Community Development

August 25, 2009

Metamorphosis of a material- Adding colour to social policy

I don’t exactly remember in which year we introduced the Social Policy, Planning and Development paper, but able to recollect what triggered me to take initiative to include it as a separate paper. A feedback given by a student that she felt handicapped to perform better in her UGC JRF exam because of insufficient exposure to policy related concepts. Sensitive enough to appreciate her comment, I took initiative to prepare the syllabus without having any expertise in the subject matter.

When I referred the social work syllabi of various universities I found only in two places i.e.in TISS and DSW, social policy was included as a separate paper at that time. I prepared a concoction out of these two and the syllabus was passed in the university without questions, because it was our Director Dr.Raja then the syndicate member in MKU presented it in the academic council.

When commenting on the present education, I read somewhere that syllabus is prepared by those who do not know how to teach and taught by those who do not understand the spirit of the syllabus. It is true as far as myself is concerned.

Since I initiated, I took the responsibility to handle it. My attempt to understand the subject from the faculty of Public Administration in MK University was frustrating. I don’t want to go into the sickening politics prevailed in the department of PA some 2 decades before.

It was Dr.Narayana Raja, our present principal, who then doing his M.Phil in TISS helped me to get xerox copies of some literature and it was he informed me that TISS deputed its faculty for a six months programme on social policy in UK before introducing that paper. That is the reason TISS excel at national & international level.

With humility and curiosity, I started teaching the subject. I don’t know whether I did a justice to the subject and to my students, but the subject matter of social policy widened my horizons of thinking and understanding. Studying policy as an academic subject definitely sharpens one’s intelligence.

In order to make the subject understandable to the students I prepared transparencies and notes. Though I am not handling the subject at present for the past several years, the material prepared by me is used by the students in various colleges. The material got metamorphosed from handwritten copy to cyclostyled copies and fortunately I retained some though I missed a lot.

Sp5

Social policy has given me a lot – widened my horizons of thinking; it helped me to better appreciate and understand the PIP (Policy, Institutions and Processes) in livelihood concept, myself in turn have not contributed anything to enrich the subject matter of social policy. So, I thought of adding colour to the material that I have collected some two decades before and that is metamorphosed into An Introduction to Social Policy – A Primer.

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August 20, 2009

Bret Wallach –He who said it in clear words -வெள்ளையாய் சொல்லிவிட்டார்

எழுத வழங்காத வாழ்வு கழுதை புரண்ட களம்

It was Mrs. Hema, an alumni, now teaching social work in Mannar Thirumalai Naicker College, asked me whether I have updated material to use for Rural Community Development paper. She had some material prepared by me in the 80s. It was about history of Rural Reconstruction Movements in India. The original handwritten copies even now used and circulated. History never gets old. Is it not?

The original notes got metamorphosed into several forms. From handwriting to cyclostyling to dot-matrix print. The metamorphosis stopped there because of the shift in course allotment –I opted for Regional Planning & Development.

At present, community development students and faculty are preoccupied with current issues in development – SHGs, PRA, Project Planning. .. I myself felt that sound knowledge base cannot be built if we ignore the historical past.

When the specialization was introduced, I took one or two batch of students to Marthandam as a pilgrimage, from where Spencer Hatch and his wife initiated their Light House project. We even meditated at the round shed from where Hatch conducted several training programmes. I don’t know whether YMCA is keeping that structure intact or not. I had a special regard for Hatch because it was he who used poor and poverty in his writings when other pioneers were talking about improving the standards of living and cultural rejuvenation.

How can we forget the contributions of Tagore, Brayne, Maharaja of Baroda, Albert Meyer and SK Dey and other noble souls. No doubt over the years, community development workers have sharpened their intelligence and efforts and contributed their might to “Uplift” the rural community. But the pioneers were our deities and energizers. Remembering them and acknowledging them is the real tribute that we can pay for them.

