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BW Businessworld

‘Wave Of Entrepreneurship Hitting All States’

The skill development and entrepreneurship secretary feels people should change their mindset, and treat entrepreneurship with respect and dignity

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Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship secretary Rohit Nandan in an exclusive conversation with BW Businessworld outlines various measures being taken by the Narendra Modi government to create a new generation of entrepreneurs. Edited excerpts:

Where does India stand vis-a-vis other countries when it comes to entrepreneurship?
As far as entrepreneurship is concerned, India does not have a very strong tradition. There was a time when there were in the South, communities devoted to entrepreneurship — like the Shettys, Chettiars.

We have been socially segmented into hierarchies; so work was assigned to the communities. The people who were supposed to be traders and business persons, were the only ones into entrepreneurship. Historically and culturally, India to that extent, has been disadvantaged. So, I think that our history has contributed to the suppression of entrepreneurship in this country.

After independence, the opportunities of entrepreneurship were limited to two things — one was manufacturing and the other was trading. Manufacturing was for most of the people, a very risky proposition. Historically and culturally, trading was not for everyone. So people did not look upon trading as a positive exercise.

It is only during the last one decade that the economy has started changing and we have new ways of entrepreneurships. So, there is a type of ownership that we see today in terms of technology, say in Ola, Uber, Paytm or Oyo, which was not in existence more than 10 years ago. Suddenly, the technology and internet in our society have changed the way people look at entrepreneurship. So, many people are now looking at very interesting and innovative methods. Aggregation has become a very important thing, whether in the field of goods or services. That has become a big source of entrepreneurship. So, we now see there is suddenly a blossoming of entrepreneurship in this country.

From various reports, we have also seen that only about 30 per cent of the people in India actually go for entrepreneurship as a matter of choice, rest 70 per cent establish businesses because they have no other options.

Which states are doing well in terms of entrepreneurship?
The states in the south have always been doing well. The states in the west, especially Gujarat and Maharashtra, have always been considered to be entrepreneurial. Similarly, in the east, Delhi and Chandigarh. But now we see that the wave of entrepreneurship is literally hitting all the states. We see good entrepreneurs coming out even from the north-east. Every state is now making an effort and the type of interest that we now see is something amazing.

It’s been close to two years since the ministry was formed. What have been the ministry’s achievements in promoting entrepreneurship?
You have heard of programmes like Startup India, Atal Innovation Mission, Standup India. Such initiatives are now being taken by nearly every department. It is not an exclusive preserve of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. We are the point of convergence, but ultimately every department is making an effort.

We in this department, are now working on a scheme called “Udaymita”. This scheme is going to cover about 5,000 colleges and after sometime, we would be covering about 7.5 lakh young people. For this we are partnering with Romesh Wadhwani of Wadhwani Foundation — one of the biggest Indian entrepreneurs in the US. And this, the foundation has been successfully doing in the US for the past ten years.

It will be launched on 1 January 2017. We are in the process of identifying the colleges, where this can be implemented. We have been getting a healthy response across the country. We want to catch them young. Over a four-year period of interaction with youngsters, we will develop a culture of entrepreneurship in them. If they show signs of entrepreneurship, we will try to connect them with mentors, so they may take them through the final journey and take them to a point where they can establish good businesses.

Many consider your targets for 2022 for skilling young India to be ambitious?
Training 400 million is the target. 1.5 crore people are going to be added to the workforce every year, they are the youngsters. So this is going to be about 10.5 crore, started in 2015, when the mission was launched and the target is 2022. So, in seven years, 10.5 crore people are going to be introduced. It is not at all ambitious. This is the need of the country; it has to be done.

How regularly do you meet the Prime Minister, and PMO officials? The Skill Mission is the PM’s brainchild after all…
The mission is headed by the PM and as far as I understand, it is the only mission that the PM himself heads. He takes a keen interest in it. As far as the document is concerned, we are supposed to meet the PM and brief him. He is supposed to head the meeting of the mission every six months, which he has been doing regularly. The next one will be due sometime in December. The last one was in June.

The PMO continuously monitors on behalf of the PM. Our interaction with the PMO is extremely intense. The PMO is extremely involved in the entire exercise of skilling.

Modern skill centres will also be set up in each district by March 2017. Would you like to throw some light on them?
It is a difficult exercise in the sense that we have to go through a process of selection and a process of procurement. In the first exercise, we were able to identify 267 successful bidders and that was to cover about 267 districts. Recently in the last 15-20 days, we have been able to identify 90 more. So, today about 356 districts have already been allotted to the successful bidders and the exercise is currently on. Thirteen have already been operationalised and we expect that by December, about 200 will be operationalised and about another 300 by March.

There are at least 70 schemes related to skills. How do you integrate them all?
The ministry was formed basically to provide a common platform to lay down the standards. We have been successful in doing that in two ways.

Firstly, from 1 April 2014, the common norms have been implemented across all the departments. So therefore, all the departments are bound together in a common thread through the common norms. Secondly, the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) has been defined by the government. All departments have got to see that their training confirms to the standards laid down by the NSQF. Now this exercise is done in a general way in all the departments. Just a couple of departments are left out. We hope by December we will be able to complete that. So now there is commonality.

We are also trying to bring about some integration in the assessment. Ultimately, you have got to see that the person you have trained is good enough or not. As of today, the entire assessment framework is segmented. So there are about 200 agencies that are doing the assessment, 40 sector skill councils that are doing the assessment and there is NCVT (National Council of Vocational Training).

Now we have decided we will integrate all this. The note for the establishment of the National Skill Certification Board is already doing the rounds and going through inter-ministerial consultation. We hope that by March, we will be able to have a single board. We shall assess the various candidates being paid by various departments on one single protocol and therefore, we will be able to have one single certificate for the country, which we plan to designate as the India Skill Certificate. So that will bring about a tremendous amount of integration.

The ministry is mandated with skilling India and fostering the culture of entrepreneurship. Do you think that we need to lay more emphasis on the entrepreneurship part?
Yes, this year we have decided that all training or skill training will necessarily include a component of entrepreneurship. So, if a person is taught for 200 hours, there would be certain number of hours that would be assigned for entrepreneurship. So every student, every trainee that goes through our system will necessarily be trained in entrepreneurship as well. Not all of them are going to become entrepreneurs. What we have decided is that in his first week of induction into any training, he shall be given some understanding of entrepreneurship. The seeds should be sown right in the beginning.

Then over the next three months or over the year, when he is undergoing training, the seeds can actually germinate and people at the end of the training might decide they do not want a job but want to start something of their own. So we have got a cell in every training providers office, we shall guide people as far as establishment of the business is concerned. So we will try to connect them with the banks as well, invite bankers to talk to these people and we will also try to connect them with the mentors.

So now all the people who are going to be trained in this country under the system of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna and the ITI system will necessarily have a component of entrepreneurship.

What are the challenges that you are facing in fostering a culture of entrepreneurship?
It is entirely a mindset problem that many people still do not treat entrepreneurship with respect and dignity. Second, is the risk of failure. People think that if a person has established something and not succeeded, then they are a failure — this is a mindset that we have to remove. But we now have so many models that are successful, sprouting all over the system like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Oyo, Paytms and I think this younger generation is becoming more and more enthusiastic and impatient about entrepreneurship.

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