KOLKATA, 26 July 2017: Through capacity building activities and skill enhancement, the West Bengal Government has been able to instill self-belief among thousands of rural women who are engaged in a wide variety of work – be it doing handicrafts, weaving kantha or producing food products or engagement in the traditional agri and allied sectors.
This was stated by Ms Choten D Lama, State Mission Director and CEO of the West Bengal State Rural Livelihoods Mission under the Panchayat and Rural Development Department, West Bengal, at the Skills Conclave organized by CII here today.
Drawing a lesson from the SHG movement in the state in which more than 5.3 million poor women are members, she highlighted that through the matching of expectations and aspirations of various stakeholders in the area of credit linkage for rural poor women, a model has been evolved which has made it possible to effect a very significant growth in the access of credit from the formal banking sector by these women who are engaged in various activities aimed at improving their incomes and livelihood opportunities.
From Rs 600-plus cr in 2012-13, since the launching of this initiative in 2015-16, the SHG credit linkage has grown in the past two years to Rs 2012 and to Rs 3400 crores. The target for 2017-18 is Rs 5,003 cr of credit, Ms Lama said.
She also requested CII to work alongside the state government and make sure these talented women receive top-notch skill training, acquire marketing acumen and gain wider market linkages. “With some handholding, they can be a new model in entrepreneurship,” Ms Lama said, adding that the state government has taken up a slew of projects, primarily aimed at generating jobs for women living in villages.
Ms Lama also stated that all stakeholders in the skills sector must come together and work together to ensure that we can reap the demographic dividends of our nation's youthful workforce.
She added that there has been a sea change in the way the bureaucracy functions, especially in the skills ecosystem and the focus of the West Bengal government is definitely its citizens and service delivery to them.
Communication and sharing between various players in the skills sector will support the establishment of an environment of mutual trust and respect and help in ironing out implementation challenges, she said, adding that these exchanges will also help in bringing about government policies which will be beneficial to all.
While highlighting the funds now available for CSR activities by industries, as per the law, Ms Lama stated that projects which focus on the development of HR whether it be engagement with schools or higher level educational institutions must be given a priority.
Mr Jayant Krishna, Executive Director & COO, National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), too, observed that West Bengal holds a huge potential. “Budgetary outlays have been substantially increased and a lot of work is happening. However, a lot of work remains to be done as well,” he said.
Mr Krishna also underscored the importance of skills and startups. In his view, the current skill building exercise in India is the largest human resources development initiative ever taken in the history of humankind.
“And for that, the country greatly owes it to CII. I must extol CII for spearheading the India @75 initiative,” Mr Krishna said, adding that India has the potential to become the skills capital of the world.
Mr Krishna also struck a note of caution, saying unless “we skill and employ a large number of young people” there could be a “demographic disaster”.
As to India’s 9th position in terms of GDP, he said while this is a significant achievement, India has a lot of distance to cover when it comes to its ranking in per capita income or human development index. Speaking about the National Skills Qualification framework, he said it has imparted both vertical and horizontal mobility. He also spoke about NSDC catalyzing the formation of 40 Sector Skills Councils.
Mr Ravi Todi, Chairman, CII Eastern Region Family Business Sub-Committee & Director, BTL EPC Ltd, complimented the West Bengal Government for having taken steps to boost the skilling ecosystem in the state by launching of ‘Utkarsh Bangla’ with an aim to skill 12 lakh people in two years.
“In the current year’s budget Government of West Bengal has allocated Rs. 781 Crore to the Technical Education, Training and Skill Development Department for the next financial year. The need of the hour thus is to synergize the efforts and resources to provide a feasible platform for vocational education and skill development. The ideal way forward will be to seek partnerships that will strengthen the process of quality and inclusive education, Mr Todi said.
Mr Subir Chaki, Past Chairman, CII West Bengal State Council & Wholetime Director, McNally Sayajee Engineering Ltd, delivered the Vote of Thanks.