However we modernize and update the syllabus, it is impossible to take away the history of community development. So I decided to update the material on Rural Community Development, by incorporating images of the pioneers.I searched the net. Accidently I found an article “The history behind ‘Gurgaon Experiment’ in a blogspot (Shubham Basu).When I further digged it, I came to know that it was a chapter in a book “Losing Asia: Modernization and the Culture of Development” written by an American Geography Professor by name Bret Wallach. I strongly recommend that students of rural development should not miss this and I am planning to translate it in Tamil for the benefit of Tamil students.

clip_image002[4]When writing about Frank Brayne, Wallach observed that he generated more attention and publicity for his district than any other district administrator in the history of British India. Brayne declared, “I have got1200 villages, and I have visited all of them. I suppose I have been into every village once and many villages several times; I spend the whole of the cold weather and a good deal of the hot weather in the villages themselves, so that I have a very close acquaintance with the actual cultivators”. Brayne built a Town Hall in memory of his son, but told the Royal Commission on Agriculture that "a magnificent hall is being erected at Gurgaon by public subscription as the centre of all our many activities," but he had made no mention of his son. Bret concluded that the northern half of Gurgaon District today is generations ahead of anything Brayne imagined. In a way, it’s ahead of rural Ashill, where Brayne lies buried. The southern half of the district isn’t that different from the Gurgaon he knew. Bret is objective in his observation. Bret vividly narrates the other experiments as if we are reading a novel

Bret has brought great personalities Chester Bowles, Paul Hoffman, V. T. Krishnamachari, Jawaharlal Nehru, Albert Mayer, Arthur Mosher, Sachindra Kumar Dey (S.K.Dey) and places Etawah, Baroda, Nilokheri, Marthandam in such a way urging us to have a darshan of these people and go for a pilgrimage to those places. I felt heavy when I read the concluding remarks, “the block system remaiLosing Asianed, but it was nothing more than an input-delivery system”.

I hope that I would catch the spirit of the past in Bret Wallach words in Tamil.

Bret Wallach – Losing Asia: Modernization and the Culture of Development.

Read Introduction to Rural Community Development in Scribd & wePapers

March 8, 2009

Understanding Community Organization

பார்த்தவுடன் பிடிக்காது; பார்க்கப் பார்க்கப் பிடிக்கும் – அதுபோல படித்தவுடன் பிடிக்காது; படிக்கப், படிக்கப் பிடிக்கும்.

Social Work students are familiar with phases studied in various methods – Case work (intake, study, diagnosis, treatment, follow up, termination), Group work (planning phase, beginning phase, middle phase, ending phase). Phases or steps again repeated in welfare administration, social policy, project planning. Phases are integral part in acquisition of knowledge or carrying out action. Phases are rational – that aid in making rational decisions. It is inappropriate to use the terminology of diagnosis and treatment in community organization, instead we use analysis and decision making / deciding to act. But both the processes are similar. If the students understand these underlying similarities, it will be easy for them to internalize it.

In case work and group work the phases can be described neatly. As a method moves from individualstic to collectivistic, one cannot confine the phases in a standard phraseology. In community organization and social policy, description of phases is complex and differs from author to author, reflecting the complex and diversified nature of the subject matter.

For example in community organization study is used alternatively as fact finding, problem identification, need assessment, asset mapping, social analysis, opportunity assessment etc. Each alternative has its own value orientation and methodological specification. Fact finding and problem identification may look similar, but the usage of problem identification is neutral or academic in nature when compared with fact finding. But the usage of these different terminologies is not to confuse the learners but to catch the reality – complex, diversified and risk prone nature of the community life.

Besides these, there is multitude of methodologies available to use in every phase. The conventional survey, different tools in PRA/ PLA, PPGIS, mapping of different types are some of the methods used by the community organizers to explore the communities.

