As India gets urbanized, the focal point of development should shift in urban areas? There is a fallacy in this approach as we tend to assume India's urbanization patterns are similar to that of the Western world where approximately 70-80% live in urban areas. According to reports, Indian urban population in 2050 will be approximately 50%, which means that 50% of the Indian population will still live in rural areas. So, in the coming 3-4 decades Indian rural population will be anywhere between 50-70%. This is also an underestimate actually. As there is a catch in the fact how we define 'urban'. Indian urbanization is also diffused and distributed in the sense that the majority of the urbanization is not taking place in big cities, where patterns of reverse urbanization has been identified. It is happening in Tier-2 cities, Census Tows and so on. So, this is more of a continuum rather than a dichotomous Rural-Urban divide. Moreover, due to decades of work after independence and the technology revolution rural areas are also no more the same. With well-built connecting roads access to facilities, services, markets and administrative headquarters are no more a challenge. Technology penetration is another achievement area. Thus, rural areas are turning out to be better equipped livable places with the best of both worlds, modernization and mother nature especially for the economically poor. Thus, a rural development professional in the coming 3-4 decades will continue to serve the majority of Indian population (50-70%) living in areas of the Rural-Urban continuum. He will both co-create for the community and live in better equipped livable places. This will be a fulfilling life dedicated to Public Service.
THE FIELD OF DEVELOPMENT PRACTICE AND THE PROGRAM OPPORTUNITIES
If we look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we realize that how broad and diverse set of areas a Development Professional has to work on. In this vein, a curriculum catering to Development Professional must give him or her a detailed knowledge about four fields viz., Health Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Management according to the recommendations of International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice.
The participants of IIHMR-U MBA Rural Management program has an advantage in this regard. The pioneering work and experience of the University with regards to blending Health Sciences and Management is indispensable. Moreover the new collaborations with leading technology institutes in the region like MNIT, Jaipur and opening doors for Faculty from leading Social Science institutions like JNU are some favorable steps in this regard. The Board of Studies of the School of Development Studies (SDS) offering the MBA Rural Management program comprises of people drawn from institutes like IRMA, IDS Sussex, XISS, TISS, Reliance Foundation, PRATHAM to name a few. This gives a rich blend of theory and practice. The University also has plans to join the Global Master's of Development Practice Network and collaborate with University of California, Berkeley, IIHS Bangalore and other institutes of repute both nationally and internationally. This will help reach the right blend of all these four domains to cater to the knowledge and skills need of a truly Global Development Practitioner with a Generalist orientation. Practice oriented pedagogy is one of the highlights of the program.
This has and will open a foray of opportunities for alumni and future students. From International Organizations like UN, World Bank, IMF etc., to Government agencies in India like NITI Aayog, Union and State Public Services, JSLPS, BRLF and other countries, International NGOs, Foundations and CSR wings of private companies and the list goes on.
THE SCHOOL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES AND ITS FACULTY
The School of Development Studies (SDS) at IIHMR-U consists of a mix of faculty from domains of social sciences, management and physical sciences. It draws on for the Health Science from it's other schools. A mix of Practitioners from pioneer development organizations like Uramool Trust, Digantaar, International Agencies like UNICEF, UNDP, WHO etc. and Academics from world's and India's top-notch Universities like John Hopkins University (JHU), JNU, IIM Ahmedabad, Central Universities, XISS serve the reigns of it's Faculty.
The School has also partenered with Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF), a Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) funded flagship organization in the domain of Livelihoods and runs a experiential Certificate Program in Rural Livelihoods (CPRL) for Tribal participants spread across 14 locations through out Central India, which is one of its kind in the whole world.
IIHMR University (IIHMR-U), Jaipur started as a sectoral management institute in the area of healthcare management way back in 1984 and was the pioneer in this field in India. It became a full-fledged University in 2014.
Public Health is one of the major work and focus areas at the University right from it's inception. It has collaborations with John Hopkins University (JHU), the world no. 1 in the area of Public Health since beginning. In recognition to the contribution to Public Health especially of rural communities the University is considered an 'Institute of Excellence' by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and is also a WHO Collaborating Institute. Since majority of Indian people approximately 70-90% lived in rural areas during previous decades of it's work, the University has extensively worked in rural areas and with rural people and has gathered rich experience and insights with regards to working with community, rural people and households. In that vein, MBA Rural Management Program was conceived and launched in the year 2010.
Placements at Universities are not entitlements. However, given the structure of the program benchmarked with top Universities in the world like UC Berkeley, Harvard University etc. and of India like IRMA, TISS, XIMB, XISS, TERI University etc. the institute alumni have been able to fare quite well as Practitioners in the Development Sector. The incoming student's profile has been mostly freshers. The starting salaries have ranged from 3-5 Lac rupees. The key highlight being working 4-5 years in the sector has given a significant jump in salaries by 3-4 times that of the starting package. This has been a significant achievement. Though salaries are not the most significant indicator of outcome in the Development Sector, social impact and value being one. Employer feedback regarding impact and value of our alumni is highly encuoraging. The program is still in its infancy and the golden days are yet to come.