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Hitting pay dirt in rural India

education Updated: Nov 03, 2010 09:20 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
Hindustan Times
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Nivedita Pandey grew up in Dhanbad, Jharkhand, pursued her engineering from Nagpur, worked in the IT sector for four years before she decided to take a call on rural management studies. “An MBA degree from any management institution could have added to my skills and professional qualification but the course at Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) could be a niche one that would give me exposure to the development sector,” says Pandey, who is pursuing her postgraduate programme in rural management (PRM), the institute’s flagship programme. She is currently pursuing her internship in Chennai.

So, what made her choose the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) in Gujarat? Why did she decide to choose rural development over any other management course? “While I was working with HSBC Global Technologies in Pune, I was exposed to the CSIR activities they organised for the NGO Akanksha, which is involved in imparting education to underprivileged children. Later, as part of the same organisation’s CSIR activities during the Bihar floods, I got involved with another NGO called Goonj that mobilises clothes and other basic amenities to millions in the far-flung areas. That got me interested in the development sector.”

IRMA provides professional education to train managers for rural management of the country. IRMA is an autonomous institution founded in 1979, at the initiative of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and with the support of the Government of India, Government of Gujarat and Swiss Development Co-operation. The institute is spread across 60 acres of land. IRMA works closely with cooperatives, NGOs, national and international agencies.

“IRMA started with meeting the requirements of managers of the dairy sector and since IIMs were not interested in working with the rural sector, this programme was introduced,” reveals Dr Rakesh Saxena, professor and director, IRMA.

Soon after the induction programme, the students are immediately sent to various villages in Gujarat for training. This is a usual start to the course and helps them get sensitised to rural realities. There are 30-40 people in a group on an average.

The courses
All the courses offered are approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The flagship courses offered include certificate programme in dairy management (CPDM). This programme consists of three classroom terms spread over six months at IRMA followed by on-the-job training for six months in the sponsoring organisation. All selected CPDM participants need sponsorship from the following organisations to pursue this course. These include NDDB, marketing federations such as Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), AMUL or Milk Producers’ Organisations. These organisations may pay the entire fees of R1,50,000 on behalf of CPDM participants. Graduate and postgraduate CPDM candidates may be paid a gross monthly stipend of R15,000 and R18,000, respectively, during the programme. The total intake of the programme is 30-40 participants.

The fellow programme in rural management (FPRM) is for students and professionals seeking careers in research, teaching and specialised knowledge-based positions in rural management institutions. It has a minimum residency requirement of three years.

Postgraduate programme in rural management (PRM) is for those who wish to undertake managerial responsibilities in the rural cooperative sector and development organisations. It is a two-year fully residential programme leading to a postgraduate diploma in rural management (PGDRM).

“We also offer IRMA scholarships every year that go as high as R20,000, per month. The fee structure is around R4 lakh for the programmes,” points out Saxena.

“Till date we have not been taking foreign nationals. With education being globalised, we may take in stude- nts from Sri Lanka and Bang- ladesh. We are also contemplating a students’ exchange programme,” he says.

The institute also engages in active research work. “We did collaborative research and conducted training programmes for organisations in Ethiopia and training sessions in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. This is part of our international cooperation alliance,” he says.

Besides PRM and CPDM, the institute also holds short-term training programmes for people working with NGOs and development organisations.

Placement
PRM graduates are absorbed in cooperatives, NGOs, government development agencies, national and international donors engaged in promoting rural development.

Recruitment takes place in February during the second year of PRM. The jobs offered to graduates are in the areas of planning and information systems, production management, marketing, finance, accounts, human resource development, rural development and natural resource management.

The average salary offered to PRM graduates in the last three years is R6 lakh per annum. The maximum package offered was R9.45 lakh.

Scholarships
IRMA also offers several fellowships to deserving students, especially those who get a monthly gross salary that is less than the decided minimum gross salary. The amount of the fellowship is equal to the difference between the actual amount of the student’s salary and the decided minimum gross salary. The recipient may get a maximum of R3 lakh during the course of three years.

Other scholarships include Sir Ratan Tata Trust scholarships offered to second-year students every year.

Famous alumni: The late Sanjoy Ghose, Indian rural development activist; S Sivakumar, chief executive, ITC’s agri-business division and architect of the e-Choupal; V Vivekanandan, chief executive, South Indian Federation of Fishermen Societies (SIFFS).

Extracurricular Societies: The IRMA club organises events during festivals such as dandiya, Diwali and Christmas. An alumni meet called ‘Milap’ is held once a year. An inter-block competition called ‘Jatra’ is held among different hostels. There are 10-12 hostel blocks on the campus. A inter-business schools festival ‘Udaan’ is an annual event.

Infrastructure: It is a fully residential campus, with beautiful lush green surroundings. As Pandey points out, “students do not need to share rooms, everybody gets an independent room on the premises. The institute also has a well-stocked library. One also gets to see migratory birds on campus.”

Factfile
IRMA was established in 1979 at Anand, Gujarat, with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Government of India, the Government of Gujarat, Indian Dairy Corporation and National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to provide management education, training, research and consultancy services to cooperatives and rural development organisations in India. The aim of the institute is to educate a new breed of professional rural managers having appropriate values and ethos to help rural organisations and institutions in professionalising their management and empower rural people through self-sustaining processes. Entry is through a written test, common for PRM, FPRM and CPDM programmes followed by an interview

Wishlist
A swimming pool on campus could be a great idea

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