Working Towards Rural Prosperity
Dr L C Sharma, IIRD, Shimla tells CSR TIMES about the initiatives being taken by his organisation to give succour to rural poor

 

Q1: Tell us about IIRD. What are the primary activities and programmes?

IIRD- Institute for Integrated Rural Development is a developmental organisation dedicated for bringing rural prosperity through research & studies, training & capacity building, project planning & implementation, technical support & consultancies and institutional networking in the national and global perspective.

With the vision to become a reliable destination for developmental solutions, IIRD has been trying to bring transformation by intervening in the areas like Local Self Governance; Entrepreneurship & Skill Development; Natural Resource Management; Livelihood Promotion; Technology & Innovations and others.

Q2: We would like to know about IIRD Foundation for Sustainable Development. How does it help corporate imbibe sustainability?

IIRD Foundation for Sustainable Development, commonly known as IFSD is an associate company of IIRD incorporated with the mandate to plan and execute the developmental projects with SUSTAINABILITY as inbuilt core component. It helps Corporate in leveraging larger and longer period benefits from the projects for its beneficiaries. It does not promote the trend of completing projects and forgetting afterwards.

Q3: Which are the corporates you are working with at present. Tell us about the projects.

IIRD has worked with a number of corporates including PSUs for different projects as per the details below:
NTPC Ltd: Installation of Solar Street Lights.
ONGC Ltd: Preparation of DPR for Multipurpose Sports Complex
GAIL India Ltd: Setting up of Smart Classrooms
Engineers India Ltd: Setting up of Community Based RO Plants & Solar Street Lights
SJVN Ltd: Preparation of DPR on Model Village Bayal
NMDC: Formulation of Flora & Fauna Conservation Plan for its mining Project
NFL: Preparation of DPR on its Model Village Project.
NIFT: Study on Export Scenario in H.P.
Lafarge Group: Preparation of Fauna Conservation Plan
Livepure Foundation: Mobile Water Testing Lab
HDFC-ERGO / CAF India: Construction of School Building Apart from the above, dialogue is going on with a few more.

Q4: How do you view CSR in its new legalised avatar in India?

The legalised avatar of CSR is no doubt a boon for people who are benefitted. India is yet to wait for the holistic approach towards implementation of CSR projects as the existing operational modalities do not get sufficient space for the region or people in higher needs. All is subject to the prerogative of the corporate.

Q5: Have you noticed any changes in the attitude of the corporates after the Companies Act came into force?

There were only a handful corporate houses having inbuilt philanthropic approach before. After the existing Companies Act came into force, it created another task for the corporate to handle and that too within regulatory framework. Unfortunately, this has not so far been taken as the opportunity to serve people and bring smile on the faces of many though it is creating good impact as well.

Q6: What is the integrated Panchayat Development Programme? Please elaborate.

The Integrated Panchayat Development (IPD) Programme has been conceived by IIRD to achieve the essence of Swaraj by converting the Gram Panchayats as Tinny Republic. We want to see the Gram Panchayat functioning the way government of any sovereign country functions. IIRD is already experimenting the concept in Gram Panchayat SHOLI in Shimla district.

Q7: When is the Rural Conclave being organised and what are the highlights? 

The RURAL CONCLAVE is being organised on 30th September, 1st & 2nd October 2017 in SHOLI village in Nankhari Development Block of Shimla District in Himachal Pradesh. There has been a trend to discuss about the village development and poverty alleviation in hightech environment of metros with statistical imaginations, but we thought to talk of rural development while actually experiencing and living the life of villagers. The event has been designed in such a way that there is significant amount of “CARRY HOME” for the Industries, Students, Academia, Development Practioners and Others. The Conclave will offer the opportunities for the industries to collaborate on voluminous social ventures, students to learn the varied aspects on Integrated Development beyond theory, Academia to carry out developmental research, Developmental Practioners to enhance the horizon of thought process and know various innovations and Others to take rustic charm of the beautiful village with clean air, water with organic village food.

Q8: What are the salient features of an ideal village?

The salient features of an ideal village may include strengthened participatory governance; planning of the village on the analogy of town planning; adequacy of basic civic amenities including health, education and social security; sustainable livelihood options with enhanced capabilities of the people; and an environment conducive for evolution of the individualism.

Q9: How do you involve the community in the holistic development of the villages?

No village can sustain its progress until involvement of community is maximised. In the Integrated Panchayat Development scenario where the Gram Panchayat has to function like the government, we try to involve majority of the people in different committees and so called ministries with the accountable role of planning, resource utilisation, regulation and sustaining the actions in the respective committee or ministry. With the complete transparency in the planning, decision making and resource utilisation, people do take part in the process and maximise their involvement.

Q10: Which are the states other than Himachal Pradesh where you work or aim to work?

With the foot prints in 17 states, IIRD does have now PAN India presence. Apart from Himachal Pradesh, we have worked in Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Goa, Chhattisgarh and Arunanchal Pradesh. Apart from this, we have some kinds of the interventions with Bhutan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria. Now the aim is to have full-fledged offices in atleast 5 developmental countries by 2020.

Q11: How do you encourage villagers in becoming self-sufficient?

The challenging goal of self-sufficiency of villagers can be achieved only by giving facilitation support to the villagers. People in villages do also have ambitions to grow speedily but are bound to kill many of their wishes because of non-availability of knowledge, skills and resources. If these gaps are bridged, the development will get accelerated in the villages and the people enhance their capabilities and capable individual can become self sufficient. In this direction IIRD has launched Mission RIEV (Ruralising India- Empowering Villages) whereby the job opportunities have been created for 10,000 people in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Interestingly, Himachali people working in metros have shown interest to come back to the roots and serve the villagers which is Ruralisation in our terms.

Q12: Many rural belts of India are a victim of bad monsoons, natural calamities like cyclones and depression and also have a soil type which has restricted agricultural produce. What would be your advice to them on economic self sufficiency?

This should be a matter of grave concerns for every Indian where 130 crore people with more than 300 Lakh crore individual estimated wealth are not able to prevent farmers’ suicides. Nothing can be more curse than this that farmers are giving up and we all are mere spectators. This situation keeps on troubling us and finally we have taken a bold step to provide facilitation support to the villagers and to stand by them when in trouble through Mission RIEV. After successful piloting in Himachal, we are keen to take it on PAN India basis. This Mission is going to prevent the farmers suicides and offer them a number of alternatives; farm based or non-farm based to test their destinies ahead.