Cover story: The gaping hole: Digital advancements and challenges in the urban-rural space
NIRDPR online master trainers training programme on ‘media for rural development’ conducted for rural journalists
Solid Waste Management in Rural Areas
E-Training on Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change
NIRDPR and NIMSME, Hyderabad sign MoU
Online National Conference of State Level Master Trainers (SLMT) and officials on Block Panchayat Development Plan and District Panchayat Development Plan
Ministry of Jal Sakthi recognises NIRDPR as a Key Resource Centre
Regional Online Training Programme on Project Management of Rural Development Programmes
CHRD, NIRDPR conducts online workshop on preparing research proposal
NIRDPR observes Anti-Terrorism Day

Cover story

The gaping hole: Digital advancements and challenges in the urban-rural space

India is using the ICT applications for economic development in key sectors such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and governance, automobiles, banking and financial services, consumer markets, e-commerce, engineering and exports. As per the TRAI report, rural internet subscribers account for more than 38per cent of the total internet subscribers in the country as of March 2020. In the backdrop of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, this article looks at how this forced digital migration has accelerated certain sectors. It concludes with questions on how such applications can be applied equitably.  

Prominent ICT Interventions in few sectors

According to the KPMG report, India’s newly digitising sectors have the potential to create sizable economic value by 2025: from $130 billion to $170 billion in financial services, including digital payments; $50 billion to $65 billion in agriculture; $25 billion to $35 billion each in retail and e-commerce, logistics and transportation; and $10 billion in energy and healthcare. Let us briefly examine these sectors.

Fintech, the technology that enables banking and financial services, is offering services in the form of products, applications, processes and models. The fast growth is enabled by the rising digital penetration in India and the use of smartphones. A KPMG report predicted that the transaction value for the Indian Fintech sector will reach USD to $140 billion in 2023.

The new Education Policy that was released in July 2020 has come as the harbinger of hope to make India a “Vishwaguru.” The policy covers all aspects of internationalisation, viz. attracting a large number of foreign students to India, increasing collaborations with foreign universities, and joint research among many others. The multidisciplinary education with a flexible curriculum opens avenues to top universities for setting up branch campuses in India, laying down clear guidelines for Trans-National Education programmes, and promoting the digitalisation of education.

As lockdowns and the threat of COVID-19 infection kept most indoors, consumers/people across India turned towards online deliveries of almost all necessities — groceries and electronics to medicines. The number of internet users is expected to increase at a CAGR of 8.78 per cent in 2020-25. Rising internet penetration will directly boost e-commerce in India. According to a Razorpay survey, e-commerce transactions have increased by 71.3per cent between April and September 2020. Also, in 2020, tier-III markets have recorded a 53 per cent year-over-year growth (YOY) in e-commerce adoption. Programmes such as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) are bolstering growth in the sector by enlarging the canvas of the pharmaceutical market.

Social commerce is evolving as a new communication channel and transaction model for small and midsized companies, as it allows efficient online product discovery and easier conversation with brands. Moreover, this model could empower more than 40 million businesses by offering a direct line of communication to customers and a niche market to every retailer because of India’s large consumer base. The AatmaNirbhar Bharat initiative is bolstering the social commerce industry by allowing domestic producers to transform their business strategy and shift from in-store sales to online deliveries. Also, the ‘#VocalforLocal’ movement is encouraging technological innovations, making the country competitive and improving its global economic engagement.

Another important sector is the food retail sector. There is growth in the organised food retail sector and increase in urbanisation. MSMEs are playing a vital role in India’s food processing chain through various advancements in skills and technology. The online food ordering business in India is witnessing exponential growth. There is high demand for packaged, healthy and immunity booster snacks such as roasted nuts, popcorns, and roasted pulses. The ‘Make in India’ campaign has prioritised the food processing sector and promoted investments in the sector. In addition, the government has established 18 mega food parks and 134 cold chain projects to develop the food processing supply chain. These initiatives are likely to boost food processing companies. In September 2020, the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MOFPI) approved 28 new local cold chain infrastructure projects to boost the export potential of the local agri-food sector and reduce food waste. These 28 projects fall under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan SAMPADA Yojana (PMKSY) scheme, with Rs. 2.08 billion (US$ 28 million) aid from the Central government. These projects will not only boost the food processing sector but also streamline the agricultural supply chain, generate employment, provide better prices to farmers, end-users and benefit the allied sectors. In addition, the government approved seven food processing projects worth Rs. 234 crore (US$ 31.63 million), including grant-in-aid of Rs. 60.87 crore (US$ 8.23 million) in Meghalaya, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In Kerala, food chains are established with the concept of One District One Product (ODOP). A range of products including mussels, tapioca, coconut oil and spices are considered under this initiative for various districts. In Telangana, tribal women started a food processing unit in Untnoor with an aim to localise production and address malnutrition, besides improving the economic conditions of tribal communities. Punjab has also launched the ODOP scheme in Chandigarh. The growth of food processing sector has led to the demand in retail and the rise of health-conscious consumers, who opt for safe and branded food. The pandemic has played a role in pushing agriculture and horticulture. Currently, the Indian food processing industry has a good mix of operational MSMEs. A strong crop value chain with adequate funding and technology applications will boost the food processing sector via the MSME sector.

