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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.

Next Story

Government Should Focus on More Effective Growth-Oriented Policy Framing in India

The caveat is that cash flow mismatches must be avoided. For instance, excessive debt servicing costs during production ramp-up periods when incoming cashflows for a utility business are low can render even suitable projects unviable.

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Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, announced in 2011 that he had formed the privately funded Stratolaunch. Pixabay

It is crucial for the government to keep pushing towards more effective growth-oriented policy framing and implementation in India.

The focus must be on creating both “hard” and “soft” infrastructure while facilitating effective debt usage. Hard infrastructure must see a continuation of the progress seen in areas such as highway construction and the gradual increase in participation of deep-pocketed institutional investors in owning assets. Soft infrastructure pertains to assets that help create demand for hard infrastructure assets.

Airline businesses would be an example of soft infrastructure that is so essential for robust demand for airport assets. Ensuring that both hard and soft infrastructure asset creation pick up further pace is vital.

The need to push along with creating new hard infrastructure assets such as airports, highways, energy generation & distribution etc. is evident given the trend of higher consumption. The critical aspect that needs to be kept in mind is a “sustainable” path of creation is much more likely to deliver long-term benefits than a rapid approach with pitfalls along the way.

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One of the crucial linkages between efficient creation and operation of both hard and soft infrastructure is optimal debt usage.Pixabay

In layman’s terms, effective project planning, efficient project implementation and prudent usage of debt funding in the hard infrastructure creation process will be of vital importance.

In the recent past, active participation by capital-rich large institutional investors in the highways and renewable energy sector in India shows the demand for such assets. That said, the two Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) highway auctions by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are symbolic that investors will be aware of both asset price and quality. While the first TOT auction saw a winning bid that was much higher than expected, the second auction had to be cancelled since the highest bid wasn’t where the NHAI expected the bid price to be. The key takeaway is that investors would be discerning regarding asset quality and pricing. The government must make sure that the investment momentum sustains while learning a few lessons from the TOT auctions.

Creating soft infrastructure is as important as creating hard infrastructure. Soft infrastructure are assets that perhaps do not fit the traditional definition of infrastructure assets but are essential pillars of economic growth, primarily as soft infrastructure such as airlines create demand for hard infrastructure assets such as airports.

The recent turmoil in the airline sector further emphasises the need to create policies that help boost the sector. While it is true that any industry is subject to the travails of the business cycle, and this is especially true for airline businesses, it is also essential that all steps from a policy perspective are taken to ensure that the sector can thrive. A vibrant airline sector translates into greater usage for airport assets, thereby boosting the demand for airport infrastructure. Higher demand for airport infrastructure from the investment community can hopefully translate into a robust infrastructure creation pipeline for the sector.

One of the crucial linkages between efficient creation and operation of both hard and soft infrastructure is optimal debt usage. It is important to note that debt in itself is only as good as its usage, implying that prudent use of debt for businesses delivers value for the ecosystem. On the contrary, excessive debt usage, especially for businesses unsuitable for debt usage can lead to results that aren’t suitable.

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Therefore, debt usage within the context of both the cashflow profile of the industry and cashflow matching is an essential cog in the wheel to ensure economic expansion. Pixabay

The assertion that “capital structure risk must be inversely proportional to business risk” is one that merits attention. The statement mentioned above implies that debt is more useful for businesses that have access to steady cash flows as opposed to companies that have higher variability of cash flows. So, in general, a utility business would be more suitable for debt usage than say a retail business. The caveat is that cash flow mismatches must be avoided. For instance, excessive debt servicing costs during production ramp-up periods when incoming cashflows for a utility business are low can render even suitable projects unviable.

Also Read: New York Takes Drastic Steps to Prevent Spread of Measles Outbreak

Therefore, debt usage within the context of both the cashflow profile of the industry and cashflow matching is an essential cog in the wheel to ensure economic expansion. Measures such as effective bankruptcy regulations and prudent lending that ensure better debt usage must be encouraged even further.

The linkage between hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure and optimal debt usage is an essential one especially in the context of India’s need to expedite infrastructure creation, boost economic growth and create jobs. A renewed focus on infrastructure building and the linkages is the need of the hour. (IANS)