Published: Thursday, 5 October 2017 16:08 PM
MICAns EMBARK ON RURAL IMMERSION PROGRAMME
As a part of the curriculum at MICA, students recently embarked on a rural immersion program in different parts of the country. The rural immersion program aims to educate the students about various grassroot level issues faced by villagers and gives them a platform to interact and engage with organisations working towards the betterment of these communities. The programme also has secondary benefits, wherein the students acclimatize to rural life and learn how people in villages function. The aim of the course is to create a knowledge base for students to understand and embark on rural marketing efforts, as the industry is shifting their focus towards Tier II, Tier III cities and rural areas.
This year MICA tied up with multiple organisations like SEWA, Jaipur Rugs, UNICEF, Adani Foundation, Swades Foundation and others. The students were given branding and communication projects and required to stay in rural settings for two weeks.
Jaipur Rugs, one of the organisations partnering with MICA, is India’s largest manufacturer of hand-knotted rugs, with weavers settled across the state of Rajasthan in small villages. 10 groups of students were allocated villages in the Dhanota district of Rajasthan where they were instructed to observe and understand the lives of the weavers, live amongst them and become one with the community. The experience brought forward many issues faced by these weavers and MICAns were tasked with coming up with creative solutions to these problems. Some of the projects revolved around understanding the lives of the ‘bunkar-sakhis’ and translating the same to end consumers of the company’s rugs while others required MICAns to suggest ideas for a perfect retail store and rebrand their latest weaver engagement program ‘Artisan Originals’ where weavers break out of the mass market designs and create carpets out of their imagination.
The Swades Foundation also participated in the Rural Immersion Programme, releasing a project wherein students were asked to design communication strategy aimed at creating awareness about anaemia which can lead to behavioural change for preventing anaemia in Poladpur of Raigadh district of Maharashtra. Students visited around 50 households and 4 schools for the research, interviewing students, mothers and the community at large. They were even awarded an opportunity to present their ideas to the senior management team and trustee founder.
The projects in collaboration with SEWA required formulation of marketing and communication strategies for their AirBnB listed homestay property at the Bakutra village in Patan district. The homestay project of SEWA, titled thoughtfully Hum Sab Ek Hain, seeks to provide an alternate source of income to the thousands of women associated with the women empowerment organisation. The project not only helped the students understand the scope of a homestay and tourist interests in and around the Patan district which included UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Rani ki Vav, the Sun Temple at Mother, the Little Rann of Kutch and the 5000 years old IVC site of Dholavira, but also the nuances of the hospitality sector and the challenges faced by the homestay owners like Gauri Ben (in pic) at the grassroots level. The students worked in collaboration with the local stakeholder at the Radhanpur office of SEWA to come up with a sustainable and implementable solution for the hard working women undertaking this endeavour.
UNICEF also partnered with MICA, giving the students a wide array of projects to choose from. One of the projects entailed studying the new changes brought by UNICEF in traditional early child education in Bhavnagar under Baldarshan Project, which involved qualitative research with aanganvadi workers. Another project dealt with eradication of child marriage through adolescent empowerment. The students interacted with adolescents who have formed groups in the village to help prevent child marriages. They also talked to adolescent girls who were married as children and have since stepped out of their marriages.These groups of adolescent boys and adolescent girls have been formed by UNICEF and their partner NGO, Anarde, in the Banaskantha district of Gujarat where child marriage still exists. As their deliverables some groups had to submit video documentaries and reports and present to Government officials.
The faculty-in-charge for the same, Prof. Mini Mathur says, “"Rural immersion at MICA is a small step towards sensitizing budding marketers to understand rural India. Lower overall resources, but strength in terms of pooling resources, confidence, love and respect, is what our students witnessed in rural immersion. As against the earlier model of open immersion, we worked closely with 11 prominent organisations working independently or supporting government initiatives in villages across India"
Speaking on behalf of his batchmates, Ayan Bairoliya said, “This course is an icing on the cake of the MICA curriculum and I am grateful to all the people and organisation involved in it to make the entire program one of the most relevant learning process during our PGP course duration.”
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