The latest addition in the digital graph has been the launch of a new ITR filing portal by the Income Tax Department in June, making the refund and tracking of IT returns easier.

Covid Pandemic and resultant Healthcare implications

The pandemic has expedited the process of ICT adoption in all spheres including rural development. ICT solutions, particularly identification, isolation, contact tracing, and treatment to deal with the evolving situation in the country have been possible with the help of a number of mobile applications and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tools which have emerged during this time. The information asymmetry and digital gaps lay exposed in crucial sectors like health and education. The unprecedented crisis due to COVID-19 has accelerated the process of digitalisation of many services and businesses including healthcare services, education, online delivery of goods and services, online payments, and work from home.

Drones are being used for enforcing strict quarantine and social distancing and for disinfection purposes. Robots are assisting in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and sanitising COVID-19 wards. Telemedicine is providing solutions for e-health check-ups. Big data and Artificial Intelligence are being used for research and development (R&D) purposes. One of the unique methods adopted by the Department of Telecom, Government of India for mass awareness is to put COVID-19 awareness messages as a caller tune instead of a regular ringtone. The Government of India and WhatsApp have launched a WhatsApp bot called MyGov Helpdesk (WhatsApp Number: +919013151515) where citizens can send their queries related to COVID-19 and receive instant authoritative answers. MyGov Social Media Hub also provides a wide range of information channels concerning COVID-19.

Initiatives by States

The States have also come up with useful apps. Gok Direct Kerala app is a joint initiative by the Government of Kerala and Qkopy (a local social communication platform). The app has been designed to generate awareness and disseminate credible information related to COVID-19. The Government of Delhi has launched a mobile app named ‘Delhi Corona’ to fill the existing ‘information gap’ related to COVID-19. It provides real-time information on the availability of beds and ventilators at both government and private hospitals designated for COVID-19 treatment in the national capital. Some of the innovative technologies to contain the virus are being pilot tested in many States in India. Milagrow Human Tech has launched ‘Milagrow iMap9, a robot designed for floor disinfection purposes, which can navigate and sanitise floors without any human involvement. Garuda Aerospace, a Chennai based start-up, has developed an automated disinfecting Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) called “Corona-Killer 100” (a disinfectant spraying drone). These “Corona-Killer 100” drones are established for disinfection purposes across 26 cities in India.

The Government of West Bengal has launched an app named ‘Sandhane’ (Search) to support community health workers like Accredited Social Health Activists(ASHA) in tracing COVID-19 suspects in rural and remote areas (Nag, 2020). ASHA workers will visit each household and take note in case there are significant numbers of people suffering from fever or other COVID-19 symptoms in a specific area. They will feed this data into the ‘Sandhane’ app which is regularly monitored by the State authorities. A Rapid Response Team (RRT) would be sent to the area immediately for further action.

The Aarogya Setu App has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India (Wikipedia 2020; National Informatics Centre, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, Government of India 2020a; Mitter 2020). It is a contact tracing app available in 11 languages.

Maha Kavach is a joint initiative by Maharashtra State Innovation Authority, National Health Authority, Nashik District Innovation Council, Nashik Municipal Corporation, Digital Impact Square (DISQ) and Kumbathon Foundation. It is basically a geofencing app and helps track the movement of COVID-19 suspects in and out of the quarantine facilities. Similarly, Quarantine Monitor App is an initiative by Tamil Nadu Government. The app will give an alert to the monitoring authorities in case the suspect moves 500 metres or one kilometre away from their home location. Corona Watch is an initiative by Karnataka Government. The app shows the current location of COVID-19 patients and their movement history in the past 14 days.

CoBuddy is a geofencing app and helps in monitoring the movement of COVID-19 suspects under home quarantine. The Himachal Pradesh Government has developed a mobile application ‘Corona Mukt Himachal’ for tracking the movement of COVID-19 suspects under home quarantine. SMC COVID-19 TrackerApp is an initiative by Gujarat Government. This app requires users to upload their selfie and press a button on the app every hour to update their location. If there is any change in the GPS coordinates, the person will be moved to mass quarantine centres run by the government.

Covicare and Coviguard apps are being used by three municipal corporations, namely Navi Mumbai, Thane and Panvel in Maharashtra. These apps are developed with the support of the Directorate of Industries. Covicare is helpful in conducting household surveys and getting the health statistics from the residents. The Government of Punjab has developed a multipurpose app called COVA Punjab. It gives the citizens access to a real-time dashboard for Punjab, India and world statistics, helpline numbers, prevention measures, government advisories, travel instructions and more. mCOVID-19 is an initiative by the Government of Mizoram. It is a mobile-based application for providing authentic information and updates related to COVID-19.