Community Organization: Phases and Methods (46 pages pdf) See it in the Resources for Students
“India lives in Villages” இந்தியா கிராமங்களில் வாழ்கிறது என்பது ஒற்றைப் பரிமாண வார்த்தை. இது மாதிரியான வார்த்தைகள் நம்மிடையே ஏராளம். உதாரணத்திற்கு “Society is a web of social relationships”. இந்த ஒற்றைப் பரிமாண வார்த்தைகள், புரிவது மாதிரி இருக்கும், ஆனால் அதன் பல பரிமாணங்களை கற்பனை செய்துதான் புரிந்து கொள்ளவேண்டியிருக்கும்.
இந்தியா கிராமங்களில் வாழ்கிறது – அது விவசாயமாக, கைத் தொழிலாக, தொன்மையான சடங்குகளாக, நாட்டு வைத்தியமாக, சிறு தெய்வங்களாக, நாட்டார் கலைகளாக, விருந்தோம்பலாக, ஆசாபாசங்கள் நிறைந்த அன்பாக, சிற்றோடைகளாக, துள்ளித் திரியும் கன்றுகளாக, நாவற்பழங்களாக, குப்பைமேனிச் செடிகளாக, ஒற்றியடிப் பாதைகளாக வாழ்கிறது. (நன்றி: நாஞ்சில் நாடன்)ஒற்றைப் பரிமாண வார்த்தைகளின் மீது தியானம் செய்தால் தான் அதன் முழு அர்த்தத்தையும் உள்வாங்கமுடியும். துரதிர்ஷ்டவசமாக, சமூகப் பணியில் இம் மாதிரியான வார்த்தைகள் ஏராளம்.
Community Organization கூட ஒற்றைப் பரிமாண வார்த்தைப் பாடம்தான். படிக்காதவன் படத்தில் தனுஷ் பஞ்ச் அடிப்பதுமாதிரி “எங்களப் பார்த்தவுடன் பிடிக்காது, பார்க்கப் பார்க்கத்தான் பிடிக்கும் என்பது மாதிரி ” Community Organization” படித்ததும் புரியாது படிக்கப் படிக்கத்தான் புரியும். கால் கடுக்க நடக்கநடக்க ” Community Organization” புரிய வரும்.
Study என்றாலே மாணவர்கள் Case Work மாதிரி சேரில் சாய்ந்து உட்கார்ந்து கொண்டு செய்கிற வேலை என்று நினைக்கிறார்கள். Community Organization னில் -பேசணும், பார்க்கணும், நடக்கனும் – அப்படிச் செய்தாலும் தெரிந்து கொள்வதற்கு உத்தரவாதம் ஏதுமில்லை. பல நேரங்களில் “Community” எனும் வஸ்து தவணை முறையில்தான் தகவல்களைத் தரும். Study என்ற ஒற்றைப் பரிமாண சொல் ” Community Organization” ல் பல பரிமாணங்கள் எடுக்கும் – Problem Identification, Need Assessment, Asset Mapping, Fact Finding, opportunity assessment – என்று தசாவதாரங்கள் எடுக்கும். Community என்பது நூற்றுக்கணக்கான நபர்களை உள்ளடக்கியதால் கொஞ்சம் Complex ஆனது. ஆகையால் அதைத் தெரிந்து கொள்ள, புரிந்து கொள்ள பல உத்திகளைக் கையாள வேண்டி இருக்கும். பல உத்திகள் என்பது குழப்புவதர்க்கள்ள- குழப்பத்தை சரியாக நிர்வாகிப்பதற்கே. கொஞ்சம் பொறுமையுடன் படியுங்கள்- புரிந்து கொண்டால் “Community Organization” மாதிரி சுவாரசியமான பாடம் ஏதுமில்லை
Community Organization னின் பல்வேறு நிலைகளும் உத்திகளும் ஆங்கிலத்தில் (46 pages pdf) See it in the Resources for Students

January 17, 2009

Sri. Vijay Mahajan

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , , — cdmiss @ 5:12 am

Though I have not seen Sri. Vijay Mahajan (Founder of Pradhan and Basix) personally,  my regard for him is growing day by day for his contribution to build a knowledge and practice base to the field of development. I have met youngsters, graduated from premier institutions, inspired by Sri. V.M. taken up development .

vijayWhen one of my student Mrs. Nirmala who is with ISLP gave me a copy of “Resource Book for Livelihood Promotion” co-authored by Sri. V.M., I was impressed by the content and that made me to translate it in Tamil, so that the message can reach the grass root level workers, who cannot read the original in English. It may take some more time to get it published in Tamil. (Is not Nirmala?)

