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Adopting a Holistic Approach towards Rural Development

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  • Published
    27th Jan, 2021
  • India is well known globally for its rapidly growing digital prowess, technological capabilities and its innovative spirit. With over 55000+ startups, 400+ incubators and over 34 Unicorns, the country is rightly being perceived as one of the fastest growing Startup nations of the world.
  • India also enjoys a demographic dividend that is the envy of many a country with over 65 percent of its population under 35 yearsover 70 percent of the population of India are in Tier-2, Tier-3, cities and in rural agri dominant India. Over 70 percent of the formal and informal Labour workforce of India is associated with the micro, small and medium enterprises of rural India
  • In USA, startups are creating more new job opportunities per year as compared to the jobs generated by established firms. In Israel, unemployment rate tumbled from 9 percent in 2000s to 5.5 percent in 2010s due to newly established firms growing at 23 percent in that period. In contrast, Japan has lost its significance in the growing global economy due to stagnation in entrepreneurial activity.
  • In 1800s, Prussians came up with the idea of a 'factory model of education'. The factory model of education states that the schools are built to train the future factory workers and that the students should essentially be trained to become efficient factory workers.
  • Inspired by this the Industrial Revolution aimed at "manufacturing" employable workers for the huge pool of opportunities that had opened by the Industrial Revolution. The focus then was to create as many human resources as possible to meet the gap in demand and supply of labour.
  • This model created a huge impact in the way Industrial revolution prospered and was propelled over the years, and thus lead the growth of economies.
  • Today, we are in a world which is ideating and innovating constantly, and this has been the driving force for both economies and countries., This can be seen via the advent of numerous startups and innovators which are driving creation of jobs and up-skilling among the youth. In United States of America, startups are creating pace with rapidly changing trends and digital capabilities of technology.
  • The time thus has come to focus on building sustainable technology driven plans and approaches to drive the Indian economy to leapfrog towards the 5 trillion-dollar economy goal; with the right push towards creating more job creators and better job seekers this can be achieved.

Delivering Quality Education

  • New Education Policy (NEP) 2020: The NEP strives to make us realise the importance of experiential learning through technology driven practical education and also emphasises on the importance of developing relevant skillsets for an agile world that we live in today.
  • The demographic dividend is on our side and we must focus on building experiential model of learning for the school kids.
  • Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) by Atal Innovation mission, NITI Aayog: Atal Tinkering Labs are state of the art labs created in schools where children are introduced to new emerging technology toolkits.
  • These toolkits are miniaturised electronics devices, 3D printers, sensors, Robotics, Arduino kits etc. There is also a year-round teacher training program which is run to equip the school teachers with the right skill set and introduce them to the new technologies.

Developing Youth as Change Makers

  • There has been low penetration of the self-employment and start-up ecosystem in the rural, Tier III and Tier IV cities of the country and an even lower penetration of the understanding of the SDGs.
  • India is a big market and provides a lot of opportunities. We should now focus on providing an institutional based structure to these young innovators and support them.
  • There has to be a focused approach in spreading awareness about the SDGs and showcasing the solutions created by the local youth to the community leaders thus igniting more minds and making them drive the needed change.
  • One such effort is being done by the Atal Innovation Mission of NM Aayog by establishing Atal Community Innovation Centres (ACICs) in the underserved/unserved regions of the country. These ACICs will focus on creating awareness about the SDGs and focus on providing young innovators with an opportunity to grow and make a difference.
  • A similar effort is to be carried out by creating a rural community youth fellowship program focusing on harnessing the talent of a young innovator and creating a viable solution to a local SDG challenge. Such a program would be highly beneficial in a Tier II and III city, rural areas or areas that traditionally do not have a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is also imperative that this fellowship program is strongly supported by a Public Private Partnerships (PPP)

Digital Push and Transformation of the Agrarian Economy

  1. Farm mechanisationand creation of sustainable value chains has been a pain point that not many innovators have been able to solve. The farm to fork model is complex and has challenges that the startups and rural India is still struggling to solve as a whole.
  2. Role of Startups:
    1. The Startups can provide the farmers with quality seeds, technology driven irrigation and precision agriculture mechanisms, water conservation, and demand forecast based market opportunities in the pre-harvesting phase.
    2. They can support the farmers by providing them with technology driven solutions for quick harvesting and with proper storage facilities.
    3. The startups can provide the farmers a direct market linkage or may decide to become the buyer of the farm product.
    4. The startup and the farmers can also enter into an agreement to make a value-added product from the farm product and sell the product in the market together.

All these efforts stated shall not only be beneficial for the holistic development of the rural economy today but also will have a sustainable future for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat that can serve the world.


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