The Integrated Rural Development (IRD) course at Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence (SSSUHE) is the brainchild of Sadguru Madhusudan Sai's vision. The University designed the course to provide students with exposure to rural life in India and to help create awareness and uplift the rural population.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba once said, "Grama Seva is Rama Seva," emphasizing the significance of serving rural areas. Additionally, Mahatma Gandhi famously stated, "India's 'soul' lives in villages," recognizing that the majority of the Indian population lives in rural areas. With rural development being of utmost importance, the university's leadership board introduced the IRD course in 2018 to strike a balance between practical field experience and theoretical knowledge of rural development.
As part of the IRD program, students choose projects to execute in villages, promoting sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices such as sustainable waste management, drip irrigation, and climate change activities. The students also educate villagers about government initiatives and how they can leverage them to improve their quality of life.
The IRD course at Sri Sathya Sai University for Human Excellence is a compulsory two-credit course spanning three semesters. It is part of the curriculum for all undergraduate programs. The course covers different aspects of rural India and encourages students to come up with innovative ideas and practices for rural development.
Module I is introduced in the fourth semester, covering the concept of rural development, the basic structure of rural India, the background for rural development, and its significance.
Module II, introduced in the fifth semester, builds upon Module I and familiarizes students with various government schemes and provides hands-on experience of how they operate in villages.
Finally, Module III is implemented in the sixth and final semester, where students apply their theoretical knowledge of rural development to practical applications and learn to document their processes and projects officially.