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Summer 2019

Summer Diaries: Rakshak Foundation

August 21, 2019
- Roshan Kumar

Brief description of my project

My Internship was in the field of Public policy research and I was working on the project “Happy Village (Mangal Gram)”. I got the opportunity to work with the Happiness Department, Govt of Madhya Pradesh which is the first of its kind in India.

About the Rakshak Foundation program

Rakshak Foundation is an organization based in California which helps in channeling the desire in you to make a positive impact in the lives of countless others. These are people you might never get to know in your lifetime. Rakshak provides insight into high-level issues, their interconnection and long term effects on society. You have a choice to submit a project proposal to start on something you want to change, work with a project which is in progress, or help with research on public policy issues. The vision of this organization can be summarized with a quote from former US President Franklin D Roosevelt, ‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’

This Internship gives ample opportunities to students coming from diverse educational backgrounds. From my experience, I can tell you that, as an engineer, you’ll come across numerous instances where your technical knowledge will be required to derive a solution to the problems you come across.

The number of choices you get, and the domain you want to spend your next two months in, are limitless. From improving quality of life-infrastructure, traffic, pollution, and basic necessities, to improving accountability, efficiency, and transparency of public offices and to developing mobile applications, software & web applications for creative social applications, there are no limits.

In the program, you’ll be mentored by an IAS Officer or a person with equivalent caliber. In the end, if your work is good enough, you will get an opportunity to publish a journal on it.

Application process

The selection process involves resume shortlisting and then 1 Interview round. For the Resume shortlisting, highlighting your contribution to public issues and your engagement with social activities will help you in clearing the first round. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan(UBA), National Service Scheme(NSS), Child Right & You(CRY) or any of your technical projects through which you made an impact on society will help you through this round. The second round can be seen as a micro version of the Civil Services interview round. I’ll substantiate further. Since this organization comes for on-campus internship in the 1st week of February, you’ll have enough time to zero-in on probable career choices you are going to pursue. It is extremely important to be specific about what you want from this internship opportunity and how you will utilize this experience further in your life. Reason being, Public policy research is quite different from regular Internship opportunities available on the campus. If you feel that working under bureaucrats in Government institutions on any public issue will help you in the near future, you are ready to go into the less traveled path. For improving your chances of selection, stress more on the preparation of the Interview round. In the interview, you will be asked about your opinion on the contemporary issues of India. Make sure you know the pros and cons of major government initiatives. Keep yourself updated regarding current affairs either through the newspaper or other sources. This will help you in forming opinions there.

How I made it to there

Initially, I applied to some core companies like ITC, Reliance, BAJAJ, but couldn’t make it there. By November, after deliberating on my career plan, I decided to go with the Internship at Rakshak Foundation or BHEL. In the resume shortlisting, my activities at Unnat Bharat Abhiyan made up most of my portfolios apart from my DRDO internship. In the Interview round, apart from some common interview questions, I was asked these 7 questions:

  1. Explain any 5 Government Plan/Scheme.

  2. Which plan do you think will not give desirable results and what are some corrective actions to make it work?

  3. What are the major issues of your state and what steps should be taken to address them?

  4. Elaborate Ayushman Bharat Yojana.

  5. Five pros and five cons of E-learning.

  6. Three benefits of Dowry systems.

  7. What do you expect from Rakshak Foundation Internship program and how it’ll help you in the future?

If you get selected in the Internship program, you’ll be asked to choose a project and prepare an action plan for its execution. This is the most critical decision in this Internship so make it wisely by deliberating on your strengths and weaknesses. You need to choose a project which you can put your brain into and are not a novice at because of two reasons. First being that you cannot always expect your mentor to be around in case you are stuck. He is an IAS officer and has a tight schedule. He’ll not be available to take your calls sometimes for a week. You need to make it through yourself. The second reason is that you are designing a policy/framework and presenting it to a person who has more than two decades of experience in it. You’ll let slip 2 months of golden experience out of your hand if you choose a project in which you are not a pro. The Mentor can’t and will not help you in that case due to lack of time. Moreover, if you want to implement your policies and test its efficacy, you will have the support of someone responsible for a District. You can take the help of the whole District Administration and Machinery to implement it.

My field of research

My area of research was on Public Policy that would be used to make a Happy Village (Mangal Gram). The idea was envisioned by my mentor, Mr. Manohar Dubey, Commissioner of Sagar, Government of Madhya Pradesh. The project was divided into four parts. First I had to do a detailed study of tools/techniques used by Happiness Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh. Then I had to improve on the techniques to make it more relevant to the village scenario. The second part was to guide and help the team comprised of trained village youths in sensitizing the village residents about the tools and techniques to bring happiness and inner development in them by organizing Gram Sabha type meeting. The third part was to develop a community feeling among villagers by resolving their conflicts. The fourth part was to use the volunteerism attitude thus developed due to community feeling for citizen-driven development. The twist in the story came out when I got to know that Caste discrimination and Purdah system was prevalent in the villages in which I was trying to implement the policy designed.

The working hours were flexible but the timing of engagement was according to the need of the project. I had to dedicate 6 hours almost every day. Moreover, I was provided with a Government vehicle for the field visit. I was provided accommodation at the Circuit House of Chhatarpur and my neighbor was an SDM! There were frequent Administrative meetings of the SDM, DM, and Commissioners. Attending those meetings gave me opportunities to observe governance closely. Every morning, I used to deliberate on various issues of the project I was working on and several other things apart from that.

The best part of the experience was the 8 hour long ride with my mentor at the very end of my Internship period. We visited the best tourist spots in Bhopal. That 8 hours one-to-one conversation gave me a great insight into the mindset of a person who is so important for the country.

Talking about the place, Chhatarpur was once ruled by Maharaja Chhatrasal. One of my favorite movies ‘Bajirao Mastani’ is based on the love story of his daughter, Mastani. The Gulganj fort of Maharaja Chhatarsal is still well maintained. The epitome of art and sculpture, ‘Khajuraho Temple’ is not very far from this place.


With my Mentor IAS Manohar Dubey and the Happiness Department team.

Summing up and key takeaways

I got to understand the intricacies of public policies by performing a long study in one such field. It has helped me to broaden my horizons and gain a lot of perspective towards public policy and social issues. I learned many things about the legal and social aspects of governance. The Internship challenged my command on the soft skills as I had to interact with a diverse set of people, ranging from a villager to the Governor. Yes, I met with the Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Mrs. Anandiben Patel. After getting impressed with my work, my mentor gave me the opportunity to present my work to her. That was the best reward I could get.

In the end, I came out with a Journal and an experience worth cherishing.