Market-Driven Vocational Training

The concept of vocational training usually brings forth images of ITI classrooms filled with relevant machinery for learning technical skills – with the one catch that those technical skills may not be relevant for the Indian market. A Livemint.com article reports on an encouraging development in government that will create new courses that are actually market-driven.

Sources in the Ministry of Human Resource Development said that the fresh programmes range from ‘refrigeration´ and ‘applied psychology´ to ‘foreign trade exchange´.

Foreign trade exchange? Definitely relevant in today’s globalized world. The new programs will be rolled out under the Eleventh Plan, and may be worth looking into if an organization works on employment or education initiatives.

If you are interested in learning more about the government’s plan, take a look at the report from the Working Group on Skill Development and Vocational Training, published in 2006.

Who let the Dogs out?

The folks at LiveMint have a radical idea to address the stray dog problem in the Indian cities – Privatize them! [Via India Uncut]

The fundamental problem is that stray dogs are “public property”, which creates what economists call “negative externality”. Those who feed and pamper the dogs while benefiting from wagging tails and warm cuddles are not held responsible for the nuisance dogs inflict on other citizens.

What is the way ahead? Privatize stray dogs. The municipalities of India’s metropolises should put stray dogs on sale. Animal rights activists and dog lovers are free to buy and own the canines as pets. They shall be held legally liable for damages their pets inflict on others

Very intriguing and compelling argument. I’m just worried about enforceability of such an idea. But, I’m sure its worth a try.

Assam benefits from SHG initiatives

Self Help Groups, or SHGs as they are better known, have come to be accepted in India as a potent means of empowering people who are suck on the wrong side of the poverty line – with special emphasis on rural women. SHGs, typically, consist of a group of 15-20 people who come together with the objective of creating a financial cushion in times of individual or collective exigencies. SHGs also promote independent thinking and inculcate a sense of responsibility since the money and effort involved belong to the members themselves.

Assam is the latest example where SHGs are fostering a silent revolution, as reported by livemint.

The primary aim of setting up SHGs was to address the problem of rural unemployment, remove disillusionment among youth and bring them back to mainstream from the path of militancy, he said. Moreover, gradually the young and educated unemployed rural population are equipping themselves to take up income generating activities by organising themselves into SHGs, Gogoi said.

The article quotes a survey conducted by Nanda Talukdar Foundation to point out that Upper Assam has benefited more from the state government initiative even though the actual intent was to benefit Lower Assam. Further reading of the article brings to front the need for increased planning and study of demographics to ensure that resources are targeted properly and benefit more people with lesser wastage.

While you are still at this post, you may want to read this report on “SHGs in India”. Though a couple of years old, it is educating nevertheless.

Editor’s Note: This post was a contribution of one of our readers, Aishwarya Mishra. Aishwarya has been working in the software industry for close to 4 years. He is passionate about writing and more importantly, working on social issues. You can read his personal views at http://wheredoiblog.blogspot.com and help in his efforts on http://targetingtheroots.blogspot.com

If you want to write a post on ThinkChange India, drop us a word at info@thinkchangeindia.org

Using Regulation to promote Social Business: The case of IRDA

Livemint reports that India’s insurance companies (private and state-owned) are expanding rapidly in rural markets, and have topped the IRDA’s mandatory rural targets.

Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) is Government of India body set-up to regulate the insurance sector, which has gone through significant liberalization in the last decade. IRDA has continuously emphasized the importance of covering under-served markets, especially in rural areas and has established strict annual rural sales targets for companies. Turns out companies see this mandate as an opportunity:

An analysis of data from seven life insurers for 2007-08 (data from previous years was not made available by the companies) accounting for at least 80% of the market, reveals that all of them topped their individual targets laid down by Irda. The targets vary every year.

Significantly, insurance firms did even better in terms of their so-called social sector objectives. The “rural business“ of these firms includes policies sold to both rich and poor people in rural areas. “Social business” includes only the number of policies sold to poor and
economically backward people.

Clearly, access to insurance products would provide much needed economic stability to the rural poor. It can be argued that IRDA is a example of a unique model – using regulatory mechanisms to promote ‘social business’. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also has pursued a similar strategy, by mandating cellphone companies to focus on rural markets. Of course, we have covered the social impact of cellphones in this space before.

[Graphic Credit: Livemint]

Indian VCs struggle to find green tech investments

Livemint reports that while the many is ready and waiting, sufficiently appealing opportunities are not coming across venture capitalists’ desks.

“We are keen on investing in this segment but are not able to zero in on the kind of companies that would interest us enough. As a venture capital firm, we are looking at defensible innovations and execution skills, but there have not been any so far,” says Alok Mittal, managing director, Canaan Partners.

The rest of the article can be found here.