Our vision is to give a formal and sustainable shape to the idea of a field/discipline called Development Practice and to emerge as a research, documentation, capacity building, and reflection site for the developmental sector scholars and agents, engaged with issues like rural livelihoods, education, governance and health.
The Centre for Development Practice is also expected to serve as a nucleus to deepen and further AUD’s engagement with social development and to give the country a new cadre of professionals trained in rural transformational skills that would help fulfill the bottom-up version of the Indian developmental dream.
‘Development’ as a concept has multiple connotations and the complexity of its many contours and trajectories have become an area of intense contestation in the social sciences and in what has now come to be known as the ‘developmental sector’. Further, the idea and practice of development in India has been largely constructed in terms of the discourses of European modernity. Needless to say, the practice of development has failed to address the lived experiences and the livelihoods-health-education-governance issues of a large segment of the Indian rural poor since independence. This does not mean that developmental initiatives of the Sate and the non-State sector has not made any change in the lives of the rural poor; but such changes, fostered in by primarily mainstream notions of development, have not been sustained, deep-rooted and participatory, especially when it comes to poverty alleviation, cultural and political empowerment, and self-determination. The ‘rural’, even if in transition, continue to be seen as ‘backward’ and ‘under-developed’.
The MPhil in Development Practice through (a) an examination of (i) the unexamined ‘underdevelopment of the rural’ and the (ii) equally unexamined ‘royal road to Development’, and (b) the setting up of a long-term and intimate relationship with the rural through a ten-month immersion-based-learning in rural contexts wishes to give birth to a Development Sector Professional who would have the capacity to initiate transformative social action in rural India. The MPhil programme co-hosted by an University and by a reputed development sector agent, PRADAN is an attempt to introduce each year into the development sector a cohort of 25 developmental professionals imbued with alternative visions of development and innovative grassroots level action plans borne out of (i) a critical engagement with theories of development, (ii) rural immersion, (iii) practice-based learning, (iv) self-reflection and (v) engaged scholarship.