When I saw the January issue of “Seminar’ Monthly, I opened those exact pages of Sri. V.M’s article “Scaling up Social Innovation”. Mahajan is known for his holistic  and integrative thinking and his article is an expression of his inner self. By going through that five page article, one can understand, how individuals and institutions enriched the efforts of development through their socially innovative ideas. The article  is not only a concise history of innovative development efforts and contains practical steps that can be taken up to speed / scale up social innovation. Mahajan concluded that “social innovation incubated in the voluntary sector must learn to embrace state or market institutions for scaling up, otherwise thousands of bonsai innovations may bloom, but society’s big problems will remain unresolved”.

I was happy that when I read the Resource Book for Livelihood Promotion, I conceived a poster with one of my friend Mr. Rajesh and ISLP faculty used it in their training.

posture-basixs-a3-copy

When I read Mahajan again I thought of converting it into a mind map. I feel that development can be taught better, if we incorporate more and more ICT tools.

vijay-mahajans-scaling-up-social-innovation2

I considered my self as a computer illiterate, learned computer by using it. Those who see the mind map presented here based on Mahajan’s article, find that the map is self explanatory, this post has achieved its mission. If any one who are better skilled in using computer can make the article as an interesting teaching material with animations and hyperlinks. I hope that, I will be fortunate enough to see such a material very soon.

November 23, 2008

Mekkarai

First visit to Mekkarai

It was a pure destiny in the physical form of Mr. M.Ramachandran of Naethra Technology, Chennai that took me to Mekkarai,a beautiful village on Tamilnadu-Kerala border,which opened up new learning opportunities and to initiate development experiments from new perspectives.

A friend known to both of us, told me that a man from Madras, a devotee of Achankoil Iyyappan is interested in rural development in a village near Senkottai on the way to Achankoil and my guidance will be of great help to that man. My previous experience with some of the goodwill based development experiments made me to not to accept his request  immediately. But that friend was persisting me and finally I accepted his request .. not because of the proposed initiative the Madras man is going to take up..but because of my interest to visit at least one Iyappa shrine.Finally a date was fixed and it is planned to start our journey from Madurai at 4 o’clock in the early morning.

image When I met Mr. Ramachandran, he looked like a Swamiji with his kaavi dhoti. When I asked him what made him to take up this initiative, his answer was simple and straightforward. எனக்கு கிடச்ச வாழ்க்கை, செல்வம் அச்சன்கோவில் அய்யப்பனாலும், மேக்கரை கருப்பானாலும் கிடச்சதா நினைக்கிறேன். அதுல கொஞ்சம் பிறருடன் பங்கிட்டுக்கொள்ள நினைக்கிறேன். (I strongly believe that whatever I have is the blessings of Achankoil Ayyappan and Kottaivasal Karuppan and I have to share it with those who live in that area) If he would have said that he was moved by the poverty and backwardness of the village, I would not have been attracted either to him or to his initiative in Mekkarai. What I found in him was a quest for self actualization, which basically sustains initiatives like this. That attracted me towards Ramachandranji and Mekkarai.

I went to Mekkarai along with him and our common friend Swadeshi Srinivasan. For a man like me who hails from a rain fed area, Mekkarai looked beautiful with its scenic beauty. Mekkarai is a border village between TN and kerala, on the way to Achankoil is located in a forest area. We always presume that wherever beauty reigns it will automatically bring riches and prosperity. Is it not? Any one who passes through Mekkarai will definitely think that it should be a rich village. As I looked at Mekkarai, I thought that one need to adopt a different strategy to work in Mekkarai. ஆனால் அடுத்த ஐந்தாறு மணிநேரத்தில் மேக்கரையில் நெடிதுயர்ந்த மரங்களின் நிழலில் வறுமை பல்லாண்டுகளாக சுகமாக அமர்ந்திருப்பதை காண முடிந்தது. I realized within a short time poverty is deep rooted as the roots of the trees standing there.But condition there in Mekkarai was entirely different..the entire land being owned by a mutt…the houses are being dispersed over 2500 hectares..population consisted of Tamils, Malayalis…more than that seeds for Meenakshipuram episode was sown here. For my limited experience, it was an entirely different village.

