Dr. Ranjana Agarwal links CRICKET to PURA in move to boost India’s rural areas
Lack of basic facilities and information creates problems at the village level, says Dr. Ranjana Agarwal, who has been working on the PURA project (Putting Urban Facilities into Rural Areas) in connection with Institute of Management Technology’s CRICKET program.
“Education is the key to social change,” she said. “People lack information and awareness. The solution lies in creating awareness through different mediums. Mobiles can also be used as a means of dissemination and creating awareness among villagers.”
Her role in PURA was that of project guide in planning for implementation of PURA in green field areas. She, along with Prof. Surinder Batra and Dr. Neeraj Awasthy were guiding students on the project.
“My main role was mentoring the students on issues related to this project,” said Dr. Agarwal. “A team of six students took part in the project. Dr. Neeraj Awasthy and Dr. Agarwal took the students on a field visit to Chitrakoot PURA , and then went for a survey to Bahraich. We studied the existing PURA. We then made recommendations for underdeveloped areas.”
Currently, there are PURA complexes in Chitrakoot (M.P.), Warna, Loni, Periyar and another was inaugurated in Kerala last month.
While there were some fairly lofty goals for the PURA project to have achieved by 2012, Dr. Agarwal admitted they are yet to be seen.
“There are many bottlenecks which have to be met,” she mentioned.
Asked when all rural areas could see the benefits of PURA, she replied: “The time lag is very large. It depends on the speed at which PURA is implemented.”
PURA is a process which involves integration of four areas: physical, knowledge, electronic and economic and it requires a lot of time before that can be achieved, commented Dr. Agarwal.
PURA is based on a public-private community partnership model. Initiative is required from both the government and private sector to strengthen it.
As for what IMT-Ghaziabad’s CRICKET program will be doing next in regard to PURA, Dr. Agarwal said: “We are suggesting that the PURA project should be taken to a higher level of implementation. The recommendations for Bahraich can be applicable to all places. A plan can be made for real-life implementation by IMT students under PURA. Students are in the process of developing such a plan which can be implemented at the grassroots level.”
Dr. Agarwal, assistant professor in economic environment and strategy at IMT-Ghaziabad, received her BA Economics Hons., from Vasanta College for Women, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, in 1989, followed by her MA in economics, Banaras Hindu University in 1991. She received her MPhil and her PhD from Zakir Hussain Centre for Educational Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 2001. Formal training in social sciences from JNU grounded her in development issues. She has been associated with IMT Ghaziabad since 2006. She has also been a visiting faculty at University of Haifa, Israel.
Asked if there was anything she would change in her career or days as a student she noted- today, the management concept is being integrated in the development sector.
“During my days as a student, development issues and management studies were totally separate issues,” said Dr. Agarwal, but today, the new-age manager is enthusiastically participating in the development sector and she wishes it had been that way when she was a student.