Thursday, June 27, 2013

Reviewing 1st National Symposium on Rural Management

“Small changes can produce big results – but the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.” – Peter Senge

XIMB hosted 1st National Symposium on Rural Management on November 9th-10th 2012 [Photo Album]. The event brought together institutions, academics, professionals, key client groups and other stakeholders to deliberate on the issues, pool experiences and develop strategies and designs for expansion, institutionalization and better domain engagement. Papers / presentations were invited on five aspects of the Rural Management field listed here -

1. Rural Management in the Next Decade – Tasks, Organizations and Professional Needs
2. Rural Management – Defining the Field
3. Programs in Rural Management – Intent, Design, Content and Issues
4. Praxis in Rural Management
5. Strengthening Rural Management

NSoRM Welcome Flash Video


I attended few of the lectures/presentation and it was worth attending them. Eminent personalities like Dr. Mihir Shah, K V Raju, M S Sriram, Shailendra Kumar & Dinesh Awasthi participated in the symposium. On the funny side, whole symposium gave a false impression of IRMA alumni union ! Issues like Health, ICT, Policy, Rural Marketing, Rural Development, Human Resource Management, Natural resource management etc were discussed in great details by thematic experts.

I observed that three developing trends must be watched by rural manager - Rapid urbanization, Greater income stratification and Consumer Market Growth. There is increasing level of urbanization from 27.81 % in 2001 Census to 31.16 % in 2011 Census. Rural business has emerged as a big employer for rural managers, but there has been a shift towards looking at rural people as consumers. Consumption in rural India growing faster than urban areas. National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data shows that during 2004-05 to 2009-10 rural construction jobs rose by 88 percent, while the number of people employed in agriculture fell from 249 million to 229 million.

Most of the student have motive to join - to study ‘management’ rather than ‘rural management’. That is the fact of the whole education. Rural Manager have neither many peers/seniors to correct him/her, nor one to look up to for guidance. His/her actions can make or break many livelihood of many if not lives. While students working at NGO think - Low Pay Scales & Can't fundraise; Yaar paisa bhi nahi, learning bhi nahi. It becomes easy to frustrate working in a non-professional environment where only requirements – report writing, proposal writing & ayah-duty for funding agency visits. Hence, the sector is plagued by high attrition and lack of long term commitment from professionals. But the first decade of career as rural manager has assured employment at low pay scale while second decade will bring recognition and reputation.

Its not sectoral job any more. Managerial roles merge irrespective of sectors and there is need to learn a lot by learning courses on Public Systems Management and Program evaluation, Project planning and implementation, Project Funding, Advocacy, Consulting, Communication, Marketing, Monitoring & Evaluation. One more factor that I found in their talks was lack of knowledge management. There are rural managers (men of action) who are a storehouse of information which they often don’t know how to share with academic and student community. Their valued experiences are lost without documentation and appear only in the conversation with their peers.

There are so many colleges offering courses related to rural management like - IRMA; XIMB ; KSRM ; IIFM,Bhopal; IIRM,Jaipur; XISS,Ranchi; NIRD,Hyderabad; TISS,Mumbai; Amity school of rural management ; Agribusiness Management (IIM-A, IIM-L, VAMNICOM, MANAGE). One of the major contribution of these institutes have been bringing about professionalism in the development sector.
All of the people attending were more or less agree on one thing - Rural Management can't be a molded in design of established framework of business management. There can be no unique approach programme design has to be tailor made suiting to the group needs and flexible. While the sector has been growing, Institute have dilemmas of their own - Institution location, Faculty, Placements, Self Financing, Aspiration of Graduates! Alumni are the best ambassadors of what college is all about. That will be my sole criteria on judging quality of institutes.

The Blind Men and Elephant story holds so true in this field. There are no overall experts here. Everybody is a generalist integrator looking for complete picture and specialization comes much later! The whole symposium left many question that were lingering in the minds of working professionals and academic community. Does RM mean RD? What lies beyond Donor Agencies, livelihoods and MF ? Society values “Rural Managers” (??) or Rural Management degree?? And eternal question - "What is a rural manager ?" was discussed again and again for new interpretations.

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This Blog is meant purely as a personal diary of a rural manager in making. It exists to record information, experiences and opinions about various issues encountered in the line of duty. Any person, institution and organization mentioned here doesn't assume any liability for its contents. This is not a deliberate attempt to defame anyone. And if you have actually read all that is written in the blog and aren't mad at me, then thanks for your time and patience !

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