I promised to be with Ramachandranji in his initiative, be with the villagers, to work with them. We returned from the village with a determination, a determination to share our destiny, knowledge, resources with Mekkarai people.

It was really a paradox, when we left the village in the evening, the village entered into us from the opposite side. It is an interesting story to share, how not only we, but also our friends also have been entrapped by Mekkarai.

Integrating PRA with GPS

My urge to further understand Mekkarai, to qualitatively improve the PRA tools especially mapping tools with GPS (Geo-Positioning System) and my students (2007 batch of Community Development) interest to get a hands on experience in PRA tools..all these resulted in organizing a PRA Camp in Mekkarai.

Since I planned to integrate GPS with social mapping and I could not find any previous model or review to fall upon,  I asked help from Dr.T. Pavendar of MKU and PAD-Vembar and my good friend Mr. Rajeshkumar to work with the computer in the field.

Group Photo While the students with the help of Mr. Ramalingam (PAD) and another student  Mr. Jeganathan facilitated PRA exercises as I planned, Dr. Gladwin of PAD and Dr. Pavendar as per my plan took GPS points and tracked the routes with GPS. There was a problem in downloading the GPS points (now there are humpty number of

What made me to use GPS in PRA

In the past, when PRA was introduced, it was possible to bring quality PRA outputs when we directly facilitated PRA tools. Now I find it very difficult to get quality output. The reason I found that, a decade before, as facilitators we felt that to get quality output we have to spend time with the communities and local people were also found time to be with us. It normally took 4-5 hrs or even more to draw a self explanatory social map of a village with 200-250 households. It was possible to engage the participants with interest through our facilitating skills. The present generation of facilitators as well as communities are impatient to spend this much of time. The output brought by the facilitators many times is incomplete and also frustrating. Since the nature of participation has underwent a radical transformation, no one can be blamed for this. In order to overcome the problems of facilitating some basic PRA tools, I thought of using GPS. I used GPS, to locate the important landmarks in a community (depending on the size of the community 20-50 GPS points) and converting it in to a sketch and asking the locals to put the details in to the sketch as one does it in the conventional social mapping. This really saved time for both of us. I found that more informative and reliable social maps could be generated by using this methodology. Since using GIS software and getting training in it is beyond our reach, I used COREL Draw to digitalize the social map and other visuals. The maps thus produced are roughly scalable and the local communities liked it immensely. Now we are in a process of developing a database of households that can be viewed when the cursor moves on to a particular household.

soft wares available to download it), finally we prepared a GIS map and the social map taken by the students integrated with it and Rajesh has developed a Mekkarai map in coral draw for presentation.

We were able to draw not an eye sketch of the social map as any PRA practitioners do, but a scalable social map with 540 households spread in more than 2500 hectares.

The idea of integrating GPS with PRA was literally thought of by me and I am happy at the output we got. The problems we experienced and the solutions we arrived was ours own. After returning from Mekkarai, I happened to visit PPGIS site, but it was not helpful in answering some of the problem we experienced in the field.

Mekkarai in fact opened up possibilities in further making PRA as a pleasant experience.

What we did in Mekkarai after this? See the slide show
See Mekkarai Village in Flickr

