In 2012, the Ministry of Rural Development launched the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF). In this path-breaking initiative, young graduates from a variety of educational backgrounds—doctors, lawyers, engineers—were sent to some of India’s most backward and conflict-affected districts in a two-pronged approach: harness the energy of the youth by connecting them to hands-on, grassroots public service; and provide professional support at the ‘last mile’ of service delivery.
Volume II brings together case studies of the initiatives undertaken by the PMRDFs in a wide range of districts, from central India, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Northeast, all areas that are affected by conflict and what is termed Left-wing Extremism.
These initiatives focused on the fields of education, livelihoods, human rights, and participatory democracy. They also provide insights into the practical implementation issues faced at the local level, as well as evidence-based policy analyses of national flagship programmes.
The case studies, all accounts from the field, emphasise people’s participation and horizontal coordination across departments of local governments, important in light of the commitment of the Government of India and state governments to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The role of the PMRDF as a catalyst in accelerating development and ensuring sustainable livelihoods in conflict-affected districts has important implications for development policy advocacy not only in India, but also across the developing world.
K. Seeta Prabhu is Visiting Professor, and former Tata Chair Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and Director, PMRDF Scheme, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. She was earlier Head, Human Development Resource Centre, UNDP, India.
S. Parasuraman is Adjunct Professor and former Vice-Chancellor of the MIT World Peace University, Pune. He was former Director (2004-18), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and former Asia Policy Director, Action Aid International.