Introducing the Realising India Series

The Realising India series have been written and compiled by students of the Post Graduate Programme in Development Leadership (PGP-DL) at the Indian School of Development Management (ISDM). The programme is a unique and pioneering curriculum that takes students through a process of immersion, learning, application, co-creation and reflection.

The PGP-DL is aimed at developing professionally and socially aware, deeply sensitive, reflective managers and leaders for the full spectrum of organisations in the Development Sector including voluntary organisations, corporate social responsibility entities, social enterprises, not-for-profit organisations, foundations and funding groups, social impact investors, etc. Therefore, the curriculum has been carefully designed to provide students with relevant knowledge, opportunities for its contextual application, critical-thinking, problem solving and design abilities, while promoting the importance of collaboration and value-based decision-making.

In Term II of the 50-week PGP-DL, students build an understanding of the ecosystem in which they will work eventually. They are taken through the political and administrative systems in India, the role of the legal system in development, the various actors in the ecosystem etc. Students are exposed to methods and tools for understanding the ecosystem. In this term students prepare for the first of the two immersions as part of the programme journey. The first immersion is called Realising India (RI), and the core objective of this immersion is for students to build a nuanced understanding of the context they will be designing for through rest of the learning programme. The RI is a two week immersion programme in which a team of 7-10 students immerse in the context of a particular district.

The preparatory exercise for this immersion includes secondary research of the district that they would be visiting. Through the analysis of data from secondary research, the students begin to formulate an initial picture of the district and identify emerging questions that they would like to seek answers to from the field.

During the immersion the students apply the methods and tools that they have been taught in first 10 weeks of the programme. Student teams reach out to different stakeholder groups, administrative officers and departmental representatives, as well as elected representatives in the districts. They interact with the people of the district attempting to get a sense of the lives they lead, their joys and challenges. Each team consults with their Bricoleur or learning mentor to explore and establish a comprehensive understanding of the district. The students develop their own itinerary for the RI with guidance and support from ISDM faculty and mentors.

Data emerging from this exploratory, yet systematic immersion is triangulated with the secondary research and then analysed to build a coherent understanding of the district. The secondary literature review together with the lived experiences and immersion during Realising India, helps each team of students put together their district profiles. While there is no prescribed format for the district reports, all groups need to cover a few basic aspects of the district’s realities.

This compilation also has reflective stories from the districts. The reflective stories capture significant memories of each student while she/he was immersed in their district. The stories bring out very interesting aspects that may not be visible in the district reports, often highlighting the intersectionality of issues and social problems.

The district reports should be able to provide its readers an insight into the reality and lived experience of the district. The ISDM team has worked to standardise the reports for ease of access and usability of the reports by development professionals as well as other interested readers.

With each batch of the PGP-DL, we will be adding more reports to the Realising India series and hope that the reports become a great repository for our readers towards building a contextualised understanding of India.

Suparna Diwakar

Dean, Academics and Research

Indian School of Development Management

Disclaimer: The reports are outcomes of student observations and literature review. These do not reflect the opinions or observations of ISDM.