Prominent Indian social activist Deep Joshi, who has done pioneering work for "development of rural communities", was today named along with five others for the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2009, considered as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Joshi is being recognised for "his vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the NGO movement in India, by effectively combining ‘head’ and ‘heart’ in the transformative development of rural communities," the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation said in a press statement from its headquarters in Manila.
"I am delighted to get this honour. But the award is not for an individual, it is for an idea, for the development of rural population. We need the educated people to go to rural areas and work for their welfare," 62-year-old Joshi told PTI.
A masters in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Masters in Management from the Sloan School, MIT, Joshi worked with the Systems Research Institute, the Ford Foundation and has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of rural development and livelihood promotion. He also advises the government on poverty alleviation strategies.
Joshi was the co-founder of Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) and now works as an independent consultant for the NGO which works for rural poor, promoting self-help groups, developing locally suitable economic activities, mobilising finances and introducing systems to improve livelihoods of rural people.
Why would engineers and management professionals, with degrees from institutions like MIT and Harvard, choose to apply their brainpower to small-scale irrigation setups in tribal Jharkhand? For Deep Joshi, who did exactly that, the pressing question was, what’s stopping them? The co-founder of Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), Joshi, now 60, says that for people with the finest management, social science or engineering education, there are few more worthy intellectual challenges than rural underdevelopment. "Development work is considered intellectually inferior, unlike high science, industry or diplomacy. We want to prove that it is both a challenging and a noble choice," he says.
Taking HR and bottomline profits as seriously as any blue-chip corporation, PRADAN recruits top professionals, including IIM and IIT graduates, and puts their expertise to work on projects to enhance agricultural productivity and promote rural livelihood, via animal husbandry, dairy farming and sericulture. The result is a group that is active in seven states, helps 68,000 families support themselves, supervises over Rs 100 crore worth of newly-created economic activity, and keeps on growing.
PRADAN is a voluntary organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act of India. Established in Delhi in 1983, PRADAN was pioneered by a group of young professionals, all of whom were inspired by the conviction that individuals with knowledge resources and empathy for the marginalised must work with communities at the grassroots in order to help them overcome poverty.
PRADAN believes that the path towards conquering economic poverty is through enhancing the livelihood capabilities of the poor and giving them access to sustainable income earning opportunities. In the process, the poor must be enabled to break free from their past, develop an alternative vision of their future and set achievable goals. They must be equipped with the technical, organisational, negotiating, and networking skills that will facilitate the fulfillment of their goals.
Today, some 268 highly motivated and skilled professionals under PRADAN’s fold are working in the remote villages of India, immersing themselves directly with target communities. These young professionals are recruited from universities and hold specialised degrees in subjects like management, engineering, agriculture, and the social sciences.
PRADAN professionals, divided into 27 teams, work with over 112,900 families in 3,044 villages across seven of the poorest states in the country. A majority of the families that PRADAN works with belong to the Schedule Tribes and Schedule Castes. PRADAN follows a four-pronged approach to achieve its goals: Promoting and nurturing Self-Help Groups (SHGs) of poor women and strengthening them as organisations to leverage institutional finances for members’ livelihoods. Developing and introducing locally suitable economic activities to increase productivity and incomes among SHG members; building synergic collaboration with a wide variety of stakeholders. Mobilising finances for livelihood assets and infrastructure from government bodies, donors, banks, and other financial institutions. Setting up mechanisms to sustain the livelihood gains made by the poor communities
Source : PTI/AP/Wikipedia