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Entrepreneurship Holds The Key To the Next Growth Story

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By Praloy Majumder and Ashish Kumar Singh:

Over 4 million Indians join the labour force every year. And with many young people coming in every month, the question on everyone’s mind is if there will be enough jobs for them.

The first stage of economic growth was driven by the discovery of steam engine followed by a second round of economic growth in the USA. The third round of economic growth was driven by the market economy post-World War II. All the previous three phases of economic growth was driven by the developed nations. However, this fourth round of economic growth would be driven by Asian countries, and hings will be fundamentally different. The question, however, is if India (and other Asian countries) are ready to change their way of seeing things

During previous rounds of economic growth, population and natural resources were not constraints. Today, developed nations are at an advantage, because of the capital formation of first and second round of economic growth. Social security was not a problem as the population at the time was not large. Due to the presence of social security network (in the form of unemployment allowances and other measures) the income disparity was not a severe problem. However, all of that is changing with an increasing amount of unemployment even in the developed countries. Now imagine the situation in a country like India. Income inequality is a major problem due to the absence of a proper social security network, as well as a strong, effective judicial system. Here, crony capitalism has increased the economic disparity too a great extent, disrupting the social fabric of the countries which would drive global growth. If left unaddressed, this problem could turn into a monster.

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The fundamental ways to reduce the income inequality is to increase the income for a large number of people by creating more jobs. At the same time, we must grapple with the fact that the world has moved towards embracing automation in a big way. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and robotics threatens lower-level jobs. These lower-level of jobs are crucial to generating sufficient employment for a large workforce, made up of people who do not have specialised skills, and pale in comparison to AI and robotics.

Entrepreneurship is one of the possible solutions to this problems. If more and more entrepreneurs are created, then more and more jobs will follow. However, entrepreneurship creation is a serious business even on a small scale, and today the requirement is on a massive scale.

To achieve this objective, we must have a methodical approach. This is not just a question of providing wage employment, but creating an entrepreneurial society, working towards the solution of employment-related problems. Several factors play important roles in developing entrepreneurship in a country, and identifying these is of crucial importance. In India, for example, the caste-class-religion nexus may or may not play a crucial role in a specific sector. Gender also becomes an important factor. Others include government rules and regulations, availability of funds, training, nurturing and incubation.

The “National Knowledge Commission Report to the Nation 2006–09” has two chapters worth mentioning. Emphasising the importance of Vocational Education and Training (VET), the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) consulted with different stakeholders to provide some short- and long-term strategies. The report suggested the formation of the National Institute for Vocational Education Planning and Development, under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The report also suggested finding links between mainstream education and VET, which, to some extent, seems to be currently fulfilled by National Skill Development scheme.

The demand for both skilled and unskilled labour has increased in recent years. The report says that in order to have sufficient supply of labour, the government should take innovative steps such as distance training, decentralized delivery, and public-private partnerships. A focused approach is required to enhance the training options for the unorganized and informal sector. The report provides various recommendations for strengthening the existing institutional infrastructure of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training Centres (ITCs). The report further recommends the formation of an independent regulatory agency. This means providing a license to accreditation agencies and prescribing standards for certification. While talking about the current certification system the report asks for more efficient means, probably electronic identification as well.

The NKC report in its chapter on entrepreneurship states that it is important to recognize the importance and significance of entrepreneurship in wealth creation and employment generation in India. To accelerate its growth, the report recommends creating a supportive business environment by simplifying processes, curbing corruption, and improving delivery time. Establishing newer institutional mechanisms to rebuild the structure and ambiance required for the growth of entrepreneurship in India. Facilitating information flow is also crucial to this process. There should be an increased awareness of and emphasis on providing early stage finance. For entrepreneurship, seed capital plays a key role, and the report recommends developing new institutions and instruments for start-up funding. The role of business incubation before market entry is considered a primary factor, which also affects the success and viability of an enterprise. And last but not least, the report suggests that successful entrepreneurs be recognise and rewarded.

While at the societal level, the majority of India faces challenges on an everyday basis. Having a possibility of income generation (or regular income) may not solve all the problems, but it can certainly reduce the pressure. Entrepreneurship today is neither limited to being a characteristic of a certain class or merely a buzzword in roundtables. There is much to do in this direction.

As Ejaz Ghani puts it, “The two most consistent policy factors that predict overall entrepreneurship in a district are its local education levels and the quality of local physical infrastructure. […] The future of jobs remains positive, given that India is starting from a low base in entrepreneurship. India’s strength in entrepreneurship lies in its small enterprises. They are now well integrated with global supply chains. Last but not least, women-headed entrepreneurship will become the new driver of job growth in the future. The policy message on entrepreneurship and job growth is simple. Local governments wanting to promote pro-entrepreneurial growth should focus less on firm-casing—attracting large mature firms from somewhere else—and focus more on encouraging entrepreneurship in their community. This link between entrepreneurship and job growth is not automatic. Places with a higher level of local education and better quality of local infrastructure will attract many more entrepreneurs and create many more jobs.

It needs a meticulous approach with proper checks and balances in place.

Praloy Majumder is Founder and CEO of Disseminare Consulting and a visiting faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. Email id-
Ashish Kumar Singh is a Doctoral Candidate of Political Science at Higher School of Economics, Moscow. Prior to that, he has studied in Oslo, Mumbai, and Delhi. He can be contacted at
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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