Balancing challenges and prospects in rural sector

Career on demand Rural managerial roles help reduce economic and social stress on rural sectors.

According to Census 2011, nearly 69% of India’s population lives in rural areas, but agrarian income sustains about 50% of its citizens. Nevertheless, other sectors such as construction and low-end manufacturing are replacing traditional livelihoods in rural India according to a recent paper by the NITI Aayog titled Changing Structure of Rural Economy of India: Implications for Employment and Growth. Due to this changing pattern of economic dependence, lifestyle and consumption habits in rural India are set to undergo transformations in near future, which will open new challenges to those engaged in rural management.

Rural managers typically engage with developmental organisations, both public and voluntary, to hit the ground running in a variety of situations. They possess knowledge and expertise in rural-urban linkages and interdependence, livelihoods, skills and entrepreneurship, water, sanitation and nutrition management issues, women and child-centred development models and the capacity to run a successful agri-business incorporating appropriate value chains. After graduating with a rural management MBA, one can work in primary healthcare delivery, rural marketing, natural resource management and developmental studies for decision-making.

Credentials

The job of the rural manager is to unlock the potential of local economies. No longer are India’s villages limited to Gandhian self-contained units. Information and communication technologies based on the ubiquitous mobile continue to change aspirations and attitudes.

Though this strain is not a uniform trend, it holds true for significant proportions of younger segments of the rural population. Before now, rural management was centred around cooperatives, agri-businesses and allied fields. Various developmental organisations, both private and government, national and international are part of schemes and policy implementations in rural areas. Funding and organisation of educational, infrastructural and community resources for villages and tier-four towns and localities are other areas of responsibility that rural managers handle as a part of voluntary agencies or non-governmental organisations.

With greater scrutiny of sources of funding, legal services and business regulation, experts are also in demand within this sector. It requires one to have an extrovert nature with limited resources at disposal, and a sense of adventure to succeed as a rural manager. The rural manager should also be able to handle pressure and should have proven leadership skills.

Academics

Both degree and diploma programmes in rural management are available at various institutes across India and have a wide scope too. As with any management entrance exam, there is a standardised aptitude test followed by a group discussion and an interview before one can get admission into a Rural Management programme. 

International agencies of repute such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization may also directly employ MBA degree holders in rural management. Public policy planners require inputs from such graduates regularly to coordinate and gather data related to practical execution.

(The author is president, IIHMR University, Jaipur) 

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Balancing challenges and prospects in rural sector

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