Sharing Session - 31:  Rural Development: Through the Looking Glass by Dr. Chitra Krishnan

This sharing session was a  part of a broader KICS project titled
The State and Drought: Villagers' experiences"

Report in Kannada

Video Coverage of Session: 
1.  How beneficiaries Experience Government schemes
2. Collective Action & Changing Aspirations & 
3. The Beneficiary Writes

Government schemes for rural development are numerous - touching food, health, water, energy, education, livelihoods, etc. – in short, basic needs of the people. The delivery of these schemes however, is beset by corruption and lack of accountability and transparency – a widely acknowledged problem. What do the beneficiaries, whom these schemes are meant to benefit, make of these schemes? How do they view and engage with these schemes? Such accounts in their own words are few and far between.

This sharing session reflects on stories written by two villagers in the vernacular (and then translated) about five different rural development schemes as they experienced them. These stories are set in villages in the semi-arid regions of southern Karnataka.

The speaker will explore the connections between these seemingly varied stories belonging to different sectors and try to understand - what is the actual nature of involvement of beneficiaries?   What are the potential spaces provided for them to engage with the scheme?  The results of their involvement (or lack of it) and the influence of other actors in bringing about results. In examining these aspects, she tries to throw more light on the theme of collective action - when is it needed, when could it be expected and why not.

The speaker, Dr. Chitra Krishnan was trained as a civil engineer at IIT Madras following which she worked on water resource issues in rural Kerala before pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Engineering in USA. Her working stints in different rural contexts and an organic farm in the USA influenced her markedly in her research quests. She completed her PhD from IIT Delhi on the traditional irrigation system of South India (tanks and anicuts). Her research publications include “Irrigation Infrastructure: The Case of the Tungabhadra River”. She is currently practising dryland agriculture in Tumkur district, Karnataka and is involved in research studies looking at design and implementation issues of irrigation infrastructure from below.