Students Initiative for Integrated Rural Development (SIIRD) was born in 2006 when a few undergraduate students of IIT Roorkee with a desire to work in the area of rural development approached Prof. V.K. Nangia (Head, Dept. of Management Studies, IIT Roorkee) who sensitized the students with the problems and challenges faced by rural India and encouraged them to address the issues in an innovative manner.
The initiative is based in ‘CHARBA’, a village in Dehradun district. Progress of work under this project has made significant impact on the village, as is evident from the award of Best Gram Sabha in India among 403 districts and Best Gram Sabha of Uttarakhand by JPRA Dehradun (Jila Panchayat Rajya Adhikari).
The initiatives taken by SIIRD in the village are demand driven. Till date 7 initiatives- Information and Communication Technologies, Girls Education, Health Initiatives, Employability, Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Young Champions Program have been taken.
According to Yash Jain, Student Head of SIIRD, currently 30 students are part of this project under the guidance of Prof. V.K. Nangia, Dr. Rajat Agrawal and Prof. H. K. Verma of IIT Roorkee. Despite academic rigor and tight work schedules of IIT Roorkee, students voluntarily visit Charba every weekend. They have been successful in developing healthy relations with the villagers and have identified some of the villagers as champions. Champions are the villagers who help increase the operational efficiency of SIIRD and help in attaining sustainability by looking after the work in their absence. Apart from work, they help students by providing a place to live during night and food in a place where one could hardly find a restaurant or a hotel.
Features of the Integrated Model for SIIRD
- Integration with existing projects – SIIRD integrated with e-Governance Project of Prof. H.K. Verma, Deputy Director of IIT Roorkee. It installed 3 Information Kiosks in Charba where Uttara Portal provides villagers with basic information on weather, competitive examinations etc., charging only a nominal amount.
- Integration with CSR programs of Corporates – After creating Information & Communication Technology awareness through door to door and mass demonstrations, SIIRD with help from IIT Roorkee and Infosys Foundation arranged donation of 16 and 15 computers respectively for 4 primary schools of Charba.
- Integration with Government schemes – In integration with Sarva Sikhsa Abhiyan, SIIRD launched Teacher’s Computer Training Program. IIT Roorkee students designed a basic computer course material. The course was taught to the primary school teachers so that they could teach the students and make system self-sustainable.
- Integration with autonomous education institution - For setting up library in the Inter-college and Middle high school in Charba, SIIRD team members visited ABN School and St. Monfort School in Roorkee and motivated the students to donate 350 and 150 books respectively.
- Integration with industry – To meet the erratic power supply in the primary schools of Charba, SIIRD integrated its renewable energy initiative with JNNSM and Gensol Consultants Pvt. Ltd. to provide 90% subsidy and seed capital respectively for 20 KW solar panel systems which are to be installed in 4 primary schools of Charba. Earlier in collaboration with CII, Uttarakhand Employability initiative was launched in Charba
- Integration with Govt. Bodies - SIIRD collaborated with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dhakrani (near Dehradun) and organized the 1st Agricultural camp in Charba. In the camp, the gathering was made aware of the new techniques used in growing Vegetables generating higher cash returns. A total of 60 farmers were benefitted with this camp.
- With the aim of solving health problems in the village, SIIRD integrated with LHMC, NRHM, RSBY, Directorate of AYUSH, Uttarakhand; Directorate of Homeopathy, Uttarakhand and Red Cross Society Uttarakhand and CMO`s of Dehradun and Sahaspur, and organized health camps. 3 Health Camps have already been organized. A total of 1066 patients have been treated.
- International collaboration – SIIRD is collaborated with Acara Institute, USA. One of the team comprising SIIRD students and students from University of Minnesota devised a business plan called ‘BioServe’ focussed on introducing plastic biogas plants in Charba and won the Acara Challenge 2010. Acara has also funded “Myrain” (one of the finalist team which also has students from SIIRD) with 10,000 USD to install drip irrigation systems in the village. Acara Challenge 2011 was once again won by the student team of SIIRD which collaborated with Duke University, named ‘Ankur Initiative’ which aims at providing an affordable solution of Polytunnel systems.
- Towards sustainability – SIIRD initiated Young Champions Program (YCP) with the aim of replicating the student model group in Charba. The students of Inter College, Charba, were identified as young champions after a series of demonstrations and awareness camp. A team of 13 girls and 7 boys has been formed. This model group is being mentored to understand the model of SIIRD.
Source of Funding
SIIRD was under the umbrella of “National Competitiveness in Knowledge Economy Project” awarded to Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee by Dept. of Information Technology, Government of India. The tenure of this project ended in March 2011 and currently SIIRD is in the process of fund raising.
“Currently we are managing on our ex-SIIRDians donation fund. Moreover, we require very less funds as we work on an integrated approach. Funds are mainly used for travelling and other petty expenses of students”, says Yash Jain.
Future Action Plan
SIIRD plans to promote and propagate this student driven industry-academia-government-society collaborative model for rural development in other academic institutions of India. The present aim of SIIRD is to continue work in Charba and make it a self-sustaining village and then extend the scope of work in the nearby areas of Charba through the Young Champions team.
We wish SIIRD will continue sensitizing the students of IIT Roorkee and other institutions by organizing awareness programs, carrying forward the 165 year old legacy of IIT Roorkee`s contribution to national development.