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Skill Development conference in Chicago area by Indian Consulate

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Panel Discussion on “Skill Development Programme in India: Opportunities for
American Organisations” held by Indian Consulate. 

Here are the highlights:

  1. The Consulate General of India, Chicago in partnership with the US India Chamber of
    Commerce – Midwest, Chicago hosted a Panel Discussion on “Skill Development Program in India: Opportunities for American Organizations” on Monday, March 28, 2016 at
    Naperville, Illinois. The event was attended by nearly fifty leading business persons and
    entrepreneurs working in different sectors of economy in the US-Midwest, besides officials of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and members of the Chamber.
  2.  Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General of India in Chicago, delivered a keynote address on Prime Minister’s Skill Development Mission, while presentations were made by Mr. Frank Avila, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) and Mr. Shyam Pappu, Engineer (MWRD) and Dr. Shekhar Mishra, Deputy Project Manager and International Collaboration Coordinator, Fermilab, Chicago. Mr. Krishna Reddy, Managing Director and Mr. K. Naga Prasad, CEO of iDiya Labs, a software company based in Hyderabad, Telangana participated in the panel discussion through webinar. Mr Ajit Pant, President of the US India Chamber of Commerce – Midwest gave an overview of the Chamber and its activities and welcomed the gathering.
  3.  Consul General Dr. Ausaf Sayeed stressed that skills and knowledge are the two driving
    forces for sustainable economic growth and social development for any country. He mentioned that by 2020 India would be the youngest nation in the world in terms of the average age of the population. He said currently India has 650 million youth who are below 25 years of age and this is India’s untapped potential and a ‘demographic dividend’, which could add a significant 2% growth to India’s GDP if the youth are given formal training in skills to make them job ready and become a key driving force of economic growth.
  4.  Consul General gave highlights of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and said that
    it is a flagship programme aimed at increasing the annual skilling capacity from the current level 2 of around 7 million to 500 million by 2022. The Government of India (GOI) is determined to establish at least one skill development centre in each of the 688 districts of India. The target for skill training would be aligned to the demand generated from other GOI flagship programmes like Swachh Bharat, Make in India, Digital India and others. Referring to the possibility of setting up of co-branded ‘Corporate Skill Excellence Centres’ using the public-private partnership mode, the Consul General invited the entrepreneurs, corporates, chambers of commerce and vocational and academic institutions in the US Midwest to whole heartedly participate in the Skill India Development Mission.
  5.  Commissioner Frank Avila emphasized on the need for spreading awareness in India about the proper waste management techniques. He said that waste water can serve as the “next oil” as it has water, energy and fertilizer and can be put to optimum use. Commissioner Frank Avila shared details of his visit to India last month as head of MWRD delegation during which he conducted two workshops on “Innovative and Sustainable Operation and Maintenance of Wastewater Treatment Plants” at Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam, which were very successful. He offered to conclude MoUs between the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Department of Greater Chicago (MWRD) and counterpart Indian institutions for transferring knowledge, skill development and capacity building in the field of waste water management.
  6.  Dr. Shekhar Mishra made a presentation on “Make in India, with High Technology Skill
    developed in India” wherein he shared details about the ongoing collaboration between the
    Fermilab and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which is focused on developing
    technologies and infrastructure in India that would enable utilization of alternative fuels for
    energy, besides having applications for water purification, Medical imaging and cancer therapy.
  7.  Mr. Krishna Reddy, Managing Director and Mr. K. Naga Prasad referred to the healthy
    startup environment in India and said that the recent initiatives taken by GOI have generated
    considerable excitement among the Indian entrepreneurs.
  8. The Panel discussion concluded with an interactive “Question- Answer” session.

