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Bengal model for Bangla exposure visit

In a narrow bylane deep inside Thakurpukur, an organisation is working hard to establish friendly relations between West Bengal and Bangladesh, through cross-cultural exchanges and knowledge-sharing. Indian Institute of Training and Development (IITD), a Calcutta-based NGO, will play host to 35 Bangladeshi representatives, including government officials and social workers of NGOs, for five days this week.

As the delegates arrived on Tuesday, by land and air, the stage was set for the first phase in the evening — an interactive session on ‘Decentralisation and Good Governance: West Bengal Experience’, with IAS officers.

The training sessions, from October 21 to 25, will focus on rural government, from gram panchayat to zilla parishad level. Organised by IITD, in collaboration with Bangladesh-based NGOs BRAC and Shushilan, the “exposure visit” is supported by the Asian Development Bank

Issues to be covered include women’s empowerment, community participation, relationship between elected panchayat representatives and government officials, gender sensitisation, access of residents to resources and development initiatives of the panchayat with other departments, like agriculture, health, family planning and education. Field visits are an essential part of the programme.

On Day II of the exercise, the group, along with IITD officers, will travel to Kalyani to visit the State Institute of Panchayat and Rural Development, to discuss some topics essential to good governance. On Thursday, the plan involves moving on to Paschim Midnapore for meetings with a sabhapati and the district magistrate, as well as seeing and discussing the inner workings of the panchayat samity and gram panchayat.

Saturday is the closing ceremony, before which the participants will get a chance to interact with government officials, to learn some more and give their feedback. “The aim is to give them an idea as to how rural governments work at the grassroots level, by using our state as an example,” explains Jnan Prokash Poddar, director, IITD.

The NGO conducts regular training sessions, on subjects like health, micro credit and NGO management, for professionals and others, Indians and foreigners. The nominal fees include training by professionals, lodging and food.

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