India is a predominantly rural country with strong urban links. The development of rural India is hence, a prerequisite for overall development. For rural development, there are issues such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, education, agriculture and agro-based industrial development, that need planned interventions and policy prescriptions.
For the implementation and execution of schemes, plans and programmes, trained rural development professionals are needed to work for the government, private and civil society outfits. With new emerging areas in the field of rural development, there is immense scope for employment for trained professionals, whether in the government, corporate sector, research organisations, or non-government organisations/voluntary sector.
Almost all universities have courses on rural themes within different disciplines at post-graduate and graduate levels. For example, the Centre for Rural Development and Technology in the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) runs open elective courses for M.Tech and PhD programmes, and a B.Tech course on Technology and Community Development. The Career Institute of Rural Development affiliated to Barkatullah University, Bhopal has a full-time MBA programme in rural and urban management.
Other institutes have dedicated programmes too. The Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) Anand has its flagship post-graduate Programme in Rural Management (PRM), besides fellow and certificate programmes in rural management. These programmes are meant to train professional managers to work with and partner organisations for the equitable socio-economic development of rural India. National Institute of Rural Development Management, Hyderabad, imparts a one-year post graduate diploma in rural development.
The School of Rural Development under the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) works towards promoting sustainable, eco-friendly and equitable socioeconomic development of rural communities with special focus on gender and caste justice. The Institute’s rural campus in Tuljapur conducts a bachelor’s degree (Hons.) programme in social work, with specialisation in rural development. It has introduced a diploma programme in sustainable development to promote development initiatives in Ladakh.
The University of Kalyani in West Bengal has introduced a two-year master’s degree course in Rural Development and Management since 2003; currently, a Department of Rural Development and Management conducts courses on various aspects of grassroots interventions. The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) School of Continuing Education also conducts a master’s programme in rural development. Other institutes conducting courses in rural development are the Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi, and the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.
The eligibility criteria for any of these post-graduate programmes in rural development are a second-class degree at the graduate level. Most institutes conduct their own admission tests for entrance to these courses. To be doubly sure, it is advisable to check with individual institutions for details.