Tuesday, September 3, 2013

100 Days @ Balangir

I joined OLM office as YP at Balangir on 27th May 2013. I completed 100 working days today. Let me redirect reader to details of the place where I am working : Balangir District. Balangir/Bolanagir lies in KBK (Koraput Blangir Kalahandi) region and is considered as one of the country's 250 most backward districts. KBK itself has attracted the attention of policy makers, development planners and the poverty critics due to its persistent underdevelopment from last few decades. As per my observation, this place is working with slow/numb administrative activity supported by overt political agitation.

There is no resource block under OLM (Odisha Livelihood Mission) strategy for this financial year 2013-2014 in Balangir. Hence, I have to solely work with ORMAS (Orissa Rural Development and Marketing Society). Motto of ORMAS is simple- Creating competence and values in rural Orissa. ORMAS was constituted to facilitate for a sustainable livelihood of the rural poor by working with SHG clusters. It is very common that government schemes concentrated on the input supply than outputs marketing ; They always look credit, production and market aspect as separate entities. The intervention strategy of ORMAS has been on capacity building, initiation of Micro Enterprises, micro credit linkage and facilitating sales through different channels. Currently, I have been monitoring and learning through interactions about these clusters. I term them as “islands of goodness” amid terrain of poverty.

Understanding of how public systems work at district and state levels is my first priority. I don't want to get caught up in the details of one grand scheme, losing sight of the whole picture. I have been attending few district level meeting and also trying to know at-least the name of various schemes of central and state government. That itself is a huge task.

While it is considered that the most unproductive activity in an IT company (other than negotiating a higher salary with HR) is making powerpoint presentations! No such work is given to me here. I am also not used as a data operator. That is good. I cherish my mentor for this. I do not expect full-time attention of busy mentor but surely office staff help me with various government formalities when required. I try to utilize time by reading reports and news in office. I also count plenty of time wasted/enjoyed in facebook also.

Development of a region or person is a slow process. I have been given full freedom to learn maximum from field visits. Traveling to field never appear hectic to me and a few relaxed days are always there in the office. The words of Marcel Proust, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."  are sounding more true than ever. Each day at field gives me new insight about this place. It becomes very inspirational to see few individuals who are successfully fighting the battle for better future. Yet, scenes of extreme poverty and illiteracy breaks the heart.

I am an early adapter but still found it tough to adjust to the climate and culture of this place. I have started to understand Odiya but speaking this language is still not my cup of tea. Sometimes frustration and lethargy creeps in the work schedule but it takes time and resources to build a knowledge base. As they always say, Rome wasn't built in a day !


  1. Do post something on your field visits...my field visits during RLLE were really interesting....and im sure u must be having some good cases to share :)

    1. Thanks Sabya for posting here. RLLE gives much freedom to explore rather than working in government office. The field visits are mostly guided tours with other government officials. I don't have much data to post on the field visit currently now. One case study is work in progress and I will surely put much in coming days. Thanks for the words !



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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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