Following is an excerpt from Tactical Reflection Sheet dated June 25, 2020. This was Deepak V’s last reflection at Indus Action. All the actioners reflect on the week that went by every Thursday in the Tactical Reflection Sheet and it is sacrosanct to us. Every week there are different sets of questions but the objective remains the same: reflection and deep-diving into the week that went by. It also gives us the opportunity to share all the opportunities and obstacles in the past week and a platform for everyone to support each other.
This will be my last post as a Policy Action Fellow at Indus Action. From travelling to Delhi for a F2F interview with the senior management in February 2019 to joining the firm 4 months later and having completed a year of working, it has been a journey of crests and troughs.
Prominent experiences/learnings that I would like to highlight are as follows:
My first assignment was to formulate a Social Inclusion Instrument (SII), which may be used as a reference point for evaluating educational institutions. In addition to extensively researching (which is admittedly my Achilles heel) on psychometric assessments and social inclusion studies, I also had the opportunity to brainstorm with interested individuals and subject-matter experts, who critiqued drafts of the SII structure. I remember being nervous while moderating my first discussion simply because I was overawed by the presence of seasoned participants (myself being a novice in the social sciences). This experience taught (reminded?) me that one doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert to curate meaningful learning spaces for others (akin to news anchors !)
My tryst with the School Readiness Programme began in late June 2019 and a year later, I am still involved in this project! As per the fellowship structure, I was to leave the project by December 2019 but here I am. It has been a pleasure working with the state teams (Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, and very briefly with Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh). During the state check-ins*, I would have the privilege to listen to real-life stories about parents, anganwadi teachers, supervisors, and children. Comparing notes across states provided fresh ideas and more importantly, instilled hope and faith during difficult times. In addition to collaborating with state teams, building a Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) framework for the programme and analyzing data gave me a sense of contentment (relived my Mu Sigma days). I would like to thank Chris for introducing me to the world of Early Childhood Development.
During this time, I got to know the team really well and was able to form friendships in the Delhi office. Malayalam movies and sumptuous Kerala cuisine made for many enjoyable weekends.
In Picture: Deepak inducted to the ‘Malayali gang’ at Indus Action. Dated September 3, 2019.
Onboarding J-PAL and scheduling initial conversations with Samina Bano (although it didn’t quite work out in the end) were a test of my ‘partnerships’ acumen. I am grateful for the experiences.
The Delhi weather was not kind by any measure and so, I was absolutely elated when I learned about my relocation to Bengaluru. Working with Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Child Rights Trust and the Department of Women and Child Development was memorable, to say the least. I shall also (fondly) remember that late-night phone call with Yogananda Sir (RTE STUPA) and brief interactions with the Education Minister and Chief Secretary of Karnataka. And none of this would have been possible without the state team – Mahua, Rajatha and Bhargavi Ma’am have been a delight to work with.
I was asked to take up the Uber engagement sometime around December 2019. This ambitious project gave me a flavor of end-to-end project accountability, vendor management, and client relations. Thankful to Cecil, Mayurdhar, Anjan and the state leads for their support.
I received my first taste of the highly regarded on-ground RTE campaign operations when I visited Uttarakhand in February 2020. I’d definitely recommend experiencing the campaign trail, at least once, during one’s stay in Indus Action. It gave me space to interact closely with block education officials and our target citizens. The complex citizen-state relationship, smeared with different hues of grey, played before my eyes. It was enlightening. This is certainly an episode where I received much more than my own contributions. Happy to have closely worked with Samyuktha during this period. Hitesh’s prior campaign experience was handy while planning small-scale, customized interventions.
In Picture: Deepak providing a helping hand to the Uttarakhand Team for RTE Campaign** 2020. Dated February 23, 2020.
My last 3-month stint consisted of building and managing COVID-19 helplines for multiple Child Rights Commissions as well as cold-emailing prospective funders & partners. It was impactful, sometimes monotonous but necessary nevertheless.
I had the privilege of working with many individuals during my time here and I would like to personally thank each and every one of them. As I transition out of Indus Action and look forward to my next adventure, the policy action fellowship will serve as a reminder of what I can learn; of what I can achieve, in a single year.
Friends, till we meet again next time, take care.
*Check-in: One-on-One conversation between managers and managees; peers or any other conversation among two individuals( and sometimes three or more individuals) to discuss and deliberate updates, next steps, and any other important point related to a project or task. Check-ins can happen bi-weekly, weekly, fortnightly, or at any other frequency as agreed upon by the concerned individuals.
**Campaign: 100-day sprints to drive urgency within Government systems and internal ways of working. In these 100 days, actioners push themselves in a non-stop manner to increase the outcomes of the system manifolds.