On the sixteenth of August, VOICE 4 Girls hosted its first Facebook Live session, with our Executive Director, Anusha Bharadwaj talking about Rural Management as a career in India. We had opened out the session for questions from the community pertaining to the topic. We had a great time hosting the event and addressing all the questions that came in.
Here are some excerpts from Anusha’s live chat…
Some Insight into Rural Management
“India as a country faces an odd situation today. 70% of India’s population is still living in rural areas. However, most of the top B-schools cater to the corporate sector and jobs therein. India produces a few thousands of managers each year. There is a key need for recognizing rural India as a sector for furthering business, development and Indian economy in general. There was a study that said that rural India and rural Indians as consumers are adding a whopping 69 billion dollars to the Indian economy. So not just in terms of production but also in terms of consumption, the market is shifting.The last decade has seen so much progress in terms of rural innovation, rural enterprises, microfinance and rural businesses. The development sector is also shifting from being charity-based to a more rights-based approach. So there is a lot of potential in rural management. Not just in terms of taking India up a step, but also in terms of a career, rural management is a very lucrative avenue for youngsters today.
Rural management is quite different from social work which deals more with understanding communities and building community-based solutions.With social work, there is more focus on researching and setting qualitative indicators to problems within communities. But once that is done, to take it to scale, you need a business model and that’s where rural management helps you understand what goes into planning, designing a development product or a business product for rural markets. Also, it helps understand resource allocation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation on a large scale. So basically rural management is management principals applied to the rural sector; it is about managing businesses with rural areas or within rural communities.While all the various aspects of a regular MBA like marketing, human resources, sales etc are covered, what makes this course exciting is the field work that it entails where students get a deep understanding of the complex social, political, economical and cultural dynamics of rural communities. There is no better way to gain insight into the the rural areas than to actually live and work there. In addition, a rural management course would include some organizational work where students are placed with rural cooperatives, corporations, and NGOs. So without a doubt, a management degree in the rural sector will give you an edge in the development sector.”
Courses and Careers
“The Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) was among the pioneers in establishing an integrated course on Rural Management. Today, newer colleges are offering rural management courses like the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneshwar, and even mainstream colleges like Indian Institute of Management. For those looking to specialise in the agriculture sector, there are some agri-business schools and cooperatives that have management courses specifically suited to that sector.
In terms of career prospects, a degree in Rural Management can land you a job as a project manager or team leader. Or you could be managing rural businesses; there are rural banks and cooperatives that are employing managers. With the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Bill being implemented, the development sector has grown so much and there’s so much more demand for rural managers. So there is a wide range of roles from that of a manager to that of a director. With a degree in rural management, you could start at a management position; it will actually give you an edge. A popular myth among the youth is that careers in the development sector are ‘not lucrative’. Far from the truth, placements in the rural sector are on the rise, with salaries matching those in the corporate sector. So in terms of work it is a really good option.”
Testing the Waters
“If you are thinking about a course in rural management and want to test the waters, taking up an internship in the sector would be a great idea. Whether you are looking to explore the other side of India, out of curiosity or the passion to make a difference, internships give you an idea of what you can expect in the future. In fact, VOICE has an internship opening up where we have thousands of undergraduate and graduate students being trained by us and then sent into government and low-cost private schools to teach adolescent girls. So it is a true insight into education in the rural sector, the problems and social issues faced by adolescent girls in these areas while acquiring skills to deliver content and a curriculum to these young girls. It is a life-changing experience for the intern as well as the girls she teaches. This is just one of the many opportunities available today in terms of internships in the rural sector. There are so many organisations today that are opening up their doors to youngsters who are willing to learn and have the passion and the grit to do it. Interns who have worked with us have gone on to do international development, rural management, and social work. So it’s a great place to start!”
Anusha Bharadwaj has been working in the development sector since 2002. She has a degree in rural management from Institute of Rural Management, Anand.