In the formative years of my career, I have actively engaged with Social Entrepreneurial ventures and NGOs. There is something pristine about working in the social sector; contentment received by success in this arena is unmatched and learning outcomes from failures motivate you to outperform yourself in the future. I’ve had an extensive outlook of this field while working in the head team of multiple organizations.
Inclination to make a career in the social sector came when I went to rural Rajasthan for an internship in the second year of my college (2015). This opportunity was to work under the guidance of first female MBA Sarpanch of India, Ms. Chhavi Rajawat, on diverse issues like governance, sanitation, financial literacy, gender sensitization, education, menstruation, and farming. It made me realize my privilege of having better access to education, healthcare, and social infrastructure. Back then, I used to remarkably undermine my work and efforts, as I couldn’t see the change that we had aimed for, after the completion of my tenure. This notion changed when I received a call 4 months later, after returning back to Delhi from the village.
The caller was my student, Vishnu, belonging to a lower caste family situated in a hamlet which had unequal access to water and subjected to different forms of discrimination in daily social discourse. His call on 5th September to wish me ‘happy teacher’s day, sir’ gave me more contentment than any contribution I had made in other arenas. It made me realize that we need to cherish each low hanging fruit that we get rid of while working on the long road to sustainably, equitably and inclusively bringing distributive measures in the society.
Currently, I’ve been working with Centre for Logical Research and Development Studies, an NGO on a panel with several Ministries and Departments of Government of India and various State Governments. During my fieldwork for the National Level Monitoring program of Gram Panchayat Development Plan in eastern Uttar Pradesh, I went to a flood-prone district, Bahraich. I interacted with more than 650 individuals belonging to the District Administration, Panchayati Raj Institutions, Self Help Groups and Village Organizations. The district was tackling challenges centering around healthcare, inter-block connectivity for villagers and meeting the target of Swachh Bharat Mission in the prescribed time. Disaster proneness and challenging terrain is a nightmare for policy implementing agencies.
In the backdrop of this, an interactive monitoring session left an indelible impression on my mind. The people of Mustafabad Village, along with PRI and District officials, set aside all the inhibitions and actively engaged in participatory self-governance. In a campaign meant for promoting evidence-based and truly inclusive development plans, this village set a benchmark for others on how to formulate and execute their vision in an effective, efficient and responsive manner. Amongst many teachings during my fieldwork, this experience remains peculiarly close to me.
These interactions made me realize that there are several low hanging fruits that we can easily get rid of by promoting youth mobilization. Grassroots level research and promotion of best practices can equip socially suppressed, economically exploited and politically passive communities in ensuring sustainable lifestyles for themselves. Hence, empowering them in the truest sense.
Tushar Singh Bodwal
Delegate, YIC IIT Delhi 2019