NEW DELHI: It is not clear whether this signifies growing unemployment among professionals in the country or an inherent urge among the youth to become ‘foot soldiers of development’ in Naxal-affected areas.
Whatever may be the reason, the fact is that Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship (PMRDF) has received ‘very good’ response from the professionals with the Rural Development Ministry receiving 8,100-odd applications from professionals expressing their willingness to work in 156 posts in the Naxal-affected districts.
The response from the professionals had been encouraging forcing the ministry to extend its deadline.
“We never expected this kind of response. We had planned to announce the list of shortlisted candidates by December, but could not meet the deadline due to the larger turn out,” said an official with the ministry.
The applicant should be in the age group of 21 to 30 with a PG in social science/ science/ management or a graduate in law/ engineering/ medicine.
And the desirable qualities were knowledge of Hindi and a local language used in an Integrated Action Plan (IAP) district is desirable.
According to the official, majority of the applicants were with social sciences background and a good number from the management side too. “There are a good number of engineers and doctors too. This shows the level of commitment among our youth,” said the official. The selected candidates will be posted in the 60 districts of the country identified by the Home Ministry as ‘Left Wing Extremism’ districts. The PM’s ‘Rural Development Fellows’ will be deployed in each of the districts to assist the district collector and his team.
The major responsibilities of the ‘PM’s Fellows’ would be to conduct socio-economic and political situation analysis of the district and the needs of the people, promote micro-planning at ward and panchayat levels in the district, conduct data crunching relating to budget outlays and utilisation of funds and also identify critical gaps in development programmes.
The selected candidates will be eligible to get `75,000 per month during the first year and a 10 per cent increment during the second and third year. “The fact that pay packet is very attractive could also be one of the reasons for getting these many candidates,” admitted the official. He said that the selected candidates will have to undergo a three-month intensive training course, including a 4 week internship in the preferred district.
Apart from the normal application procedure, the applicants also have to submit a 1,000-word write up on the fellowship scheme. “This write up would be the primary tool to assess the candidate and the genuine interest of the applicant to become a ‘foot soldier’ will be assessed during the final round of personal interview,” said the official.