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Yaounde Declaration: Africa’s answer to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus

Representatives from over 30 African countries held discussion about Africa's plan to improve roads, provide education and energy in the rural areas

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In this photo taken June 20, 2016, pedestrians shop at a market in Lagos, Nigeria. Source-VOA
  • Experts from over 30 African countries met in Yaounde, Cameroon, for a Forum on Rural Development
  • During the week-long discussions, they devised a plan to control influx of African migrants taking long and perilous journey to Europe and the US, to find work
  • At the end of the discussions, Experts adopted, The Yaounde declaration, which calls for development in rural areas so that the African youth don’t have to make the dangerous trip to Europe for seeking employment

AFRICA, September 11, 2016: Representatives of 30 African countries have been working this week to map out ways to stop the continent’s mass rural exodus at the Forum on Rural Development in Yaounde.

Emmanuel Afessi works on his desktop at Odja center in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, where he is training 30 youths on information technologies at the center he created when he returned from the United States a year ago.

“Africa needs to produce its own knowledge, its own equipment and that is why we want to train people within the continent,” he said. “ICTs help close the gap between the developed and the developing world much faster than any technology including the motor vehicles. It is a large contributor to most African countries GDPs today. Think about just the whole aspects of internet and mobile phone. That is a huge multi-billion dollar market.”

The 33-year-old Afessi says he was unemployed and fled to Paris and then the United States, where he was denied refugee status. He says he could not find work and decided to return home, sell his father’s piece of land, and open the ICT center.

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Afessi was part of Africa’s rapidly growing population of emigrants. The U.N. Refugee Agency reports estimates this year nearly 47,000 migrants have reached Italy, the vast majority of them Sub-Saharan Africans.

A representative of Kenyan civil society organizations at the Forum on Rural Development, Vitalis Abbasi, says many of the migrants are highly educated, but unemployed and are traveling from rural areas in search of opportunities.

“If the roads were good, the energy systems were well, we could also access information and communication technologies, a lot of people will stay in those areas,” said Abbasi. “We could lift people up in those areas by pulling agriculture production up. So once people get a bit more money in their pockets, it is now easier for the rest of the economy to grow because when a lot of rural people have a bit more money in their pockets, even up to $2 per day average, they start consuming industrial goods, also manufacturing our own goods, rather than always depending on importing.”

Experts from 30 African countries adopted what they call the Yaounde declaration that invites Africa to invest more in the rural areas youths are deserting. They say Africa is losing its trained human capital if current trends continue.

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The head of program implementation at the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Estherine Fotabong, says governments should have the political will to create enabling environments for the private sector and civil society groups.

“We still have the majority of Africans living in rural areas, despite the rapid urbanization rates and from different studies the projection is that up to 2035 that will still be the case,” said Fotabong. “We still have most Africans employed in agriculture and we still have lots of land in our rural areas, so why not invest in social amenities, in infrastructure, in better education systems, in industrialization in rural areas so that youths will not see any reason to leave the rural areas to go to the cities.”

The Yaounde declaration is accompanied by a call for action that requests African heads of state to support the implementation of an action plan being developed to stop Africans from having to make the dangerous trip to Europe. (VOA)

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Hamas says, a Woman must have a protector while Driving with a Male Instructor

The Palestinian territory has been under the rule of an Islamist organization, Hamas, since June 2007

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gaza
  • The presence of a chaperone for a female student taking driving lessons from a male instructor in Gaza is essential
  • While this move is largely rejected by most driving schools, a few see this as an opportunity to increase revenue
  • The matter is taken by religious judges, some of whom believe the policy is not necessary

The Gaza Strip that is lodged between the borders of Israel and Egypt, saw the rise of a new debate that revolved around new regulations for driving lessons taken by women. The Palestinian territory has been under the rule of an Islamist organization, Hamas, since June 2007, whose internal intelligence police want to enforce stricter laws regarding women.

According to Hamas police, women must be accompanied by someone while taking driving lessons if their driving instructor happens to be a man. Gaza is nowhere near as strict on Islamic morality issues regarding women as Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is why many driving schools in the strip are appalled by this new development. Driving instructor Mohammed al-Hattab was perplexed when the cops stopped him in the middle of his lessons because he was alone in the car with a woman.

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Experts believe this new development is totally unnecessary because all reputed driving schools in Gaza exercise a compulsory ‘morality test’ before hiring instructors. Moreover, no school will entertain sexual offences from employees since it will largely mar their reputations. Even against this backdrop, Hamas authorities remain stubborn.

