“To bring about real change, I have to work at the grassroot level,” says Sharvari Pande, who has done her Masters in Development Policy. “I will not understand the real issues while sitting in an air-conditioned office.”
Sharvari is one of the many young women, and men, from across India, who dream of not just settling for a well-paying job but have the passion to make some real difference. These are people willing to make time and travel distances to get a better understanding of the issues on the ground, and become pioneers when it comes to developing impactful solutions.
Young people like these embody Nobel laureate Kofi Annan’s quote which states that “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation.” Youth, with their will, imagination and vigor, are a force that can illuminate the way in which our collective future gets decided. And with over 65% of population below the age of 35, India has got what it takes to be the next super-power. The youth of today has the potential to work together with government and private organizations and bring about a larger change.
In an initiative that can have far-reaching impact, Axis Bank Foundation (ABF), the CSR arm of Axis Bank, teamed up with a bunch of motivated youngsters to be the catalysts of change in transforming the face of rural Maharashtra and achieve their development goals this year. For this, ABF has pledged its support towards the Government of Maharashtra’s ‘Village Social Transformation Mission’.
These youngsters, like Sharvari, are fellows of a 12-month Chief Minister Rural Development Fellowship (CMRDF) program designed under the Mission.
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This mission aims to reform the rural conditions in over 1,000 worst-affected villages by drought and other social challenges, and convert them into Model Villages, creating a model for replication in the process. This model will then be scaled across the state. This Mission is a collaborative effort of the Government of Maharashtra with the private sector, which will provide both financial and technical support to the Mission
Acknowledging their responsibility and trusting their powers, many young students have come together for a year-long fellowship to drive change from within the village. While this will ensure effective execution on the ground and empower the locals to fully participate in their own development, it will also enable these young guns to transform their social impact ideas into actionable projects, providing them with first-hand experience at being the drivers of social change.
“I know about rural areas, but spending a year there will help me understand the exact requirements and loopholes,” says Mayuri Mahartale, one of the fellows looking forward to the fellowship. “There is a Marathi saying: ‘One should help others to achieve our goals’,” she adds.
Axis Bank Foundation, which has been allocated 15 villages in Yavatmal district, along with its NGO partner Dilasa, will also be implementing its flagship financial inclusion and financial literacy programs in these villages to fast track development and introduce the unbanked and under-banked to the world of banking.
“This is something that can’t be accomplished alone. Everyone should work together to bring the change,” concludes Omkar Rajendra Deshpande, another fellow.