The second mentoring initiative of the NRAS was held alongside the fourth workshop in Allahabad as a step towards fulfilling our aim of influencing the teaching and research taking place in rural and peri-urban institutions on issues pertinent to agrarian and rural change.

The half-day ‘Mentoring Initiative’ for students and teachers in rural and peri-urban universities and local practitioners in/around Allahabad took place on December 20, 2015. Prospective participants had submitted a written paper / research proposal of 1500-2000 words, on the basis of which they were selected. Upon selection, each participant was paired with senior and junior scholars associated with the NRAS. Participants were able to discuss their research ideas, receive one-on-one feedback on their submissions, and discuss concerns related to choosing research methods, field research, publishing, research ethics, revising written work, literature review, scoping their topic, and other issues related to research and publication.

Feedback from participants of the 2 nd workshop
Question: Were you satisfied with the interaction with a mentor today? Did it help you further your research and /or writing skills? In what specific ways?

  1. Yes! There is a dearth of engagement with these issues in the institutional environment I come from. So the first thing was I felt was that there is a community of scholars/activists interested in issues that I feel have fallen out of favour in institutional academia. There were some specific suggestions of readings and possible further research that I received from my
    mentors. I look forward to being in touch with them.
  2. I am more or less satisfied with the interaction. Although it feels such a short interaction would not played that much role but continued interaction would definitely help us as it gives us the first steps. The suggestions given by mentors would definitely help me in producing a good study.
  3. I am satisfied with the mentor’s comment on my research topic and [will] try to define the terms I used in my paper.
  4. Yes, I was able to get specific inputs [on] how to take my study forward.
  5. It was okay but not completely as per my expectations. It helped add on to my list for literature review but did not really help to further refine my research.
  6. Though helped indeed but could have been more interactive. Could manage to get only limited feedback.
  7. Yes, it has, by having me formulate my research interest. And with some suggested readings.
  8. Yes, it helped me with nuanced insight on my proposal. Some suggestions on readings were very helpful and the assurance that we can get back to them was very wonderful.
  9. Yes. It introduced me to look at my concerns at a larger scale and to methods that I could use.
  10. Absolutely, it reinforced my doubts about my own shallow knowledge. The prime objectives and the framing of questions needed have emerged as very valuable feedback.
  11. Yes. It did better than my expectations. It helped me to trim and focus my dissertation
  12. Yes it was. It specifically helped in (a) classifying methodological issues (b) know literature from other disciplines that I was not aware of / familiar with.
  13. I received feedback on my research proposal, which I found useful. In particular, I valued the directions of enquiry which opened up through the mentoring process both conceptually and practically speaking from a fieldwork perspective.
  14. There was some good talk about going in to write a proposal and what you should know at the time, about the importance of evidence etc., there wasn’t any talk on writing skills
  15. Yes, Yes. The following questions were very helpful: a) Questions you are trying to answer – Why? How? b) Where does it fall in the bigger picture/ c) Could you look at the same question in a different manner i.e. question of approach? d) Could / couldn’t you have dug slightly deeper? other regions ? other countries?
  16. I am satisfied with the interaction with a mentor today. This interaction will help me in my study and in future in the area of rural finance.
  17. Yes, I discussed the methodology of my work and have got new dimensions to add.

This time there were several outstation participants from Delhi and Bangalore, who applied to participate in the Mentoring Initiative after hearing about the success of the 1 st Mentoring Initiative. Appended below is feedback from a participant in the 1 st Mentoring Initiative which was held at Bhopal in 2014.

“I can confirm with the greatest sincerity that the Mentoring Initiative at the NRAS last year (2014) was very meaningful for me. I started my PhD in Anthropology in the US this year and while I attended the NRAS last year, I was in the process of applying. Other than the material specific feedback and advice I got on my writing and content, especially from Dr. Balmurli Natarajan and Dr. Satish Deshpande, it was a great opportunity to see how my own interests, research and otherwise engaged with those of others. The mentoring session at the NRAS as well as the other sessions including the diversity of participants was certainly and significantly helpful in determining and assuring me of my project. I must also admit that the ‘network’ at the NRAS itself is very enabling. Along with one of the other participants and mentees, we organised a feedback workshop for our own project in Uttarakhand, where I lived and worked before getting to the US, and we invited some of the people we met at the NRAS, who were relevant to the project’s mandate to attend. Given that Uttarakhand is marginal to institutional research in places like Delhi, this was a fantastic forum for young researchers like us and the NRAS network was one of our helpful resources and references.”

 

Mentors

  1. A.R. Vasavi, Independent Scholar
  2. Balmurli Natrajan, APU, Bangalore
  3. G. Chandraiah, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad
  4. Gitika De, University of Delhi
  5. M. Vijay Baskar, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai
  6. P.S. Vijayshankar, SPS, Bagli, Madhya Pradesh
  7. Rajeswari Raina, NISTADS, New Delhi
  8. Ravindra Karnena, University of Delhi
  9. Richa Kumar, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
  10. Satendra Kumar, G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad
  11. Satish Deshpande, University of Delhi
  12. Shambu Prasad, IRMA, Ahmedabad
  13. Shelley Feldman, Cornell University, USA
  14. Sudeep Basu, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar
  15. Suraj Jacob, APU, Bangalore