Wanted: Women to drive development in Maoist areas

November 20th, 2011 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) In an effort to bridge the development deficit in areas seen as Maoist hotbeds, the government is encouraging young women to take up the challenge by becoming Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellows (PMRDF).

Launched in September this year, the PMRDF scheme aims at deploying young professionals in each of the 60 left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected districts to assist the district collector in implementing the government’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP).

Interestingly, among the 60 district collectors in LWE areas, only four are women.

“We are encouraging women to take up the challenge of working in the LWE areas. We don’t want them to be held back,” Nandita Chatterjee, deputy director general of the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), told IANS.

The government is looking for graduates/post-graduates in law, engineering and medicine, preferably aged between 25 and 30 years. The fellows would have a two-year contract and get an honorarium with performance linked bonus, said officials.

Chatterjee said they have received 792 applications till Nov 17 for the scheme, which is open till Dec 4.

“There is a shortage of young and qualified professionals in the district administration in the LWE areas,” said a senior official of the rural development ministry, which controls CAPART.

The government launched IAP in 2010 to push development after the home ministry identified 60 tribal and backward districts as LWE affected areas.

Under IAP, each district gets a grant of Rs.55 crore which is utilised through a committee headed by the district collector. The superintendent of police and the district forest officer are also members of the panel.

The committee draws up plans to create public infrastructure and services like schools, anganwadi centres, primary health centres, drinking water supply and village roads in public places to address the problem of underdevelopment in the LWE areas.

Officials said the PMRDF scheme provides an opportunity for committed young people to contribute to development and welfare in rural and tribal areas of the country.

The government hopes the training process and intensive development facilitation work at the village, block and district levels through the fellows will provide an exceptional growth potential.

Besides functioning as development facilitators in the IAP districts, the fellows would also provide necessary analysis of the ground level situation and ways to handle them.

The fellows would actively pursue three key strategies of finding ways of resourcing all planned activities and rational budgeting, exploring alternative ways of delivering services to the most deprived communities and triggering processes which would support the envisioned changes.

Officials said the move would be complemented by supportive action such as building capacity of district and block officials, triggering district-wide social mobilisation, particularly among the youth, and building strong relationships with the panchayats.

(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted at amit.a@ians.in)

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