RURAL MANAGEMENT IN INDIA

RURAL MANAGEMENT DEGREE IN INDIAGlobalisation and liberalisation have accelerated the pace of this transformation, often to complex levels.The agricultural sector employs 70 per cent of the national workforce, contributes a handsome 23 per cent to the GDP, and is no longer regarded to be the poor cousin in India's growth equation. It has now opened the floodgates of opportunity for those interested in making careers in this field. If experts are to be believed, agriculture may actually turn out to be the most under-appreciated driver of India's structural growth acceleration over the coming decade. Factors that can be attributed to this recent upsurge are increasing export potential and rapidly growing domestic demand fuelled by the booming retail market.

EXPANDING HORIZONS

Today a career in agriculture is no longer synonymous with farming alone. It has grown into a mesh of numerous career opportunities. You have scientists, engineers, MBAs, bankers, manufacturers, traders, entrepreneurs and a host of others who are willing to get into the business of agriculture.
Careers in agribusiness, agri-management, agri-insurance are quite rewarding. And it would not be blowing things out of proportion to say that this sector will hold the bulk of world's manpower in the coming years.

A report on rural management education in India by Prof M S Sriram, IIM Ahmedabad, cements Smriti's opinion. According to the report, one of the pioneering initiatives that has fuelled the demand for qualified professionals in the agri sector is the e-choupal experiment of ITC. E- choupal is a quiet digital revolution that has been reforming the lives of farmers in remote Indian villages. E- choupals are village Internet kiosks managed by farmers, which enable the agricultural community to access ready information on the weather and market prices.
In his report, Prof Sriram says that it was with the introduction of such a concept in the rural market place, that the demand for rural managers started moving from the theoretical co-operative space to structured corporate buying.Thus a typical rural manager would have the satisfaction of working with farmers, earning a decent pay package and enjoy the prestige attached to working with a reputed corporate. On the retailing front, starting with RPG's entry into the retail segment through its erstwhile partnership with Foodworld and later with the entry of players like Big Bazaar, Reliance, Bharti and Subhiksha, there has been a demand for managers who possibly comprehended this type of business better.
According to the same report, the failure of the co-operative banking system led to the private sector banks foraying into the rural territory. As these banks usually do not have a branch network in rural India, they had to come up with innovative solutions to reach the small and remote customer. The knowledge of rural management graduates can thus be very handy in this sector.

SKILL SETS
Today, the focus in agricultural studies is on developing the entrepreneurial skills of the students in areas such as agri-business management, post-harvest technologies and marketing.There is also an increasing appreciation of the need for greater synergy between general and agricultural education.With intensive agriculture raking up environmental problems, environmental protection and management have also started receiving increased attention.
Although it is possible to have a career in this sector without any formal training, given the range and scope of career in the agriculture sector it is essential to obtain formal training to become successful particularly in the areas of research and agro-industry. When questioned about the essential skill sets that one needs to have to join the sector, Pranav Prashad, Head - Rural & Agriculture Business Group, ICICI Lombard says, "The only requirement is a willingness to work in rural areas. There are special products that our organisation has developed for the rural areas which one needs to understand. An understanding and familiarity with the local geography does help in selling products to the local masses."

JOB PROFILE
As a rural management graduate, you have to look at ways and methods of increasing profitability and sustainability of organisations that are involved in rural management.You will also be expected to oversee large-scale projects in rural development, manage farms, and take care of daily activities. If you find placement in rural consultancies, you may have to plan, budget, market, supervise and even recruit workers.
If you want to balance your career with philanthropic achievements, have the willingness to learn and work in the rural and agri environment, can spend time dealing with the rural and agri customers, have some working knowledge of seeds and fertiliser based setups and have some clue on what distribution is along with a fair bit of idea about handling teams, you have a starting advantage.

OPPORTUNITIES KNOCKING
With a rural management degree in your kitty, you can work in NGOs, co-operatives, banks (NABARD, ICICI, UTI), insurance companies (ICICI LOMBARD, LIC), retail giants (Future Group, Reliance Retail, Godrej Agrovat, Bharti, RPG), join MNCs or rural consultancies (ITC e-choupal;The SCS group; Grossman & Associates).You can also join research agencies, which include the UN and its subsidiaries.
List of NGOs that hire rural management graduates include Action for Food production (AFPRO); Association for Voluntary Agencies for Rural Development (AVARD); Aga Khan Rural Support programme (AKRSP); BAIF; CHIRAG; Development Alternatives and Ecotech Services (ETS). (Indicative Listing)

GET TRAINED
Following the establishing of IRMA, several other institutions have started programmes in rural management. Prominent among them are:
IIFM
IIM, Ahmedabad
IIM, Lucknow
Xavier Institute of Management (XIMB), Bhubaneswar
Xavier Institute of Social Sciences (XISS), Ranchi
MANAGE, Hyderabad
XIDAS, Jabalpur
Indian Institute of Rural Management, Jaipur
VAMNICOM, Pune
Tata Dhan Academy, Madurai
Kalinga School of Rural Management
(Indicative Listing)

ELIGIBILITY

Graduates with a minimum of 15 years (10+2+3) of education and 50 per cent (45 per cent for SC/ ST/ PWD) aggregate marks or an equivalent GPA from a recognised Indian or foreign university/ institute are eligible to apply.The percentage of aggregate marks is to be calculated as per the practice followed by the concerned university/ institute.

ADMISSION PROCESS

IRMA: All eligible candidates, including sponsored candidates, have to appear for a written test comprising four sections: English Comprehension, Quantitative Ability, Reasoning and Analytical Skills and Issues of Social Concern.
XIMB: Admission to the Postgraduate programme in Rural Management (PGDRM) is done on the basis of IRMA/ XAT test score, group discussion and interview.Those who have passed or appearing in the three-year bachelor's degree are eligible to apply to this course at XIMB.
IIRM, Jaipur: All candidates will be required to appear in MAT/ XAT/ ATMA. Final selection is based on over-all scores obtained by the candidates in any of the above exams followed by group discussion, personal interview and academic record.

MONEY TALK

Almost all students from premier institutes like IRMA, IIMA, MANAGE get excellent placements. "Remuneration is dependent on your background and while freshers are few, postgraduates from professional institutes can expect competitive packages in line with their 'urban' counterparts," adds Prashad.
According to management guru C K Prahlad, the world's most exciting and most rapidly growing new market is where you least expect it: at the bottom of the pyramid. In his acclaimed book,The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Prahlad highlights why we can no longer afford to ignore 'Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) markets.'
Going with Prahald's views, perhaps, one can safely conclude that those venturing into the rural-agricultural sector can hope to have an abundant harvest!

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