Learn more about using PGIS in a Urban Ward & in an island

Part II

Integrating PRA with GIS is called as People’s Participatory Geo Information System(PPGIS).Experiments are plenty in using GIS to generate information for planners. There is nothing wrong in generating data for planners but the people do not own the process as it happens with the village maps.
If we want to claim PGIS as truly participatory, we should address the problems of the field level workers who are involved in facilitating participatory exercises. Creative integration of GPS / GIS in facilitation can improve the quality of PRA exercises, make the local people to understand the process better and reduce the time taken for facilitation. Though GPS belongs to high end technology, fishermen in Tamilnadu are extensively using GPS and I personally seen  how it reduced their drudgery and improved their mobility in the sea. Grass root level workers with their fresh thinking and creativity definitely enrich and add value to those tools we give them. I happened to be with Robert Chambers when he was impressed by a physically challenged girl using a cigarette wrapper to enter the household data and Chambers finally adopted it as a card methodology to enter the household data and this methodology till date is used by thousands of facilitators in the field.
In integrating GPS/GIS with PRA, I was misguided, cheated, made to waste time and precious personal resources by those who claimed that they knew GIS. Finally, we learnt many things on our own. Any one in the PGIS will be surprised to know how we improved our capacity on our own, if they happened to see our earlier social maps and the present one I attempted at Mekkarai village in Tamilnadu using GPS. I am happy to say that now we are experimenting PGIS on a wider scale both in the rural as well as in urban settings.

What we need

From my personal experience what we need to practice PGIS is to find out  a simple tool for digital map making (a diagramming tool), learn to use GPS (which is used by ordinary fishermen in Tamilnadu) and finding out an appropriate software that can use the map as an front end to retrieve the data base or else encourage the local people to insert comments as millions are doing it in wiki maps. Since many of the development workers even at the grass root level are using computers it is possible to scale up PGIS. Development workers at the grass root level will take care of the next phase of participatory GIS if we provide them with appropriate and affordable soft wares.

November 1, 2008

Nativity in Social Work Teaching

Empathy யும் புளியங்காயும்
I owe a lot to people with a native wisdom who helped me to understand certain basic concepts that as a social worker I am expected to understand. Native wisdom has the power to clarify complex concepts in a surprisingly simple way. Native wisdom no doubt enrich social work, both teaching and practice, but I have to admit that as a social work educator, I failed to nurture it both in me and in my students, because of my own ignorance about its value. My mind goes blank, if I attempt to recollect what I have learnt it from the classroom as a student. Though I had some good teachers, they could not nail me down with their interpretation dyed with their native wisdom. Even good teachers interpreted certain concepts in such a way that alienated students from the subject. Since, I followed their foot steps, I would have continued the same mistakes with my students unconsciously. (Sorry Students)

It was an ordinary police constable (father of a student) who helped me to better understand the meaning of “SOCIAL” in “SOCIAL WORK” which I proudly shared it in my class room for the past several years. It was Mr. Indira Soundarajan, a popular Tamil writer, who made me to understand the meaning of “community pace” from a native perspective. There are lots of examples like this. That is why I said, I owe a lot to ordinary men & women who took pains to dye me with the native wisdom.

In the beginning of my teaching carrier, I was searching to find out the etimiology of social work i.e. Samoogappani in Tamil, that took me to several Tamil scholars, a few of them were useful and suggested me to refer Tamil Nigandus (Dictionaries), through which I learned about 22 Arams (இருபத்தி இரண்டு அறம் ), an inclusive welfare concept, about which any tamilians can be proud of. Since I was half hearted in my attempt, I could not make any appreciable output out of that.

Some years ago, out of my interest, I arranged for a small interdisciplinary dialogue, to throw light on the principles of social work from the perspective of Tamil literature and culture. We invited Dr. E.K.Ramasamy of Yadhava College (a Periarist) and Dr. Pothi Reddi of American College (a Marxian thinker) for that dialogue. Dr. E.K.R was point blank in his remarks about “self help” – “How can we, who are incapable of preparing a cup of tea in our homes are morally qualified to teach the values of self help? Since the meaning of self help is itself self explanatory, we presume that it needs no further thinking. In a way it is true that we never bothered to probe what impedes self help and the enabling environment that needed to cultivate it both in the personal and in the public arena. After listening the idioms, phrases and proverbs we used to interpret the social work principles, they pointed out the lack of native touch. They suggested to use native proverbs and phrases to interpret (for example for empathy we conventionally use the phrase – putting ourselves in other shoes) and suggested to replace alien proverbs, however it may be popular globally, with native proverbs (for example instead of giving fish, teach people to catch fish)- the rationality behind their suggestion was, the interpretation that we use should fire the imagination of the students – make them to relate it with their life.

