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Values based Education through Rural Immersion

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Values based Education through Rural Immersion

IIMU’s rural immersion course, which has been part of our flagship PGP program since inception, reflects our commitment to create responsible leaders by providing values-based education and to make a meaningful contribution to the region. We believe that it is essential for future managers or entrepreneurs to have a good understanding of the social and political background of the country. To pursue this, rural Immersion starts with a course on the Indian Social and Political Environment and continues with the class dividing into five-person teams which spend a week in a village where they work closely with NGOs to appreciate on-the- ground realities and challenges faced by those at the bottom of the pyramid.

IIM Udaipur is strategically located in the southern part of Rajasthan which is surrounded by tribal villages. This region performs extremely poorly on the human development index, with 85% tribal population in the belt. The rural immersion program allows students to develop sensitivity to rural issues through direct experiential learning.

Students are connected with the local NGO partners working in the areas of livelihood, health, and education. These grassroots organizations work as liaison and host for the students. Students have pre-defined assignments designed for them which they execute in groups. One important part of these assignments is to develop an understanding of the socio-economic status and resources of a village through participatory rural appraisal methods. Students conduct door to door surveys, focus group discussions and informal discussions. Their classroom lessons on Indian Social and Political Environment provide them with the necessary background to prepare their assignments.

Some of the assignments that IIMU students have previously undertaken are assessing the opportunity gap that exists for village youth; understanding financial and digital inclusion in rural India; and assessing the daily workload of rural women and analyzing how it affects their health. Students’ findings on malnutrition and open defecation in the villages have been covered in the local media and presented to the local administration and government officials which helped them plan state interventions.

A report on ‘Lack of bathing spaces for women in rural areas’ was a joint result of IIMU students’ immersion and VikasAnvesh Foundation. The Foundation had a methodology in place which enabled the students to contribute through fieldwork and their ground-level observations. This report was later published by the Foundation.

In an agrarian and rapidly urbanizing country, the experience of rural immersion is eye-opening for management students. In the future, IIMU graduates would be better equipped to craft policies or come up with new programs or strategies at the rural level.

An underlying priority for IIMU is to instill in our students a sense of commitment as managers to have a socially responsible impact, to give them an understanding of how difficult and challenging this often can be, and to provide the practical knowledge and tools to enable them to accomplish this aim. This program teaches students humility and fosters the idea of giving back to society.

Testimonials from students

As part of the Rural Immersion Programme, I visited 'Kiyawato ka Fala', a village in Rajasthan, about 50 km from Udaipur. Working with an NGO, we did field surveys and interviews to understand the issues of the villages. We discovered the gaps, both digital and financial between the rural and urban parts of India.
It was an enlightening experience for me, to see the struggles of the local people to survive. It made me realize the need to give back to society when we are self-sufficient. I encountered a family of five siblings, all under 16 years of age, who were abandoned by their parents more than five months ago. One of them was suffering from acute Tuberculosis. This was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I managed to help the family and move them to a children's hostel where they were taken care of. The experiences during the Rural Immersion Programme humbled me and made me realize the privileges we take for granted.

Ashish Aggarwal
PGP Student 2017-19

Our group of 5 people visited Budhiya village on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border which is about 240km from Udaipur as part of our rural immersion program. The aim of the program was to get the first-hand experience of the culture and social structure of this village. 97% of the population comprised of tribals and their way of life was completely different. We gathered information about mobile usage among the people and the penetration of Jan DhanYojna among the villagers. We also identified problems like betting, liquor drinking which impeded social acceptance of the men. We also experienced that age-old practices of polygamy were still prevalent amongst the tribals. The program was a step towards understanding the socio- economic culture of the rural land that India is made of.

Sayali Chikhale
PGP Student 2017-19