Thursday, 15 January 2015

Transforming India One Institution at a Time: NITI Aayog, Sandesh One and Career Centres

January 15, 2015 is the festival of Pongal a harvest festival celebrated the first day of the Tamil Lunar month of Thai which coincides with the sun’s northward movement (uttarayan). This is preceded by Boghi or Lohri which is symbolic of discarding unnecessary clutter. Pongal is symbolic of new beginnings and in a previous regime was celebrated as the Tamil New Year as well. I give this prelude because both the New Year and the Harvest Festival (also celebrated in North India as Makar Sankranti) has been full of new beginnings for the Indian national and state governments. Some of the initiatives and institutions look to kickstart double-digit growth of the Indian economy by strengthening the nation’s rural and unorganised sectors. 

Announced last year (July 14, 2014) and revived today (Jan 15, 2015) is the Career Centre programme.

“The Modi government decided to transform employment exchanges into career centres to connect youth with job opportunities in a transparent and effective manner.”

As per National Skill Development Agency data, 7,500,000 people were given skill development training in 2013-14. It is estimated that the revamping of this nationwide network will reboot the opportunities available to the unemployed and newly qualified. 

This is not the only change. Last year the Planning Commission which was set up in March 1950 through a Cabinet Resolution, was scrapped in August 2014 by the Modi Government. On the very first day of the New Year it was announced that the body replacing the commission is the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.

On January 13th 2015, Arvind Panagariya, former head of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a Columbia University economics professor took over as the NITI Aayog’s vice-chairperson. Panagariya has market-friendly views and is a protégé of well-known trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati (who delivered the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on January 13, 2015) and contested Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s favoured model of wealth distribution over economic growth.
The institution has the prime minister as chairperson and a Governing Council comprising of State Chief Ministers and Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories. It plans to adopt a Bharatiya approach to development. The CEO is Sindhushree Khullar, with two full-time members, four ex-officio members (Union ministers) and three special invitees for the Aayog. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief V K Saraswat were appointed full-time members. Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu and Radha Mohan Singh are ex-officio members while Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Irani and Thawar Chand Gehlot are special invitees.
The Aayog will
  •   formulate policies and direction for the Government,
  •   recommend a national agenda,
  • outline strategic and technical advice on elements of policy and economic matter
  • create a roadmap to aggregate and scale up mechanisms for village-level development plans.
Another exciting innovating in the state side is Kerala’s women entrepreneur-led Sandesh One centres: “A first-of-its-kind public-private partnership (PPP) social enterprise … to develop a network of trained women entrepreneurs.”

Kerala the first Indian state to attain and maintain 100% literacy is taking the lead in women empowerment via the Kerala State Women's Development Corporation (KSWDC), an organisation under Kerala's Department of Social Justice. 

The Sandesh One launched on January 12, 2015, is KSWDC’s brainchild like Kudumbashree – a community-based poverty reduction project – and the self-explanatory She Taxi.
As per the Sandesh One project one woman will be selected from each of the over 1,000 panchayats in Kerala for undergoing six-month residential training programme at IIM Ahmedabad in entrepreneurship. The syllabus has been customised by IL and FS Skills, one of the largest skill development companies in India.  The training will aim at developing and improving entrepreneurial skills and knowledge management in addition to a product orientation programme to get familiarised with the products and services offered by the Sandesh One network.

'Sandesh One' centres are to be set up in every local body in Kerala with the pilots launched in five districts- Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Alappuzha and Kottyam.

Goals of the centre includes:
  • Large-scale employment generation opportunities at the grassroots level
  • developing solutions for pressing societal challenges
  •  micro-entrepreneurial “technology solutions to interested entrepreneurs and help them start enterprises in areas such as high-tech agriculture, preventive healthcare, water management, waste management, renewable energy, deforestation and others interventions that can positively influence the society and improve the quality of lives.”
  • KSWDC which will facilitate loans, provide PR support and tie-ups with other stakeholders.
  • IIM Ahmedabad, IL&FS, several institutions, including top B-schools, trade associations and about 20 solution providers coordinated by 'Alterneit' are partnering with groundbreaking initiative.
Thus the New Year and the month for new beginnings bring forth many programmes with the aim of “Transforming India.” Here’s wishing them all great success in their noble endeavours!


Two pages on there was a report of his rival Jagdish Bhagawati's talk in Delhi:

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