Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India. Their mission is conceptualised as a movement to enable processes that connect institutes of higher education with local communities to address the development challenges of rural India through participatory processes and appropriate technologies for accelerating sustainable growth. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system by providing knowledge and practices for emerging professions and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and the private sectors.
"If we have to build a nation, we should start from the villages."
– Sri Narendra Modi Honorable Prime Minister of India
"Institutes of higher learning must be connected to villages"
- Sri Prakash Javadekar Minister for Human Resource Development, Government of India.
1. Vision:Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.
2. Mission: The Mission of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is to enable higher educational institutions to work with the people of rural India in identifying development challenges and evolving appropriate solutions for accelerating sustainable growth. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between society and an inclusive academic system by providing knowledge and practices for emerging professions and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and the private sectors in responding to the development needs of rural India.
India in the twenty first century is an interesting mosaic of new and old challenges and opportunities. Huge development disconnects such as inequity in health, education, incomes, co-exist with a society getting connected through communication technologies prompting an increasingly vocal democracy to demand greater public services and assets, opportunities for growth and access to resources.
70 % of the population in India lives in rural areas, engaged in agrarian economy with agriculture and allied sectors employing 51% of the total workforce but accounting for only 17% of the GDP. Without rural development, India cannot optimally realise its growth potential and claim its place in the world.
In today’s Knowledge Economy, it is not enough to mobilise financial resources. Professional and technical know-how, evolved through innovative experimentation and adapted to the social context is equally important. The implication is that rural development needs to be informed by a formal professional knowledge framework encompassing engineering, planning, management and applied social sciences as a holistic design approach. At the same time such professional inputs need to be sensitive to the local context and community. The critical design parameters for rural development can be seen as a triadic unity of people’s participation, inter-disciplinary professionalism and convergence of resources. Moreover, the outcomes need to be measured not just in terms of quantitative gains, but by social equity, technical soundness, economic efficiency, and sustainability.
4. Current Policy Context
Honourable Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech etched the contours of his development vision for the country highlighting the need to channelise the talent of the youth and ensuring a better developed rural India. Honourable PM also urged all MPs to develop a model village in their constituencies by 2016. One village for a constituency should be developed as a model. Two more can be developed by 2019. If each MP decides to develop three villages over five years, many villages in the country would see progress and serve as examples. Accordingly, the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna was launched on 11 October 2014. Honourable PM also in the conference with Directors and Chairpersons of IITs on August 22nd, 2014, exhorted them to adopt a village and develop appropriate technologies. Each student should have such a project, individually or collectively to be pursued over 4 years of the educational course so as to contribute to society a substantial product/service, upon his/her graduation.
5. Goals:Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (UBA) aims at transformational change with the following Goals:
To build an understanding of the development agenda within institutes of Higher Education and an institutional capacity and training relevant to national needs, specially those of rural India.
To re-emphasize the need for field work, stake-holder interactions and design for societal objectives as the basis of higher education. To stress on rigorous reporting and useful outputs as central to developing new professions.
Provide rural India and regional agencies with access to the professional resources of the institutes of higher education, specially those that have acquired academic excellence in the field of science, engineering and technology, and management.
To improve development outcomes as a consequence of this research. To develop new professions and new processes to sustain and absorb the outcomes of research.
To foster a new dialogue within the larger community on science, society and the environment and to develop a sense of dignity and collective destiny.
6. Objective: The Objectives of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan are broadly two-fold.
Build institutional capacity in institutes of Higher Education in research and training relevant to national needs, specially those of rural India, which includes inter alia the following objectives:
Encourage Indian higher education Institutions to engage with problems of rural India and to provide solutions for them.
Develop an academic framework for working on societal problems, their solution, delivery, reporting and assessment.
Re-visit where necessary the curriculum in technical education in educational and research institutions to incorporate inclusive technologies for rural India.
Promote inter-disciplinary approach in higher education guided by live contexts.
Develop over time, research areas which have developmental significance, such as drinking water, education, health, agricultural practices, electrification, agricultural and rural industries cooking energy, watershed analysis.