After this I literally stopped interpreting certain concepts as we did conventionally, but I could not equip myself to interpret it in a different way. I was feeling helpless and ordinary people came to my rescue.

One such wonderful man I met recently was Sri. Jeyapandian, an ordinary load man in Madurai Central Vegetable Market, with an admirable qualities and native wisdom. Without any formal schooling, he designed more than 100 prototype models, ranging a water splasher to wake anyone from sleep and a robo to safeguard our national boundary. He used scientific principles of mechanics, hydraulics, electronics and computers in designing and developing his prototype models.More than his models, I was interested to listen to him, for the ease with which he used idioms, phrases and proverbs to explain his points.

When he talked about human feelings, he emphasized the need for empathy in his own native way. In Jayapandian’s words “empathy should be like …secreting saliva automatically when we happened to see a person chewing a tamarind fruit” (அடுத்தவங்க புளியங்காயை வாயிலே வச்சதும் நம்ம நாக்கிலே எச்சி ஊருவது போல) . This I can understand better than putting my self in other shoes.

This native touch will definitely enrich our understanding of social work concepts and one can see lot of such examples in management education.

Let us think about giving more and more native touch in social work training

Mr.Jayapandian’s demonstration of remotely operated rifle robo at Madurai Institute of Social Sciences

October 16, 2008

Useful Resouces & Links

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , — cdmiss @ 2:03 am
When I ask my students to read more than the material given in the class room or write assignments, they don’t think of the college library but of the browsing center. Of course they are not totally wrong in their attitude, because a library functioning with a limited budget can’t provide materials related to the newly introduced programs/emerging  concepts. With their limited computer skills many of the students could not get worthy material for the time and amount they spend in the browsing center. For example to get relevant material for JNNURM program a student has spend more than 5 hours and 150 rupees. No doubt it is taxing the students. Besides there is an inequality exists in using the internet resources between the rich and poor students, between boys and girls because girls are expected to return to the hostel/home before 8 pm. That made me to collect the addresses of useful sites so that whenever we demand them to refer additional resources, we can advice them to go to a specific site, so that students can use the internet resources much more efficiently. This may sound funny for the students from elite institutions where the UGC itself is subsidising many facilities of their college through which students are benefitted. Rich is becoming richer and the poor are becoming poor is also true as far as academic institutions are concerned. The elite institutions where the economically better of are studying are subsidising certain services to their students through grants and projects.
The addresses given in this site may not be relevant or may be obsolete for those students who do their community development in the so called elite institutions. These addresses aimed at those students doing their MSW course in institutions where there is no subsidized IT facilities are not available.
The addresses will grow depending on the demands of the students
Following is the list of useful websites and other resources for student’s reference
Government of India
Ministry of Rural Development Government of India
Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
National Institute of Urban Affairs
Goverment of Tamilnadu
Departments
Rural Development & Panchayat Raj Department
Housing and Urban Development Department
Human Rights
Introduction to Human Rights
Human Rights Commission – India

October 15, 2008

Participatory Rural Appraisal

Since there is an increasing number of students and other friends working in the nonprofit sector have repeatedly approached me to provide some basic material related to PRA, LFA and Livelihood Framework etc, I have decided to put the material in the cdmissmdu (community Development) blogspot. I sincerely acknowledge all the sources from where the content is taken. This compilation will be useful both for the beginners and all those who want to refesh the subject matter. Please post a comment / suggestions so that I will improve it in order to make learning and understanding participatory methodologies as a pleasant experience. Apart from the original sources, I gratefully acknoweldge my sincere gratitude to Dr. John Devavaram, Founder of SPEECH & RCPDS who introduced me to PRA and Mr. Rajendra Prasad, Executive Director, PAD who sustained my interest in PRA and Mr. Balamurugan of Save the Children India, Mr. Muniasamy of CCFC and Mr. Rajesh Kumar and other staffs in SPEECH and PAD who made PRA as a pleasnt experience.
Participatory Rural Appraisal Part I
Participatory Rural Appraisal Part II
A compilation of material by S.Rengasamy, Faculty Member, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences collected from various sources to help the students and development workers to understand and refrsh the basic concepts and tools of PRA

