Furthering its efforts to engage academia in the role of social development in the country, and making them realize their social responsibilities, PRIA and the UNESCO Chair, in partnership with WaterAid organised a one-day state level consultation on ‘Possible Roles of Academia towards Swachh Bharat (Clean India)’ on 28th January 2016, at the Academy of Administration, Chhattisgarh. This consultation was an attempt towards collectivizing the academia, and harnessing its vast resources towards making the Swachh Bharat scheme successful, and social development of the state possible.
The workshop was convened by Dr. Rajesh Tandon, President, PRIA, & Co-chair, UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research & Social Responsibility in Higher Education. Dignitaries who graced the occasion included Mr Sunil Kumar, IAS (retd),Vice Chairperson, State Planning Commission, Mr. D. S Misra, IAS, Director General, Chhattisgarh Administrative Academy, Mr. P.P. Soti, Member State Planning Commission, Mr. Binu Arickal, Regional Manager, WaterAid (West), and Mr. Manoj Rai, Director, PRIA. The workshop was attended by professors/lecturers and students from different universities/colleges from various districts of Chhattisgarh.
The objective of the workshop was to develop an understanding among the participants on “Possible Roles of Academia” in Chhattisgarh towards Swachh Bharat. To realize the commitments to clean India in targeted time, Government of India has adopted a mission mode by launching Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). The discussion centred on ‘how the academic institutions can be pro-actively involved in expediting the implementation process of the mission in the state’. From the discussions, it emerged that for drawing learnings out of these experiences and for conducting systematic research, there was a need for academic institutions to be actively engaged in SBM. To facilitate this interface between State Mission on SBM and the academic institutions, PRIA & UNESCO Chair offered to play a facilitating role in capitalizing the resources & interests of different academic institutes with the Swachh Bharat Mission(SBM).
Dr. Rajesh Tandon shared that, in its history of 34 years, PRIA, (and now, UNESCO Chair) has been very actively involved in citizen governance, participatory research and has been working with academic institutions in engaging them in social responsibility. He assured that PRIA can facilitate in process of training students and researchers in community-based and participatory research, by collaborating with various academic institutions. Dr. Tandon also shared as to how universities and colleges can contribute to social change and development at all levels, if they start taking their social responsibility function seriously. He mentioned that PRIA, in collaboration with academia and the policy sector can play a catalytic role in making this mission a success.
Mr. P.P Soti, member, State Planning Commission stressed that attitudinal & behavioural change need to be initiated at individual level which will then lead to a transformed society. Mr. Sunil Kumar in his address shared that all academic institutions should be linked with local government bodies starting from municipalities by emphasizing on the local issues and challenges. Equally important was to sharing of research findings which could improve the governmental schemes and facilitate the planning process further.
Further, the open discussion session saw the faculty of social studies sharing about their research on sanitation; the faculty of engineering mentioning about their challenges such as lack of availability of information on planning and no proper training on design. The participants urged PRIA to play a vital role in facilitating in participatory research and also expressed interest in working along to bring about the much desired social change.