[Kurukshetra December Summary] Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth – Explained, pointwise

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Youth are the growth engine of any economy and India has the relative advantage of youth population with a share of 34.33 percent of the total population. As per India’s Census, the total youth population increased from 168 million in 1971 to 422 million in 2011. So, fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth is essential to meet their aspirations and achieve inclusive growth.

Youth Population in India Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth

Source: Kurukshetra

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Why India has to focus on Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth?

Knowledge and education are key factors to the full and effective participation of youth in the process of social, economic and political development.

Youth employment is now a top priority in most countries across all regions and efforts need to be further accelerated in this post COVID era to negate the ill effects of this period.

Agriculture in India needs youth to sustain farming and youth need non-farm employment opportunities to meet their aspirations and lifestyle. As 90% of agricultural workers in India have no formal training, they require skills for respectable employability.

As the majority of the youth in the rural areas are engaged in agriculture, there is a need to equip them with skills blended with new technologies like Big Data analytics, Supply Chain/market-linked model, Internet of Things (loT) in agriculture.

Note: The Government of India has taken several initiatives to boost support to the agri-startups. These include, 

Blend of education and Skills increases the ability to innovate and helps in adopting new technologies. Innovations increase and bring diversity to the skills and opportunities.

Enhance Rural entrepreneurship: Through innovation, several startups are not only challenging the dominance of established corporate but are also providing easier and innovative solutions to several emerging problems. So by skilling youth, India can ensure a practical approach and creative ways to solve regional issues in a variety of sectors with cost-effective models.

For example, Arunachalam Muruganantham from Coimbatore popularly known as ‘Padman‘, invented low-cost sanitary pad making machines. He has generated tremendous local employment and social impact.

Promote India’s culture and diversity: For example, In the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh, roadside amenities – ‘She Haat‘ have been created which includes a shop, a restaurant, a guest room and a ‘kaushal vikas kendra‘ in a single complex, which is being run by a self-help group of 25 women. It provides a glimpse of the State’s culture, cuisine and tradition.

Similarly, the state government of Telangana has established ‘Telangana State Innovation Cell‘ which aims to promote grassroots innovation and has supported noteworthy rural-origin businesses like Vishwaja Reddy’s HiCode and has reached all 33 districts of the State.

What are the government initiatives to foster Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Youth?

National Skill Development Policy, 2009: The policy aims to enhance the availability of a skilled workforce in the country.

National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015: The primary objective of this policy is to meet the challenge of skilling at a higher scale, requisite quality and sustainability.

Creation of separate Ministry: A separate Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created in 2014 for coordination of all skill development efforts across the country, removal of disconnect between demand and supply, building the vocational and technical training, ensuring skill up-gradation and innovative thinking, etc.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC): It acts as a catalyst in skill development by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training and it works with 267 training partners. Over the past 4 years, NSDC along with its partners have produced over 2 million skilled people in more than 25 sectors.

Skill India Mission: Under it, the government is implementing more than 40 skill development schemes/programmes across 20 Central ministries/departments, for providing a variety of skill development training programmes on a pan India basis. 556.1 lakh persons have been trained so far.

Other initiatives: The other programmes such as Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya-Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), MGNREGA and other such initiatives are aided by agencies like Directorate General of Training (DGT), National Skill Development Agency(NSDA), National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), etc.

Few Important government schemes to foster Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Youth

National Rural Livelihood Mission – Ajeevika Skills

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)

Read more: Ministry of Skill Development launches a project to upskill the cane and bamboo artisans of Nagaland
What are the challenges faced in developing Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth?

1. Access to training and Insufficient training capacity: For instance, nearly 90% of agricultural workers in India have no formal training. Further, the training was not sufficient to ensure a job for those who got the training, 2. The wide gap between the availability and demand of skilled workforce, 3. Training institutes have low industry interface, 4. Rapidly changing technology, 5. Lack of Initiatives from the industry.

AGNIi (Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations)

The AGNIi (Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations) is a programme of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and a Mission under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). It is also called as National Technology Commercialization Program.

The Mission remains committed to introducing emerging technologies in rural India to address the complex and unique challenges.

The AGNIi Mission, in partnership with Common Service Center, successfully conducted a series of Digital Technology Showcases focused on innovations for rural India. It identified 7 key technologies which reaffirmed capability of Indian innovations to tackle local challenges in villages. These include,

‘Dharashakti‘ is easy-to-use soil organic carbon detection and testing kit which can help the farmers in optimum use of fertilisers.

Soil Saathi‘ is a lightweight chemistry analyzer with the ability to test 22  parameters in soil and water and advise fertilizer requirements based on crop and agro-climatic conditions.

Tan90‘ is a portable cold storage unit to plug the gaps in cold chain which can help to reduce post-harvest losses in crops.

Saptkrishi‘ is also a low-cost, technological solution that extends the shelf life of perishable horticultural produce.

Krishakti‘ is smart and intelligent precision spraying drone for crops and can
drastically reduce the indiscriminate sprays of pesticides.

THANOS‘ is also a drone-based autonomous spraying platform that sprays an acre in a fraction of the time uniformly.

Avatar Small Wind Turbine‘ are wind turbines and can be deployed as  decentralised and distributed renewable energy solutions for urban and rural

What are the required steps to foster Innovation and Entrepreneurial Skills among Rural Youth?

-Startups play a crucial role in promoting innovations in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which help to diversify skills and employment. So, the government has to further accelerate the startup ecosystem in the country.

-Increased attention is required to improve participation rates of young people, particularly of rural and marginalised.

Blend our crop production techniques with technological innovations: For instance, technologies like Big Data analytics, IoT, are the primary sub-sectors where Agri startups are emerging.

-Craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans in rural India effectively need greater acknowledgement for its novel creations and need greater financial and promotional support.

-Ensure the deployment and decentralisation of AGNIi (Accelerating Growth of New India’s Innovations) technologies and missions.

With funding, promotion of local talent and fillip to the culture of innovation, the incubator boom concentrated on villages and smaller towns can create huge demand for skills and employment in rural areas.

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