Our national development agenda has its focus on rural development. Most of India dwells in rural areas and therefore the national development agenda rightly seeks justice for those who often live in poverty, in the state of hunger and malnutrition and deprived of clean environment, sanitation and medical facilities. Rural scenarios are generally represented by agriculture, which involves all the land-related activities, such as cropping, forestry, agroforestry, plant protection, horticulture, animal husbandry, poultry, rural-based agro-industries, and the likes.
The state agricultural universities, the Indian Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes and the rural development institutions belonging to public and private sector work in accordance with the national development stream – the rural development. Agriculture is the soul of rural India and hence agricultural development represents the true spirit of national development.
A university is composed of four pillars: i) its infrastructure, ii) students, iii) teachers/ researchers/ extension workers, and iv) stakeholders, especially farmers. Students form the largest base of the University and, haplessly, this strong base has been and is being addressed inadequately. If tapped properly we can transform students’ energy into a kind of synergy that would be phenomenal towards changing the overall Indian rural scenario.
India: Oldest and the Youngest
India is the oldest civilization and yet today it has the largest proportion (40 percent or so) of the youth in the world. This population gives a youth flare to India. This segment of the population should be regarded as a boon rather than a bane. We must have enough enthusiasm, affection and affinity for this proportion of humanity. A fairly large proportion of this young population in the country is that of students who are supposed to be the future of a shining country.
Reports from all corners of the world are pouring that India is shining and that China and India are the future leaders of the world. Much of India’s shining would be contributed by the current strength of our youth, particularly the students.
The most important factor which could trigger the very positive role of students in rural development in India is how we as a university plan to shape their future. Students are getting exposure to a world view. They are being overdosed under the umbrella of information age. They are also dreaming about rendering their valuable services to the affluent countries of the North in order to enjoy better economic returns and all possible amenities ensuring high standards of life.
Under such circumstances, challenges before the agricultural universities like that of ours appear to be difficult to be met. Youth energy is critical to development, but at the same time its proper management is equally difficult.
Processes of Rural Development vis-à-vis Students: Need of a Paradigm Shift
Rural development processes are still not very mature and upright. Despite unusually high number of agricultural universities and institutes in our country, we have not been able to make our students’ mindset rural-oriented. Our youth are desperate to acquire lucrative jobs in big corporate houses or in foreign countries. Rural areas remain on the periphery of their thinking. A thought of work in and for rural areas, unfortunately, is like a nightmare for an average student in agricultural universities.
We need to ignite their thinking and reshape their attitudes so that they find rural areas as a better place for them to render their valuable services for which agricultural universities were established. This requires a paradigm shift in our basic thinking. Universities are signing protocols with foreign universities of the West and with big corporate houses, but we are neglecting our rural bodies playing vital role for the country. We are formulating exchange...