The SAHYOG app is developed by the Survey of India, India’s National Mapping Agency (NMA) under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. The main objective to launch the app is to help government improve its response system. It helps community workers in carrying out door-to-door surveys, public awareness campaigns, contact tracing and delivery of essential items.

A number of private agencies have also pitched in. The Indian firm Ola has made available its technology platform “Ola CONNECTS” to the Indian Government to manage their on-ground operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Ola CONNECTS is currently being used by Punjab Mandi Board for tracking and monitoring the movement of millions of farmers. Ola CONNECTS also helps farmers in the issuance of delivery passes based on real-time crowd status and accessing real-time updates related to COVID-19. The police authorities in Kasaragod district of Kerala have been using Unmaze, a mobile application developed by Innefu Labs. It is being used for contact tracing and quarantine monitoring purposes.

Remote monitoring systems have been launched by various States in India. The Milagrow Humanoid ELF is designed to facilitate remote interaction with COVID-19 patients and their monitoring without any person-to-person contact, hence significantly reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Monal 2020 is a remote health monitoring solution built by Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), under the Department of Atomic Energy. Monal 2020 consists of a wearable instrument for monitoring COVID-19 patient’s vital parameters like body temperature, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, heart rate, etc. The system also uses Google Maps or BHUVAN software (developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation) for identification of patient location. Helyxon, a Chennai-based start-up, in association with IIT Madras’ Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC) has launched two devices for remote patient monitoring. The Kerala Government has initiated the use of robot KARMI-Bot in one of the hospitals in Ernakulum district to serve food and medicines to COVID-19 patients. Besides, Nightingale-19 can deliver food, medicines and other essential items. It also provides a video conferencing facility to interact with the patient.

Medanta Hospital in Delhi is using a comprehensive telemedicine platform ‘Medanta eCLINIC’ for virtual consultation. Apollo Hospitals are also providing e-consultation facility to enable patients to seek medical care while being at home.

However, the most vulnerable sections of society – the poor and elderly – are less likely to benefit from these interventions. Most of these mobile apps are designed for smartphones and the poor are less likely to afford them while the elderly are less likely to use them. Therefore, efforts should be directed towards scaling up those ICT interventions which enable the inclusion of these vulnerable groups. Misinformation on social media platforms is another challenge in the age of COVID-19.


In the sizable achievements enumerated above, where does rural India stand to gain?

Let us consider the most important e-pharmacies sector which will be most vital for the third wave. Currently, most e-pharmacies provide user interfaces and support systems only in English ignoring the masses who know only native languages. Therefore, there is a need for reaching out to customers for deeper penetration through apps, customer support and payment systems. E-pharmacies will have to establish logistics channels to reach customers in remote cities and towns, and achieve significant growth potential. Another initiative can be digital provisions and infrastructure for a strong crop value chain with adequate funding and technology applications to boost the food processing sector via the MSME sector. The pandemic has exposed the digital gap between the urban and the rural in the most brutal way. For the equitable spread of digital fruits, there is a major thrust required from both government and the PPP model to fill the requirements of the basic infrastructural needs. There is an urge for wider consultations across government, industry, civil society, and citizens to discuss various issues to arrive at innovative solutions for achieving the desired outcomes of Digital India. DeitY has already launched a digital platform named “myGov” ( to facilitate collaborative and participative governance. Moreover, several consultations and workshops have been organised to discuss the implementation approach of the vision areas of Digital India. As technology and innovations converge to provide newer platforms to fight the pandemic and progress, active steps need to be taken now to tackle the third wave which will hit in the coming weeks.

Dr. Akanksha Shukla
Associate Professor & Head (i/c)
Centre for Development Documentation & Communication,

NIRDPR online master trainers training programme on ‘media for rural development’ conducted for rural journalists

The Centre for Development Documentation and Communication (CDC), National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR), Hyderabad organised a seven-day online training programme on “Media for Rural Development’ from 26th April 2021- 2nd May 2021. This programme was designed with the aim to strengthen rural coverage and generate content for media and equip panchayat level personnel to handle media. The major objectives of the training programme include imparting training to the officials/personnel at the grassroots level on how to handle media; enhance knowledge of participants on various aspects of rural development; orient their attitude for professional coverage by facilitating interaction with media; document the success stories of the innovative initiatives made in the field and enlarge the feeling of inclusive and overall growth and equip them for achieving it. The participants are journalists who are reporting on rural issues working in newspapers/audiovisual/community radio channels.

Dr. Akanksha Shukla, Associate Professor & Head (i/c), CDC, NIRDPR and Coordinator of the programme inaugurated it and welcomed the participants. She emphasised the importance of the training programme for journalists.