Teaching Regional Planning

After two and half hours of tiring lecture, I was told that someone was waiting for me in my room.By then I was trying to interest my student on regional planning. It has been my topic of interest for years; when the long lecture ended I remembered that someone was waiting for me. When I went back to my room I could not find anyone, I went to canteen for a coffee and in my return, I found two senior professors from Meenakshi Govt. College for Women waiting for me. After a formal greeting, one of them informed me that she had accidentally visited this blog and to her surprise found the materials related regional planning in the site. I heard from her that regional planning has been introduced as an elective subject in M.Sc Geography under the new CBCS and they have been trying hard to find materials for their students. This blog made them find that regional planning is also included in the MSW curriculum and that made them to approach us (Madurai Institute of Social Sciences) to get some useful reference material as the resources related to regional planning in their library was totally damaged in previous year’s floods.

I recollected my own experience of running here and there to collect materials when we decided to have a paper on regional planning in our curriculum by then was abstruse; I had to work on my own interest to build some good material for the paper. Over the years, I developed materials relevant to our syllabus. When some of the affiliated colleges in MK university area started MSW course, the instructors of that regional planning paper advised their students to get it from their friends doing MSW in our college. Though I was disgusted about their behavior, in order to avoid the hardships faced by the students doing community development specialization in other colleges, I decided to upload the learning material given to my students in this blog and that has been noticed by the teachers like me who were infact searching for resources to help their own students.The decision of these two professors to visit our college itself is a proof for their concern towards their students. More than that their visit made me to realize the power of technology… thanks to Google with its user friendly technology motivated even computer illiterate like me to use its facilities. An enabling environment is needed even to share what we have.. Is it not?

If I recollect my experiences in teaching regional planning to social work students, it was really a frustrating experience. I thought of recommending to take away that paper from the syllabus but for the request of a fraction of my own alumni who really felt that knowledge about regional planning helped them to grasp the nuances of development. One alumnus told me that his knowledge about viability, range of goods and the concept of innovative firms made others to feel that he might have done his MBA additionally. No doubt it sensitized a limited number of students about the need for spatial social justice. But I have to admit that they are very few in number. My teaching experience in the subject has been very frustrating. Majority of my students always give me looks that admit their indifference to the subject.

But teaching of regional planning and adopting it social work curricula benefited me immensely..widened my cognitive horizons and perception. It sharpened my facilitating skills in participatory rural appraisal (PRA), it sensitized me about the intra village disparities and to produce beautiful self explanatory PRA visuals. My interest in regional planning made me a graphicrate.. it slowly made me to learn about GIS and to adapt GPS in PRA practice, normally not of an interesting area for social work educators. My attempt to incorporate GPS in PRA improved the quality of social mapping and reliability of household related information generation. This combination made both the villagers and the NGO’s field staff to feel that social mapping as a pleasant experience. (I am planning to document some of these experiences as an example for best practices in peoples’ participatory geographic information system- PGIS)
This is the positive side but on the negative side, to admit honestly I could not create any interest with my own MSW students. In an utter frustration I recommended to replace regional planning paper with the new livelihood promotion paper. Since locality/regional development is inseperable from livelihood promotion, I retained many of the core concepts that are borrowed from regional planning.
As the semester is coming to an end, I realized that this is the last semester for regional planning paper and it won’t be taught as a subject matter in the semesters to come. It is time to bid goodbye to regional planning from MISS. The approach of the two professors made me to share whatever I have developed. so far But, I feel honored when I think that the material may be better appreciated outside than my students and my colleagues.
Good bye regional planning from MISS and have a nice and fruitful days in the Meeanakshi College.
Thanks to professors Dr. Sethu Rakkayee and Dr. Rameshwari of Sri. Meenakshi Govt.College for women for honoring regional planning by visiting MISS with the real spirit of searching knowledge, the basic quality of a true teacher.
(Note: The entire material is uploaded in scribd site (see the Community Development Specialization Syllabus Post –Paper 16. Regional Planning in this blog ) and ppt presentation will be uploaded in this site after a little bit of editing)

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