careers, jobs, employment opportunities and everyone else has a livelihood?”

Livelihood is a convergence of multiple disciplines of profession leading to the cash flow in the household. Mostly the poor are engaged in a “diversified portfolio of subsistence activities” (DPSA) for earning their livelihoods. Hence, Understanding smallholders' financial needs will be the key step to understand livelihood scenario. A new survey of 1,800 banks conducted by the Initiative for Smallholder Finance reveals that the total amount of debt financing supplied by local banks to smallholder farmers in the developing world is approximately $9 billion.

The first step towards designing livelihood plan for the beneficiary will be to seek information on all of the income sources, various consumption and investments, interplay among cash flows, barter arrangements, credit sources and the financial tools in use throughout the year. Migration is a major livelihood strategy for the rural poor that must be included in the project design. That will give us ideas to better understand their needs, preferences, aspirations and behaviors. This information set must be shared with Donors, Government, Financial Institution and NGOs. The future programs designed to strengthen and develop rural livelihoods must grasp the whole range of vulnerabilities and risks faced by  an entrepreneur or farmer/ artisan.

To understand what NGOs are doing, it is important to understand what they are not doing. There have been various attempts to improve income of farmers & artisans in order to making the value chains more inclusive. While addressing the critical gaps in the respective value chains, the donors put more emphasis on the capacity building than market linkages.  The utter disdain for market forces by such initiatives and short planning without critically looking sustainability factor has led to massive failure till now. Sustainability parameter evaluates the likelihood of continuation of interventions initiated due the project by the community, scaling of pilot activities, leadership development in the community, institutional and financial arrangement in post project scenario. Hence, a livelihood intervention requires a critical first step in the process : Development of a livelihood project, as proof of concept and live workable model on the ground.

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has huge potential for growth in the semi urban and rural India. Throughout they also account for a disproportionately large share of new jobs in OECD countries. The rural entrepreneurs operating and managing the solar lighting enterprises at village level constitute the backbone of TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives Campaign. There are successful cases  make us arrive at a conclusion that with a very little financial help and skill training, the villagers are able to be enterprising. The rural entrepreneur has been enrolled into skill development programs promoted by the government for livelihood enhancement. Now, there must be urgent focus on provision of soft loans and vulnerability reduction funds with  financial tools designed as per the cash flow of the occupation.

Any livelihood programs must build up the physical, financial and social assets of the rural poor using local resources. Empowering communities to take control of economic development is slow, patient work and even end as failure —and people funding or supporting development work need to take into account when designing livelihood programmes.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tribal Affairs: In the name of 'development'

How tribes are often destroyed in the name of 'development'. A new film, ‘There You Go!’, has been launched by Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, which takes a satirical look at how tribes are often destroyed in the name of ‘development’.

Indigenous peoples make up around 370 million of the world’s population – some 5 per cent – they constitute around one-third of the world’s 900 million extremely poor rural people. According to a UN report: In Australia, an indigenous child can expect to die 20 years earlier than his non-native compatriot. The life expectancy gap is also 20 years in Nepal, while in Guatemala it is 13 years and in New Zealand it is 11.

Traditional tribal habitats, particularly in mainland India, are rich in mineral and other resources and this has attracted large-scale power, mining, and infrastructure projects. Like any other indigenous communities all over the world, they face issues of brutal violence by police, denial of land rights, dispossession of land and marginalization. Rehabilitation and resettlement efforts have been pathetic, The apathy and slow progress of various departments in taking up the community claims is often resented by tribal communities.Even if they are increasingly recognized for their unique relationship with their environment, they face racism and discrimination that sees them as inferior and uncivilized. They are in process of assimilation by the forces of mainstream with their benefits usurped by non-tribal and government (Revenue, Police, Tribal Development and Forest Departments). There are also instances of the Tribal Sub Plan funds being diverted for projects of little direct benefit to tribal (Detail report). Even where the allocation is sufficient, the money is neither disbursed on time nor programmes implemented optimally due to administrative inefficiencies and corruption.

We conceptualizes development as something done to individuals and communities, rather than with or by them. This paternalism of government/ NGO / Religious leaders is ethically flawed; the fact that it often fails to achieve development outcomes only adds to the case against it. Development is a slow process. As once Russian scientist once said: ‘‘Ice forms instantly, but the process of forming the ice is slow and invisible." There must be feeling of being partners in progress rather than development being thrust from above. We have to ask tough questions - Is goal of development to help developing countries catch up to and copy developed countries ? What is development for a tribal boy ? Is development economic only ? Unless we answer such questions, there isn't much hope in the fast changing world for the tribal.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Career Advice

1. Upton Sinclair -: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. ”

2. Interest on debts grow without rain. :- Yiddish Proverb

3. Ability is nothing without opportunity.  :– Unknown

4. Forget the risk and take the fall, if it’s what you want, then it’s worth the fall. :– Unknown

5. Negative choices are our worst choices. :- Unknown


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