The first day of the programme focused majorly on understanding the content sourcing, rural communication structure, new investigative stories with case studies, data verification and fact-checking tools. From the second day to the fifth day, the sessions covered different themes of rural development including Geo-informatics applications for rural development, IT in rural development, gender issues, social audit in rural development, agrarian issues, Panchayati Raj, Entrepreneurship, good governance, financial inclusion, tribal development, technology & livelihood promotion, impact of climate change on life, CSR in Rural Development and major rural development schemes such as MGNREGA, DDU-GKY and PMAY. On the sixth day, the session covered digital media, producing and uploading the content related to the rural development issues on the digital platforms. The seventh-day sessions focused on making a documentary on mobile phone and editing the documentaries by using different software and tools.

In the training programme, experienced subject matter specialists including faculty members of NIRDPR and external resource persons delivered lectures. Faculties invited from other centres of the NIRDPR were Dr. P. Kesava Rao, Associate Prof. & Head, CGARD, Shri K. Rajeshwar, CICT, Dr. N.V. Madhuri, Associate Prof. & Head, CGSD and CRU, Dr. Dheeraja, Associate Prof. & Head, CSA, Dr. Radhika Rani, Associate Prof. & Head, CAS and NRLM, Dr. Kathiresan, Associate Prof. & Head, CPRDP&SSD, Dr. P.P. Sahu, Associate Prof., CED&FI, Dr. M. Srikanth, Associate Prof. & Head, CED&FI, Dr. Satyaranjan Mahakul, Asst. Prof., Dr. Jyothis Sathyapalan, Associate Prof. & Head, CWE&L, Dr. Sandhya, Project Director, DDU-GKY, Dr. Ramesh Shakthivel, Associate Prof. & Head, CIAT&SJ, Prof. Ravindra Gavali, Head, CNRM and CRTCN, Dr. Murugesan, Director (i/c), NIRDPR- NERC and Dr. R. Ramesh, Associate Prof. & Head, CRI. The external resource persons from other reputed institutions were Dr. K. Raja Ram, Telangana University, Dr. W. R. Reddy, IAS, former Director General, NIRDPR, Dr. Ravi Kumar, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research and Shri Ritesh Taksande, The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.

A total of 26 participants took part in this programme. They represented 14 States (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal). The participants found the programme very useful and suggested that such kind of programmes should be conducted as a physical training programme at regular intervals. It is reflected through their feedback that there is an improvement in their knowledge (92 per cent), skill (94 per cent) and change in attitude (89 per cent) after attending this programme.

Smart phone gear used in production of short films

The participants appreciated the programme team for designing this programme in such a way that they could refresh and update their knowledge and skills on different rural development themes/ issues. The programme was coordinated by Dr. Akanksha Shukla, Associate Professor & Head i/c, CDC. Dr. Venkatamallu Thadaboina, Research Officer as acted as co-coordinator of the training programme and played an active role in the overall management of the programme. The programme team thanked all the participants for their active participation in the training programme and advised them to use the knowledge gained in the training programme while reporting the news/issues of rural development in their future assignments.

Solid Waste Management in Rural Areas

Management of solid waste has become a matter of serious concern even in rural areas due to the influence of media, rural market penetration by products and their influence on cultural practices. One of the important components of the Swachh Bharat Mission-G under Phase – II is ‘Solid Waste Management.’ The Rurban Mission of the Ministry of Rural Development is executed by converging schemes from the Central and various State government departments, coupled with a critical gap fund provided by the Rurban Mission. Most of the ICAPs (Integrated Cluster Action Plans) prepared under the Rurban Mission have solid waste management as a component. Therefore, training the officials involved in implementing SBM-G, Rurban Mission, and MGNREGS assumes significance.

India has a few Gram Panchayats (GPs) that manage solid waste successfully. However, a cluster of GPs together managing solid waste is rare to find, if one wanted to pay a visit and learn. In order to facilitate the State and district level government officials in-charge of Rurban Mission, NIRDPR conducted two, five-day online training programmes: one in the April and other in May 2021 on ‘Cluster Approach to Solid Waste Management.’ Reputed Garbologists and development professionals involved in solid waste management took part and shared their knowledge on this subject. The main lessons that emerged from the various sessions conducted are as follows:

  • Experience shows that it is always good to manage wet waste either at the household level or at the community level and dry waste should be managed at the cluster level. When it comes to managing dry waste such as bottles, plastics, etc., it is good to go for a cluster level approach. It means combining a cluster of Gram Panchayats to manage the Material Recovery Facility set up as envisaged by SWM Rules-2016.
  • Wherever Rurban Cluster-based waste management units are set up, the team involved may consider (i) banning all single-use plastics as part of the campaign; and (ii) implementing ‘Green Protocol’ in local schools, public functions, training/IEC campaigns, local marriages, sports events, annual temple festivals and other celebrations. A one-pager Green Protocol may be prepared for use by GPs.
  • The GPs in every Rurban cluster have a Cluster Development Management Unit (CDMUs), which is a representative body of all the GPs in the cluster. The same CDMU can sign an MoU amongst themselves detailing out the waste management arrangement in the cluster, unless the CDMU members decided otherwise such as a new body such as Cluster Waste Reduction & Management Committee (CWRC) may assume such role. The MoU, thus prepared shall clarify the powers and functions of every participating GP, the role of households, the role of sanitation workers, and other provisions that a waste management system may entail. This document [MoU] will be the reference point for obtaining clarification in case there is a dispute, misunderstanding or non-participation, non-cooperation, non-compliance to any aspect of the waste management chain/system.
  • GPs in a cluster, managing waste does not necessarily always mean GPs directly managing waste. The GPs together or the CDMU can decide contracting out waste management services to an outside agency or trained SHGs. This outside agency may be a professional NGO, or a Private Waste Management agency, or an agency that the CDMU or the GPs together may decide to engage for this purpose on payment. The terms and conditions of waste management service, and the payment for services, etc., shall be written down clearly in stamp papers for signing a contract/agreement. This will be equally binding for both the parties involved.
  • It is possible that few Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the Rurban clusters have already established solid waste management systems. Our attempt to implement cluster-approach should make it a point not to disturb the existing system, if it is found to be conceptually sound and practically workable/working. We need to give shape to our approach in alignment with the existing system, unless the existing system requires revamping for reasons such as lack of scientificity, etc.
  • As far as possible, the GPs in waste management clusters should encourage households to do ‘home-composting.’ Do the required campaign, impart training demonstrate and let them know how it should be done. If the decision is door-to-door collection of waste, then it is intelligible to collect only the dry and plastic wastes.  If dry and plastic wastes only are collected from households, then collection frequency may be alternate days or weekly twice. This helps reduce the number of trips, and the labour required. If the arrangement is for the collection of wet waste from households it has to be necessarily collected daily and treated/processed to convert to compost or biogas daily.
  • Respective GPs can take responsibility for the door-to-door collection of segregated waste. The processing of wet waste through some composting techniques can be done at the central processing unit (CPU) meant for the cluster. Gram Panchayats concerned should take responsibility to transport the segregated waste (collected door-to-door) to the CPU. If required one or two transfer stations may be set up. At the CPU receiving the segregated waste by weight, and processing them using appropriate treatment method may be as per arrangement agreeable to all the GPs involved.
  • Since handling the quantum of waste to be handled from multiple GPs obviously will be more, the processing facilities have to be set up accordingly. This may spell economic viability. It is possible that the quality of wet waste received from all the GPs may not be of the same quality. Therefore, both windrow composting and vermicomposting may be set up for processing wet waste. Dry waste (plastics, bottles, cardboards, tetra packs, Multi-Layered Packaging, etc.) can be classified and sent to scrap dealers or recyclers or to the Plastic Waste Management Unit proposed to be set up at every block under the SBM-G. The CDMU should collect the list of scrap dealers/recyclers (and also EPR agencies in each block/district) in order to see that waste plastics, bottles and other recyclable items get sold periodically. Otherwise, they tend to get accumulated in the Material Recovery Centre (or at storage places) occupying space discouraging the sanitation workers.
  • The idea of waste to wealth is fascinating. But all said and done, case studies of successful SWM Units as well as experience show that resource recovery/ converting waste into cash is insufficient to meet the operation and maintenance expenses of SWM Units. Therefore, every GP has to generate own source revenue through the collection of user charges, besides setting apart a portion of XV FC funds for the purpose of meeting the wages of sanitation workers (or O & M expenses). This looks like a pragmatic approach to be able to run the SWM Unit sustainably – especially financially by paying for the services rendered by the service providers if CDMU appointed one. Even otherwise meeting the wages of sanitation workers, vehicle maintenance, etc., require funds, which cannot be met if the source of income is assumed to be ‘resource recovery alone’.
  • The next important point is that it is good to keep the investment in infrastructure and machinery less. Waste management must be viewed more as a socio-psychological problem. It requires to be solved more through well-designed Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) techniques. Machinery and technologies must be viewed as an attendant to it. In other words, technology must be viewed as an aid to reduce the drudgery involved in the waste management process. Technology per se does not solve the problem of waste. Therefore, our aim should be towards progressive reduction of waste, and not to send across a message that ‘you generate waste, we are here to clean up’.

Dr. R. Ramesh
Associate Professor, CRI,
NIRDPR, Hyderabad

E-Training on Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change

A slide from the presentation made during the training programme

An e-training programme on Sustainable Livelihoods and Adaptation to Climate Change (SLACC) was organised by the Centre for Natural Resource Management, Climate Change and Disaster Mitigation (CNRM&CCDM), National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (NIRDPR), Rajendranagar, Hyderabad from May 17th -21st, 2021.