Develop collaborations of academic institutions with key government flagship programs and develop formal course-ware for supporting the knowledge needs for the same.
Promote networking and coordination among various science and technology based voluntary organizations and developmental agencies.
Foster collaborations between governance, knowledge institutions and local communities.
Provide rural India with professional resource support from institutes of higher education, specially those that have acquired academic excellence in the field of science, engineering and technology, and management.
To identify the basic developmental and productive needs of a village and find ways and means to meet these needs.
Strengthen the technical design of interventions in key sectoral areas of natural resource management such as water and soil, economic activities such as agriculture and related production, or related to crafts and artisans, infrastructure such as housing, roads, energy.
Identify efficient, cost effective and sustainable development practices in the field.
Help grassroots organizations in innovating new products, and support rural entrepreneurs to develop neighborhood solutions.
Empower communities to dialogue with knowledge institutions in order to evolve technically sound and locally feasible development strategies that promote self-reliance.
Facilitate convergence of development schemes, resources, various planning and implementation initiatives, and coordination of agencies for successful interventions and measurable outcomes.
The primary strategy will be to incrementally build a knowledge backbone for India which will serve the above vision of rural India as a collection of thriving communities and will be responsive to their needs. This will require (i) a methodology of community engagement through regional and local institutions, (ii) development of a disciplinary rigour and interdisciplinary research which is accessible to regional institutions and yet scientifically sound, (iii) a systematic framework rooted at apex institutions for implementing the above agenda.
A multi- pronged strategy is envisaged for Unnat Bharat
At the Institutional level: Older IITs have rural technology action groups (RUTAG). They also have centres for rural development and research in technologies relevant to rural development, such as CTARA and the Design Centre (IITB), Centres for Rural Development (IIT KGP) and IITD, Centre for Sustainable Development, (IITM). Besides Centres and Departments dedicated to rural technologies, several other programs/projects of the institute also engage with rural issues. This can provide the academic institutional resource base for implementing Unnat Bharat along the following lines.
The UBA will be implemented in a phased manner. A start can be made by identifying a set of IITS/ NITs / IISc/IISERs/Central Universities and other professional and academic institutes that have existing capacity, resources and experience of working in rural areas. Initially, 50 top institutions will be identified and then more can enlist as the strategy is successfully piloted.
A tier of engineering institutions with proven capabilities spread across regionally could be identified for collaboration with the network of IITs etc. for closer interaction with the field and for enlarging the scope of participation and building capacity in the institutions.
Similarly, Ministries that complement each others input into Unnat Bharat will be identified. To begin with, these could include the Ministries of Human Resource Development, Agriculture, Rural Development, Water Resources, Science and Technology, Renewable Energy, MSME and Textiles( for artisans ), Labour and Employment.
Ongoing initiatives in the identified institute/ Ministry relevant to rural development will be listed and coordinated under one umbrella viz. Unnat Bharat.
To facilitate an effectively coordinated functioning of Unnat Bharat within the institute, an Unnat Bharat Cell may be set up in each institute/ Ministry with academic and research programs suitable for the conduct of the Abhiyan objectives. At the institutional level, the Unnat Bharat Cell will be led by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members. Apex institutions may co-opt experts from social science institutions or develop joint programs. The architecture of the Unnat Bharat Cell, the conduct of its academic and research program is left to participating institutions.
A network of identified IITs/IISERs/CUs/NITs/IISc coordinated by the MHRD will be set up. The Unnat Bharat cells will in effect get linked and form the institutional structural network for planning , implementing and monitoring the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
Each Institute will draw up a work plan and identify areas/villages for initiating the UBA. This will be based on ongoing initiatives, as well as villages selected to be developed as Adarsh Grams. The institute plans will be like Revolving Plans starting with an Activity Plan that can be taken up immediately, based on on-going activities in the Institute. More elaborate, detailed plans, i.e. Perspective Plans should be drawn up after the initial field engagement starts.
Each institute will also make an effort to identify organizations working in different geographical locations at the grassroots level focusing on cost effective technological interventions on location specific problems to enlist their participation in the Abhiyan.
