Rural Development 3.0

Revolutionizing Rural Development: Meghalaya’s Rural Development 3.0 Vision Document and the Role of Junior Rural Development Officers

Meghalaya launches Rural Development 3.0 Vision Document; Valedictory function for JRDOs

The Rural Development 3.0 Vision Document of Meghalaya was launched during the valedictory function of the two-week long training programme of the Junior Rural Development Officers (JRDOs) whose orientation programme began on 17th October 2022 and concluded on October 25, 2022. The Rural Development 3.0 Vision Document has been initiated with the objective to go beyond the existing initiatives under Rural Development 2.0 and extend the efforts in shaping the State’s rural economy to be self-sufficient, resilient and future oriented.

Speaking at the occasion as the Chief Guest, Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Conrad Sangma deemed this development as a massive revolution that will enhance collaboration and inter-departmental convergence in the interest of community and rural development. Emphasizing on the role of the newly recruited JRDOs who completed phase 1 of their training, the CM said that this is an important step taken by the state to set up a dedicated cadre to cater to several rural needs of the State. He added that reinvigorating rural development in different villages across the state can generate off-farm income opportunities, reduce vulnerability, and narrow the urban-rural income disparity. In his address to the JRDOs, the CM emphasized that the ultimate goal should be to help the people of the state, while working diligently towards achieving targets and a greater goal, which is improving the last mile service delivery.

Delivering his keynote address, Mr. Sampath Kumar, Development Commissioner – SCEP said that the vision document for Rural Development 3.0 is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the state which lays out significant goals across 4 core dimensions- economy, human development, environment and local governance. He said that the government is addressing systemic challenges to rural development by adopting a holistic approach that focuses not only on upscaling uptake of existing schemes such as MGNREGA and NRLM, but more so, by creating an enabling environment by strengthening communities, especially the women’s collectives, that would ensure sustainability of developmental activities. In line with attainment of the laid down goals, he stated that the recruitment process of the JRDOs has been rigorous and well ensured to achieve the desired goals, as laid down in the vision document.

Meghalaya is using the principles of State Capability Enhancement Project (SCEP) to operationalize the vision of RD 3.0. A key guiding principle of SCEP is facilitating collaborative and local problem-solving, and, in the process, building systems that are more responsive to development needs and can support a long-term, sustained transformation of the state.

Under the NRLM, Meghalaya has seen significant strides in mobilization and activation of women led collectives called Self Help Groups (SHGs). The number of SHGs has increased by almost 80 times since 2014 and currently, there are more than 40,000 SHGs across the State. In terms of strengthening and supporting NRM activities, there are about 12,454 Village Community Facilitators (VCFs) supporting NRM activities at the village level. To promote women leadership, the state introduced a reservation for women in VECs to increase political participation of women and, through increasing women’s agency, improve education, health and labor market outcomes of women.The number of women occupying leadership positions in VEC has increased by almost 10 times over the past three years. Most of the women leaders are part of SHGs. Currently there are about 3681 women VEC leaders across the state, and the number is set to increase further.

Besides the above, the State through its PRIME and FOCUS initiatives are providing platforms and opportunities to the rural and urban entrepreneurs and small business owners to upscale their business as well as their ideas into a profitable venture. So far, about 150 entrepreneurs from across the State have been incubated and about 15528 producer groups have been supported.

Unlike the previous approaches towards attaining rural development, the new vision document is taking a holistic approach by focusing on 4 key dimensions including rural economy, human development, climate adaptation and resilience and local governance. An important highlight of the vision document is reorientation of the existing line department towards the new vision and facilitating collaboration between departments at all levels to ensure that the state is able to solve problems unique to the state.

It may be mentioned that this is the first time that the JRDO position has been created within this state department with an aim to bridge the divide between the communities and the Government. They will play a significant role in implementing the RD 3.0 Vision across the State, especially by enhancing collaboration and inter departmental convergence activities in the interest of community and rural development in the State.