The course team welcomed the participants to the e-training programme emphasising the ongoing climatic impacts and the need for the implementation of adaptive strategies in the agricultural sector, which is the backbone of India. The welcome address was followed by an introduction to the programme and programme schedule, and the deliverables during the programme by the course team.

During the e-training programme, the resources persons from NIRDPR, ICAR-CRIDA and ICAR-IIRR educated the participants about various climate-resilient intervention/technologies. The major issues covered during the programme were climate change and its impact on water, agriculture and allied sectors, Climate Change Adaptation Planning (CCAP), adaptation practices in rice (DSR, MSRI, MT, AWD, etc.), soil health and nutrient management, Weather Based Agro Advisory Services (WBASS), crop insurance, livestock and dairy farming: fodder crops production and management, community disaster management, Alternate livelihoods (Azolla, Mushroom, Kitchen Garden) and convergence of flagship programmes.

Apart from enlightening the participants with the knowledge on various climate-resilient technologies, short films and success stories on the SLACC project were shown, which in turn, created more enthusiasm and interest in the participants. The method compensated the field level exposure to different technologies. Apart from the above sessions on technical knowledge, the resources persons clarified the doubts of the participants through chat.

A total of 100 participants, including staff from State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM), line departments and non-government organisations, university faculty, researchers, farmers and other individuals dealing with sustainable livelihoods and agriculture-related subjects attended the training. The course team included Dr. K. Krishna Reddy, Associate Professor, CNRM and CCDM, Dr. Subrat K. Mishra, Associate Professor, CNRM and CCDM and Dr. Ravindra S. Gavali, Professor and Head, CNRM and CCDM.

NIRDPR and NIMSME, Hyderabad sign MoU

National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, NIRDPR and the National Institute for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ni-msme) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly organise entrepreneurship and skill development for rural clusters and Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The MoU signing ceremony took place online on 3rd June, 2021 from 4.00 to 5.00 pm. It was a virtual MoU signing, where the MoU document was to be exchanged in person the next day. 

The memorandum also includes hand-holding activities such as mentoring, preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPRs), linking with financial institutions and implementation of the concepts such as of one village one entrepreneur and one district one product.

Discussing the agreement, Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, DirectorGeneral, NIRDPRsaid that the pandemic situation has created lots of structural and hidden unemployment in rural areas.“The need of the hour is diversifying livelihoods and creating opportunities for jobs and new entrepreneurship avenues. Small and micro enterprises must move closer to villages so that the rural poor are insulated from being severely hit by this pandemic. The Rurban Mission of the MoRD aims at creating 1000 such enterprising rurban clusters in the coming 3 – 4 years. Thus, we have lots of scope for livelihoods diversification, and micro enterprise promotion. This MoU between NIRDPR and ni-msme for sure shall go a long way in that direction,” he said.

Ms. S. Glory Swarupa, Director General, said ni-msme she was happy to renew the MoU with NIRDPR. “Both the institutions have a great legacy and we look forward to work along with NIRDPR to strengthen micro enterprises, especially women-led, agro-based and self-help groups in the rural sector with innovative interventions. It is proposed to have knowledge sharing through faculty development programmes and collaborative projects that will help in the revival and rejuvenation of distressed micro, small and medium enterprises in the country. The working committee will prepare an action for implementation of entrepreneurship & skill development programmes in rural clusters,” she noted.

Earlier, Lt. Col. Ashutosh Kumar, Registrar & Director (Admin), NIRDPR delivered the welcome address. Shri Shashi Bhushan, Deputy Director General (i/c) and Director (Financial Management) & Financial Advisor, NIRDPR introduced the mandate and the journey of NIRDPR. On behalf of ni-msme, Shri Sandeep Bhatnagar, Director-MDB, ni-msme introduced the mandate and the journey of ni-msme. Dr. R. Ramesh, Associate Professor & Head, CRI proposed the vote of thanks.

Online National Conference of State Level Master Trainers (SLMT) and officials on Block Panchayat Development Plan and District Panchayat Development Plan

A slide from the presentation made during the training programme

The Centre for Panchayati Raj, Decentralised Planning and Social Service Delivery of NIRDPR, Hyderabad, organised an online national conference of State Level Master Trainers (SLMT) and officials on Block Panchayat Development Plan (BPDP) and District Panchayat Development Plan (DPDP) on 5th May, 2021. A total of 312 participants attended the online national conference from all the States and Union Territories. The participants selected were State level Master Trainers, higher officials of SIRDs and Panchayati Raj departments. The conference aimed at facilitating cross-learning among the States in the preparation of BPDP and DPDP. Five States (Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Uttarakhand and West Bengal) presented their very good BPDP for one intermediate Panchayat and very good DPDP for one district Panchayat in the States. These States detailed the steps and processes involved in their BPDP/DPDP preparation and the focus areas of plans, convergence with line department initiatives and integration of plans for various tiers, among other issues addressed in their BPDP and DPDP.

