Re-envisioning agricultural education needs more than a new syllabus
The recent move to introduce Natural Farming at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in agricultural education is a right step in enabling
"India’s place in the sun would come from the partnership between wisdom of its rural people and skill of its professionals"
- Dr. Verghese Kurien
"Take a moment-in-time snapshot of the world, and you see wealthy, urban, industrial, ‘developed’ economies set against impoverished, rural, peasant, ‘backward’ economies. Film it as a movie over decades, centuries, millennia, and these ‘developed’ and ‘backward’ economies are revealed as two sides of the same coin, with the impoverishment of the countryside/periphery typically a consequence of urban/core wealth"
- Chris Smaje
Young people are uniquely positioned to be agents of change and positively contribute to the society. Many issues currently faced today have their roots in the unfolding ecological and economic crises, with the rural agrarian sector suffering the brunt of it. For young people to participate in meaningful initiatives, they require relevant exposure to rural realities along with sustained mentorship. Working at close quarters with the rural population can bring in the much-needed perspective for designing impactful, ground-up interventions. Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have traditionally enabled the motivational aspiration by collaborating with universities to facilitate field-based internships. These organisations have also been involved in agrarian innovations, and collective enterprises that can positively impact rural ecology and economy. However, such interventions remain islands of alternate practices, unless significant number of young people are motivated to expand on the work done. To bridge this gap, the Verghese Kurien Rural Internship (VKRI), aims to provide youth from regional and central universities an opportunity to intern with CSOs working on rural and rural development issues. It is hoped that some may discover a vocation to take up such work when their studies are over.
The Verghese Kurien Rural Internship (VKRI), in partnership with outreach platforms will be reaching out to host CSOs who are actively involved in the rural sector and have a clear agenda/ work plan to engage the students. Public universities will be targeted through roadshows and events to spread awareness about the organisations working in the rural agrarian sector, and encourage students to apply for the internship. Selected students will be inducted into the programme and connected with the host CSO institutions, who will then mentor the students for the rest of the duration. The interns can spend 6-12 weeks with the organisation based on mutual interest and requirement. Interns would be required to share a detailed report of the work done, and be encouraged to write a brief reflective note to help prospective students get a sense of the programme. A fixed stipend (as student’s qualification and experience) will be provided to the interns to cover their living expenses. Host CSOs will be expected to take care of local travel.