New Delhi: The Prime Minister`s Rural Development Fellowship Scheme, launched about two years ago, will now come tagged with a two-year degree programme in rural development practices from the ensuing batch.
The programme will be of three-year duration, one year of which will require a student to engage with the National Rural Livelihood Mission, said Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Launching the selection process for the second batch here today, he told reporters that the coverage of the scheme is also being extended to the northeast in addition to the 80-odd Naxal-affected districts.
The programme entails a student to work with district collectors closely in improving effectiveness of development programmes in rural areas.
The other aim of the scheme is to build students as a cadre of development facilitators, who will be available as a ready resource for rural development activities over a long term.
The scheme provides a stipend of Rs 75,000 to the successful candidates, further enhanced by 10 per cent in the second year.
Under the revamped scheme, 140 fellows will be selected, Ramesh said, adding, 15 per cent of the fellowships will be reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates.
"This is because the targeted districts have large concentration of schedule tribe population," he said. About 9,000 applications were received when the scheme was launched and 156 fellows were selected.
The two-year degree programme which will be offered to the fellows from the coming session will be imparted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Plans are afoot to enable the first batch fellows to enrol in the degree programme. Ramesh said his ministry will tie-up with IIT Bombay to support five rural development fellows and extend funding to the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) Ahmedabad with the end objective of creating a pool of talented human resource for taking forward the development initiative in rural India.