A one-of-its-kind programme, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 is an initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) under which 750 higher education institutions will join hands in devising ways to solve the daily problems of Indian villagers.

The students will get hands-on experience of the life at villages while working on the initiative, which in turn will help upgrade the living standards of the rural folks. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to transform India.

All About the Programme

Prakash Javadekar

Prakash Javadekar

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Students are the real agents of change who can develop, empower and brighten the future of the country.” India is a country where more than half the population lives in villages and each of the villages has its own set of challenges.

Realizing the fact that villages needs to be improved and that too at a fast pace, Javadekar added, “This unique programme by the MHRD will serve as a real Bharat Darshan for students and it will also be a chance for them to learn about the basic challenges faced by the villagers. It will also be a unique opportunity for the students to offer practical solutions to the problems faced by the villagers.”

He added, “Students should involve the local villagers at every stage of problem identification and problem solution on issues related to health, cleanliness and waste management, plantation, financial inclusion and women and child development.”

A practical handbook will be developed relating to the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan project, which will act as a manual for the students to bring about changes in the lives of the deprived villagers.

Dr. Satya Pal Singh

Dr. Satya Pal Singh

Dr. Satya Pal Singh, the Minister of State for HRD, emphasised, “India witnessed the migration of rural population in the past. However, now the process of sustainable development through the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0 will help to reverse this migration.”

“Empowering and developing villages through students’ contribution is the motto of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan. 750 colleges were selected and invited to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). These institutes shared their best practices and success stories,” informed Prof. Anil D. Sahasrabudhe, the Chairman of AICTE.

250 technical institutions and 500 non-technical institutions were selected for phase 1. Any higher educational institution, which is already involved in rural development activities is eligible to be a part of the Unnat Bharat Programme. These institutions should have at least 500 students, excluding the first and final year students. These students should have identified at least five villages in their vicinity to start the programme. Also, the participating institutions need to have at least two faculty members who are involved with development activities in rural areas. These selected institutions will then engage at the panchayat level of the chosen villages to work on the issues faced by the villagers and bring about some radical changes in their lifestyle.

Under this programme, the higher education institutions will motivate the rural public, particularly the young generation to ensure the socio-economic development of the villages through various schemes and initiatives. The Indian Institution of Technology (IIT) Delhi has also joined hands to develop the technology to take the development process to the rural areas.

Plans for the Future

The Higher Education Secretary R. Subrahmanyam appealed to the students to make this programme a national movement. He informed, “750 higher education institutions (public and private) have been chosen for this programme. It is the first phase of the programme and more institutions will be added to this programme in the next phase.”

A total of 45,000 villages of the country will be included under this programme and the government is targeting 8,252 higher education institutions to facilitate this programme. The higher education institutions are largely funded by the government and hence the participation of the students in this campaign will be akin to a payback.

The main targets that this programme intends to achieve are cent percent school result, creating 25 jobs in each village, increasing rural income, providing drinking water, solving sanitation issues, disposing village garbage and the likes

Under this programme, the MHRD will assist in training and gap funding for technical solutions. However, the institutions have to fund the cost of field studies, assess the need to identify the problems and then formulate customized technological solutions. The total cost of this programme is Rs. 83.08 crore.

Strategy and Selection

The higher education institutions have been selected through a challenge method from both technical and non-technical streams based on parameters such as the history of engagement with rural communities, adequate faculty members and commitment to the programme objectives.

The selected institutions will work with the state government, district authorities/ Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)/ other institutions and non-governmental bodies for arriving at suitable solutions for improving the social and economic well-being of the rural communities. Additionally, the selected institutes will meet from their own resources all expenses for the field visits and any other expense that is not specifically funded under the scheme.

Where technological solution is to be developed or customized to local requirements, a small grant would be available under the scheme, as recommended by the Subject Expert Groups. The institutions are also expected to do field studies, study the implementation of government schemes and facilitate their better implementation so that they meet their objectives best.

Year Number of Technical Institutions Non-Technical Institutions Total Institutions to be selected
2017-18 250 500 750
2018-19 1000 2000 3000
2019-20 1500 3000 4500

The 170 Institutions, which are already participating in Unnat Bharat Abhiyan have been automatically selected for the first year. The names of the selected institutions would be intimated to the state government and the district magistrates concerned so as to allow easy linking with the local authorities.

IIT Delhi will be functioning as the National Coordinating institute for this programme and the Ministry tends to extend the coverage to all the reputed higher educational institutions. The selected institute will adopt a cluster of villages and panchayats and will expand the outreach over a period of time. The students will do the research evaluation of the villages adopted and will carry out studies of living conditions, access the local problems and needs, workout the possibilities of leveraging the technological interventions and the need to improve the processes in implementation of various government schemes and prepare workable action plans for the selected villages.

The knowledge input will help in the development of the rural areas. The institutes will closely coordinate with the district administration, elected public representatives of panchayat/ villages and other stakeholders and will become very much a part of the process of development, planning and implementation.

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Reporting by Bhawna Satsangi
Special Correspondent, Delhi

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