Improving the quality of life for rural people
is key to sustainable development in countries like India, where one-third of the
population lives in villages. At the first International Conference on Rural Management (ICRM), professionals
gathered to share evidence and best practices on topics essential to advancing
rural development in India, such as improved agriculture and better access to health
care and education. The conference, organized on November 23-24, 2017 by the Xavier School of Rural
Management (XSRM) at Xavier University in Bhubaneswar, focused on the overarching
theme “Rural Management for Sustainable Development.”
The ICRM at Xavier University in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India.
The ICRM was designed to explore how the field
of rural management intersects with and underpins efforts toward achieving the United
Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of food security,
health, poverty, inequality, clean energy, peace, justice, and environmental
protection. As the organizational landscape for rural development transforms, well-established
and traditional practices are increasingly giving way to innovative and
emerging practices. To systematically and critically consider this evolution,
the conference provided an avenue for luminaries to present their papers and
cases on innovative practices in a variety of areas related to rural development
About 85 professionals attended the event from various
organizations, including the Odisha State Government’s Department of
Agriculture and Department of Rural Development, the International Food Policy
Research Institute (IFPRI), the Indian Institute for Rural Management, the Tata
Sustainability Group, and Gram Vikas. TCI-TARINA was also invited to speak
during a panel session on “Social and Economic Perspectives of Development.” As
the Program Coordinator and Gender & Nutrition Specialist for TCI-TARINA, I
attended the session to deliver a presentation on the problem of malnutrition
in Odisha, as well as the need for a multisector approach to achieve the SDG World
Health Assembly (WHA) targets for better nutrition.
Dr. Shubh Swain delivering a presentation during a panel session at the ICRM.
upon evidence from India’s recent National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), the
presentation showed the high prevalence of undernutrition among children and
women in Odisha (stunting 34.1%, wasting 20.4%, anemia among women 51%), and
how the burden is greater among the rural population than the urban population.
I explained the trend and pattern of the indicators targeted by WHA to achieve
better nutritional health. I also explained the gap between the current average
annual rate of reduction (AARR) and the required AARR, as well as the gap
between the current average annual rate of increase (AARI) and the required AARI for select nutrition-related indicators. The
discussion pointed toward the need to accelerate the efficacy of programs and
possible mechanisms in addressing undernutrition in Odisha.
During the presentation, I emphasized how
existing service delivery platforms used by different sectors like agriculture,
food, health, gender, and education can be leveraged to address undernutrition
more effectively through a nutrition-sensitive approach. Other panelists supported
this call for a multisectoral approach to achieve SDG targets related to rural
By Dr. Shubh Swain
Dr. Shubh Swain (email@example.com) is the Program Coordinator and Gender & Nutrition Specialist for TCI-TAIRNA.