Based on area/village identification, the Unnat Bharat Cells in the Institutes will develop strategies for problem and resource mapping and developing a holistic development plan with clear inputs and measurable outcomes and time lines. The emphasis should be on working issues back from the field, including problem-definition and then evolving appropriate technologies converging for rural development. A suggestive list, for example could include:
Natural resource management: water and watersheds, soil, bio-diversity.
Economic Productivity through appropriate technologies for sustainable agriculture and agro-processing; natural and organic farming, animal husbandry, watershed management, low cost bio-fertilizers production, natural and organic cultivation, processing of medicinal and aromatic plants, horticulture/agro-forestry.
Entrepreneurship and Skill development including establishing multipurpose service-cum-training centers in rural areas and encouraging value chain processes from research to productisation, establishment of Rural Technology Park. Skilling can also be a significant engagement.
Frugal technology for rural livelihood and employment: artisanal technology and rural industries.
Rural electronics and IT: e-governance/ICT enabling grass-root initiatives including development of village information network. Computerized support system and database for use by local communities in effective planning and access to technology in the areas of health, sanitation, sustainable agriculture, education, watershed management, etc.
Social and institutional infrastructure development such as Health, Education, Public Transport, PDS.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan can be a major platform for converging technologies across sectors.
Each IIT/educational institute will develop its proposal and a range of innovative projects in identified villages, covering wide range of sectors focusing on technology development/modulation, transfer and adoption of appropriate technologies at field level using local resources and material. It will initiate, if needed, research collaboration with state and regional institutions so that a broader understanding of these problem areas is obtained. The proposals will be shared with the Unnat Bharat Cell at the Ministry level and be placed on the IIT Council Website(till a separate Unnat Bharat web-site is put up)
The implementation process will ground the project as an action research project with a robust inter-disciplinary approach, incorporating demonstration and training and focusing on development outcomes
A comprehensive web-site will be developed for Unnat Bharat Abhiyan for knowledge sharing and communication by IIT Delhi. In the interim phase, IIT Council website can open a window for Unnat Bharat.
Regular reports on the progress made on agreed upon templates will be shared. These will be posted on the website.
Rigorous transparent evaluation will be undertaken and good practices be documented.
Based on the experience and evidence based research curricular, pedagogical innovations will be attempted that allows students/faculty to take projects with local content and a focus on R&D for regional needs.
Such initiatives will be popularized through well-designed communication strategies to widen participation and make it a true Abhiyan.
8. Expected Outcomes
Projects that will be implemented on the ground by Academic Institutions that demonstrate the feasibility of UBA to
Orient technical education Institutes to work for rural development and develop capacity to work directly with stake-holders and to extract social parameters for engineering systems
Promote apex institutions to become an important knowledge resource for various state and national agencies while designing programs and projects
Develop appropriate technologies that impact rural areas
Promote convergence of technical, social and Governmental resources for development goals
Costs will be met from ongoing projects and by converging available resources, to begin with. Efforts will be made, on project basis to mobilise additional funds.
10. Operational Steps:
IIT Delhi will be the coordinating Institute. A Pilot start will be made by the IITs and some selected institutions.
Each institution may set up its Unnat Bharat Cell (UBC), i.e., an inter-disciplinary team of faculty members and supporting researchers and staff members. The UBC will be an empowered body and supported by the Institution in meeting the objectives and goals of the program. It will be responsible for the conduct of the program in its entirety, i.e., its field and community, research and academic components.
Each IIT should, through the UB Cell, identify the (i) village/s/ Gram Panchayat where it wants to work. This can include areas where work may already be going on as well as new ones. Effort may also be made to converge with the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana wherein each MP is to adopt a GP in his/her constituency as a model of Development.
An initial Activity Plan should be prepared by each IIT.
A more detailed (Perspective Plan) should be drawn up by each IIT subsequently. It should clearly address the Goals and Objectives as stated above.
An Unnat Bharat website will be developed.
The Adarsh Gram Guidelines of the Ministry of Rural Development and other programs of the state or of Govt. of India may be used to design the institute's work plan.