Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Young Professional" @ Odisha Livelihood Mission

"No man is a fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

I personally identify and like to attach with the cause of the underdogs in general. There is a dilemma involved with this choice because by descent, upbringing, education and needs; I am a person belonging to middle class society. I am fond of middle−class comforts (like 3rd AC train compartments),a bit of liberal values and even risk free career aspirations. And now, I have undertaken a job in the OLM (Odisha Livelihood Mission) as a "young professional" (a word designated by World Bank for their fresh joiner) so that my work can directly have a positive impact on the people. I had made a new path in the career by abandoning engineering to work in the rural areas for a brief time. The line that boosted my career jump was- If gamblers start worrying about the odds, they would never gamble.

Our generation has an old mindset of scarcity (money) and risk aversion (career switch). Age is never an issue if you have an enthusiastic spirit. 27 is such an age where I stand on the end of bachelor life chasing wild dreams. I have chosen to change course radically and to start completely all over again from scratch. I am happy that my new job will not be to make people buy things they don't want and don't need.

There was a bit of randomness in allotting work initially but induction training happened at Bhubaneswar office. New joiners will be sent to rural areas for exposure to the organization work style through the trainee-ship segment. I am going to Balasore district for immersion visit of 21 days accompanies with two other new fellows like me. Field experience is not only about preservation as about fortification of the knowledge gained at college.

People travel to the far and remote part of alienated regions. They are just only "guided tourists", who return from turbulent societies only to talk about wonderful scenery and wildlife, instead of the people who live their daily lives in the pain and laughter in those foreign lands. Identity of the people leaving in such a desolated region cannot be reduced to a mere geographical space. It is much more than that: it comprises of the emotional−psychological and historical landscapes. I am not any morally superior or far better than them but only going one level more from being a "development tourist" only this time.

Going off the topic, i am too happy to support and share vision of Jairam Ramesh who publicly proclaimed - Unlearn the garbage taught in professional schools.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life of A Rural Manager

What is unofficial tagline of Brand Rural Management Programme at XIMB : “We Try Harder”

A quick question is fired by an aspirant, “Why does anybody ever want XIMB-RM as first choice in admission ?”

Yes, we all know that “XIMB-RM is only No. 2.”

Yet the reply is simple: “We try harder in nurturing our budding rural manager because we have to make a point. It's always the second ranker who works harder and learns a lot more in the process.”

The origination of the answer is not to create a cute, gimmick, but instead it was – and is -- a business philosophy that every XIMB-RM students holds true. Each and every student of rural management knows that he must work harder and learn extensively than their counterparts. XIMB - RM focus on frank and truthful statements about our ranks and education philosophy. This institution is a Sangam (confluence) where we seek to find balance between mainstream business and development of people on margins.

As I write this, I'm enjoying cool breeze of Vagator beach, Goa with a chilled beer. Actually, that’s not the true case at all. I'm sitting in a small room with bare minimum facilities at Gajapati district during winter internship. I assumed before joining XIMB that I can handle the weather of Odisha. Rarely, it rains mildly with a romantic weather. Its always either a dull humid weather or heavy rains. Nothing weakens Superman like Green kryptonite, the humidity acts same way here draining all energy! For once, we can wish cool weather every day (yes dear XIMBians, We all love Bhubaneshwar weather :X)! To add to that rigour were other matters like bad food (very very important). We love cuisine like Night-mess ka roasted chicken to X-cafe ka garlic chicken soup.

Arbeit macht frei is a German phrase, literally "labour makes (you) free". The slogan is known for having been placed over the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, but that should be put on the entrance of this place. Yes, life is not so cool here. Time is a scarce commodity in this place. Yet, one can see endless usage of time in various activities. People still have the spirits to involve in various Committees, quizzes, games and X-Walks. But this is a thing about XIMB: you rarely get time for yourself. Even the whole 24 hours seems to be exhausting, tiring and even suicidal as it can sometimes get, I don't think any of us would want it any other way.

When Rural India wakes Up at 5:00 AM only then our rural managers stop their interactive chatting sessions and start dreaming of liberal days of graduation. 15 minutes before beginning of the class, get you Ass Up Fast is the call from the beloved lazy neighbor. Even then, 9 out of 10 Rural managers are firmly grounded on their bed. Such is the start of the day and the forecasting of whole saga of two years can be made on this start.

There are not only Intelligentsia, Devil's Advocate, Activist, Salesman and Social workers but also Mamas, Chachas, Night-Owls & Free-riders present in each batch. There are people here who provide a lot of joy whenever they leave the room. While one or two are such masterpiece while everybody was drinking from the fountain of knowledge they only gargled. Yes, there are superstars who gives solid evidence of halo effect. Some of ours species can even argue with a signpost but there is one with whom it's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm. I fall in the category of rural managers who set low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.

Before a layman goes on a trip, one may want to read more about the history, the people, the landscapes, and the present political and cultural situation of the destined place. That is the pedagogy of academics for rural manager. Donor Mentality, CSR activities, Development tourism, Caste based business, deep poverty, top down approach of government, rehabilitation policy etc ... we were mentored for two years to question authority and yet develop leadership traits.

Our alumni travel across India and are ease with corporate office as well as a tribal community in a remote region. That sets us apart from our colleagues in India. We have our internal conflicts like how we will integrate development (not sure what it meant then) with surging profits of the company. We know both about CK Prahlad and P Sainath. P Sainath who? A question that is asked too frequently from the rural managers.

And we learn in two years : For India, reality bites. But Lage Raho India, dream on! Business Managers are good Hegelian. They have a good theory, forget about the reality. Hence, the author has chosen to become rural manager. Yes, I will be saying golden jargons in the end : We all have a deep love for 'sustainable development' of all 'stakeholders'.

Notice: This was a draft written long ago treasured in archives of the blog for unknown reason. It's been like 8 months since I last wrote in one flow. I am throwing a glimpse of life of a rural manager tailored at XIMB.

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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 !
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