Dr. Anjan Kumar Bhanja, Associate Professor, CPRDP&SSD, welcomed the participants and explained the background of the online national conference. Dr. Chandra Sekhar Kumar, Additional Secretary, MoPR, delivered the keynote address and highlighted the achievements of   GPDP and the importance of BPDP and DPDP. He further emphasised that all three tiers of Panchayats should also actively monitor the implementation of the prepared plans. All the observations identified through the monitoring activity should be recorded and submitted to the appropriate authority. He emphasised that all the three tiers of Panchayats should focus on strengthening their service delivery which will help to generate their own source revenue (OSR). Dr. Anjan Kumar Bhanja further mentioned that the meetings of standing committees/Sectoral Working Groups will be asked to record mandatorily as a measure to strengthen the institutional functioning of local governments. This will further improve transparency and accountability, resulting in good governance at the grassroots level.

The online national conference received favourable feedback from the participants. Ms. Piyali Roy, Master Trainer, STARPARD, West Bengal, stated that the programme gave her an insight into the best practices adopted by the State and policies in preparation of the Panchayat Development Plan. She added that it enriched the participants with knowledge and attitude in decentralised planning, convergence mechanisms and knowledge management system.

Another participant, Ms. A. Prasanthi, Sr Faculty, ETC, Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh expressed that the online national conference was beneficial to the participants as they could know about new ideas, experiences, approaches, initiatives and innovative practices adopted by the other States in BPDP/DPDP.

Ms. Mini Rani Sharma, State Project Manager from Jharkhand, who presented the BPDP/DPDP on behalf of the Rural Development Department (Panchayati Raj), Government of Jharkhand, expressed her thanks to NIRDPR for organising the national conference. She said that the online conference was beneficial, informative, well organised despite the limitations imposed due to the pandemic, adding that itgave the attendees valuable guidance towards BPDP &DPDP formulation and an in-depth understanding of the subject.

Dr. Anjan Kumar Bhanja, Associate Professor, CPRDP&SSD, NIRDPR, with support from Project Management Unit Team for Model GP Clusters, coordinated the programme.

Ministry of Jal Sakthi recognises NIRDPR as a Key Resource Centre

The Jal Jeevan Mission Division of the Ministry of Jal Sakthi, Government of India has recognised the NIRDPR as a Key Resource Centre (KRC) for training and research on water and sanitation-related themes. The Centre for Rural Infrastructure at the NIRDPR, Hyderabad is the Nodal Centre, which will act as the KRC on behalf of NIRDPR. There are training modules prepared and joint training programmes being planned on Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).

The activities in the agenda include Integrating Jal Jeevan Mission into the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP), taking up training programmes for various stakeholders in States and districts. Efficient utilisation of 15th Finance Commission funds for water and sanitation works at Gram Panchayat level. The KRC will bring out training modules on a series of thematic areas within the WASH sector.  

Dr. R. Ramesh
Head, CRI and Associate Professor,

Regional Online Training Programme on Project Management of Rural Development Programmes

A slide from the presentation made during the training programme

A 10-day regional online training programme on ‘Project Management of Rural Development Programmes’ was jointly organised by the Centre for Planning Monitoring & Evaluation (CPME) and the Centre for Good Governance and Policy Analysis (CGGPA), NIRDPR from 17th -28th May, 2021.

Considering the need and continuous demand for appropriate planning and implementation of RD policies and schemes, and to ensure that the public resources are well utilised for intended results, the programme was designed for encouraging the project mode planning and implementation to ascertain whether the expenditure of programme is delivering the desired outcomes or otherwise. In this direction, the programme was intended for enhancing the capacities of rural development practitioners on project management which aims at making them: (a) understand the need for a systematic approach in planning and implementation (b) hands-on training on application of tools and techniques in project mode implementation and (c) designing a model project plan for any current issue.

A total of 29 participants, ranging from RD practitioners to M&E department officials, faculty members, rural development scholars and students, PRIs, NGOs, and CBOs attended the training programme. 

This programme was undertaken to cover entire project cycle activities with suitable examples of rural development programmes focusing on three important stages (i) Project planning (ii) Implementation and (iii) Evaluation. The topics covered in the programme mainly focussed on problems and constraints existing in the planning and implementation process, issues and concerns for effective management of RD programmes, and the importance and trends of project management in the development context.