A poster "End Hamas Terror". Image: Wikipedia
A poster “End Hamas Terror”. Image: Wikipedia

This new intention for Hamas authorities to follow the tenets of Islam which dictate that every woman in public must be accompanied by her husband or a male family member is surprisingly welcomed by a few driving schools, who have seized this opportunity for improving business. In Gaza, anyone can suffice as a chaperone for driving lessons, and fathers are more willing to send their daughters to learn driving if their safety is ensured. A few women that were interviewed admit they feel more at ease with the presence of an escort if a male instructor is conducting the lessons.

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Religious judges like Hassan al-Juju against the use of the term mahram for something so inconsequential is a ‘driving school’ chaperone, which the Hamas police loosely employ to enforce the policy. They believe it dilutes the holy sentiment that the word represents. Mahram is any man who serves as a guardian for a woman when she embarks on the religious journey to Hajj, and his job is to protect the woman from any predicament.

-by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter:@saurabhbodas96

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Backward Assam Village Heads for Brighter Days

Gone are the days of illiteracy and poor living conditions

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Rani (Assam): Forty-five-year-old Dhaneswar Boro is excited that his days of illiteracy are over. He can now write his name is Assamese and he is gradually getting to know his rights as an Indian citizen.

But it was a bleak story till last year. Life remained stuck in a morass of underdevelopment in Bakrapara village in Rani development block, just 30 km from the state’s main city of Guwahati. However, the winds of change are now blowing, thanks to Guwahati’s NPS International School that has adopted the village as part of its CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiative.

Bakrapara, Assam
Bakrapara, Assam,Image Source: www.thehansindia.com

For decades, Dhaneswar and his fellow villagers here lived without the basic facilities. Their life revolved around cultivating land, fishing and selling the catch in the local market. Many among them earned their living as daily labourers. The developmental schemes of the central and state governments didn’t reach this village, which lies in the Dispur assembly constituency.

The curse of illiteracy passed on from one generation to another- the 70 families here could not afford to send their children to school due to lack of money. The dark shadow of poverty loomed large.

But all that’s in past now, ever since the village was adopted by NPS International School in 2015.

Related article– Barsimaluguri: Story of transformation of an Assam Village

“We adopted the village in 2015 as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility and we are working for the betterment of the living conditions of the people,” NPS International School director J.N. Das told IANS.

“The families here belong to the BPL category and we are training them on alternative livelihood options.

“We have brought in experts to train the villagers on rearing pigs, ducks and chicken, which has benefited them economically,” Das added.

Thanks to the effort, several villagers have now taken up rearing pigs, ducks, goats and chicken, moving away from their traditional occupations.

It’s also changing for the senior villagers, for whom the school organises literacy camps. They are also being trained on health, hygiene and other issues.

The initiative also has an environmental aspect to it — the villagers are being made aware about the hazardous effects of plastic.

“We are telling them about the need to conserve the environment,” Das informed, adding that the the village has been declared a ‘no-plastic zone’ and anyone found dumping plastic and other non-biodegradable waste is slapped with a fine.

The villagers have planted about 100 saplings last year as part of the green initiative.

Das’s claims are endorsed by Dhaneswar. “There have been so many changes here after the NPS School adopted the village. We are learning how to conserve the nature. My wife has been trained on rearing duck and chicken. It is benefiting us economically,” Dhaneswar told IANS.

“Politicians come here only at the time of elections. But now, the days are changing for good. I feel the younger generation will see better days,” chimed in Dipak Basumatary, another villager.

A primary school was set up in the village about 20 years back. The few children who study there now have a chance to interact with their counterparts at the NPS International School.

“These interactions will certainly benefit our children as they will learn a lot of new things,” said Ila Kachari, an elderly village woman, who proudly added that she too can now write her name after participating in the literacy program.

“The village used to be backward. But we are now developing it as a model village. We are ensuring that the villagers participate in all the activities,” Das said. (IANS)