The participants were introduced to tools such as (i) Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) as an appropriate planning and management tool explaining various components of LFA and their importance in project management which include identification of RD issues and formulation with specified objectives, preparation of strategies and application of project matrix for planning, identification of institutions and existing policies and their support (technical and financial), use of appraisal techniques and testing feasibility of project plan, (ii) Results-Based Management (RBM) in defining the results and managing to achieve them through proper tracking/monitoring and documenting the progress of change which includes how to make the assumptions true and handle if they happen to be risk (risk management); accountability, performance, etc., and (iii) Theory of Change (ToC) for explicitly explaining the real change with focus on how to conduct different types of evaluation for the benefit of learning in  order to improve the performance of the projects with better results.   

The contents of the training programme were delivered through a judicious mix of lectures- cum-discussions, case study presentations and group exercises. In the group exercises, each group was given the task of analysing any rural development programme of their choice and prepare an appropriate model plan. Practical exercises after key sessions followed by group discussions facilitated the participants to have improved/refined knowledge. Participants presented their learning from the training and shared their views on key learnings. The programme activities were carried out to explain and discuss the topic-wise understanding, and evaluated through quiz, MCQs and assignments. Dr. G. V. Raju, Professor and Head, Centre for Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation (CPME) and Dr. K. Prabhakar, Assistant Professor, Centre for Good Governance & Policy Analysis (CGGPA) organised this online training programme.

CHRD, NIRDPR conducts online workshop on preparing research proposal

The Centre for Human Resource Development organised an online programme on preparing research proposals in collaboration with the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Rajya Gramya Vikas Sansthan, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh from 27th April to 30th April 2021. This programme was fourth in the series to achieve saturation in giving training related to the research methodology topic to faculty of ETCs/RIRDS/DIRDs.

The objectives of the programme were

(1) To orient the participants on the importance of research in addressing developmental issues at the grassroots level.

(2) To equip the participants with the basic understanding of components of research proposal, and

(3) To provide handhold support to participants to prepare research proposal thereby upgrading the skills of participants.

A total of 19 officials working as District Training Officer, Extension Training officers, Senior Instructors, Research Associates at ETCs/RIRDs/DIRDs/SIRD Lucknow joined this programme.

Dr. R. Murugesan, Prof. & Head, Centre for Human Resource Development, NIRDPR, Hyderabad welcomed the participants. He spoke about the importance of carrying out research and its use in conducting training programmes.

The programme began with the self-introduction of participants. Dr. Lakhan Singh, Course Director briefed the course structure to the participants and requested them to follow the instructions judiciously.

Each day, a three-hour session was conducted from 10 am to 1 pm. To achieve the objectives of the programmes, the contents and sessions were structured in such a way that they covered the basic concepts that were used for preparing the research proposal. The contents of the programme covered were relevance of research in designing training programmes, components of research proposal (statement of the problem, need for the study, objective setting, research questions), research methodology (study design, data collection methods, conceptual framework, analytical framework, risks of subjects, limitation of the study), references, budget, timeline and appendices and how to write a research report.

On the second day, the participants were given the assignment to identify a research topic and prepare a small presentation on it. On the third and fourth days of the workshop, the participants were asked to make a presentation on their research topic and a panel of resource persons from NIRDPR were invited to comment on it.

Besides Programme Director, Dr. P. P. Sahu, Associate Professor, Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and Financial Inclusion, Dr. Sonal Mobar Roy, Assistant Professor, Centre of Post-Graduation Studies and Distance Education, and Dr. Ruchira Bhattacharya, Centre for Gender Studies and Development were invited as resource persons to handle the sessions and as expert panel members.  

Dr. D. C. Upadhyaya, Additional Director, DDUSIRD, Lucknow delivered the valedictory address. He highlighted the importance of carrying out research on issues that are pertinent at the grassroots level so that the findings can help to redesign the training programmes, thereby improving the capabilities of programme implementers. This will help them to implement the programmes more effectively and the maximum number of people will be benefited, he said and thanked NIRDPR for conducting this online workshop. He has asked all the participants to finalise the research proposals based on inputs given by NIRDPR faculty and submit them to DDUSIRD, Lucknow.

The programme was evaluated by the participants and it is evident from the report that there has been an improvement in all the three domains of a trainee, i.e. Knowledge (90 per cent), Skill (86 per cent) and Attitude (88 per cent) after attending this programme. The overall effectiveness of the programme was more than 90 per cent. The course team advised the participants to utilise the research fund of NIRDPR in carrying out small-scale research.

The programme was coordinated by Dr. Lakhan Singh, Assistant Professor, Centre for Human Resource Development, and Dr. D. C. Upadhyaya, Additional Director, DDUSIRD, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

NIRDPR observes Anti-Terrorism Day

Every year India observes 21st May as the Anti-Terrorism Day, the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi. The National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad observed the Anti-Terrorism Day on 21st May.  Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR administered the anti-terrorism pledge to the employees of the Institute, in Hindi and English. The entire event was organised virtually, adhering to the COVID-19 safety norms.

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