Yagya Datt Sharma

  • published Webinar Social Entrepreneurship in Latest News 2020-06-16 22:32:26 -0400

    Live Webinar On Social Entrepreneurship



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    Speakers

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    Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande
     

    President & Chairman

    @Sparta Group LLC

    Mr. Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande is a Trustee of the Deshpande Foundation along with his wife Jaishree. He is also the President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, a family investment office and is also the Chairman of Tejas Networks.

    Dr. Deshpande has pursued an entrepreneurial career for the last three decades. He is involved either as the founder, a founding investor or chairman of several companies including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Coral Networks, Tejas Networks, Cimaron, Webdialogs, Airvana, Sandstone Capital, A123 Systems and Curata. Dr. Deshpande lives in Boston and serves as a life-member of the MIT Corporation, and his support has made possible MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.

    The Deshpande Foundation strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation. Leveraging the experience gained at the MIT Center, the Deshpande Foundation has facilitated the setup of five other centers; Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India, EforAll (formerly known as the Merrimack Valley Sandbox) in Lowell/Lawrence Massachusetts, the PondDeshpande Center at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, the Dunin Deshpande Queens Innovation Center at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and the Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India. Deshpande Foundation also provided the founding grant for MassChallenge in Boston, National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the UPOP program at MIT.

    Dr. Deshpande holds a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, an M.E. from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and Ph.D. from Queens University in Canada. Deshpande co-chaired the National Council to support President Obama's innovation and entrepreneurship strategy from 2010 to 2015.

     

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    JAYANTI S. RAVI
     

    Principal Secretary & Commissioner,

    @Government of India (Gujarat)

    Ms. JAYANTI S. RAVI is a scientist, civil servant, writer, speaker, educator, performing vocalist and thinker. With a master's degree in nuclear physics from the University of Madras, an MPA from Harvard University and a PhD in e-governance, she has authored books, published in international journals, guided doctoral students and also been a visiting faculty at Harvard University. Her professional experience includes serving as DDO in Sabarkantha, as collector in Panchmahals and as director of the National Advisory Council with the Prime Minister's Office.

    As principal secretary and commissioner, rural development, Gujarat, she has championed the Swachh Bharat Mission for rural sanitation in the state. Her innovative and creative multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving has led to major transformational outcomes across various sectors. Presently, she serves in Gujarat as the principal secretary and commissioner, health and family welfare.

    Rajat Gupta
     

    Chairman

    @WHEELS Global Foundation

    Mr. Rajat Gupta is Chairman of WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF), and serves on its board as a key strategist in defining direction and focus of the non-profit organization. Mr. Gupta brings his considerable skills to WGF, along with his leadership associations and advisory roles to many other non-profits such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

    Mr. Rajat Gupta is a leading Indian-American businessman and Philanthropist who has co-founded successful world class institutions including Indian School of Business(ISB), American India Foundation(AIF), New Silk Route and Scandent Solutions. He was ranked 15th in the nation in the entrance exam for the Indian Institutes of Technology, IIT JEE. He received a Bachelor of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-Delhi) in 1971 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1973.

    Mr. Gupta joined McKinsey & Company in 1973 as one of the earliest Indian-Americans at the eminent consulting company. In 1994, he was elected the firm’s first managing director (chief executive) born outside of the US, and then was re-elected twice in 1997 and 2000. Mr. Gupta is widely regarded as one of the first Indians to successfully break through the glass ceiling, as the first Indian-born CEO of a multinational corporation (not just a consultancy). During Mr. Gupta’s tenure as head of McKinsey, the firm opened offices in 23 new countries and doubled its consultant base to 891 partners, increasing revenue 280 percent to $3.4 billion.

     

    Webinar Recording

     

    How Each One Can Make a Difference in the World?

    Webinar on Social Entrepreneurship : How Each One Can Make a Difference in the World? A Dialogue among Mr. Gururaj 'Desh' Deshpande, President and Chairman @Sparta Group LLC , Dr. Jayanti Ravi , Principal Secretary and Commissioner @Government of India, Gujarat & Mr. Rajat Gupta, Chairman of WHEELS , Indian-American businessman and Philanthropist who has co-founded successful world class institutions including Indian School of Business(ISB), served on the board of several top multi-national companies like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs etc. 📋 "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago" - Warren Buffett

    Posted by WHEELS Global Foundation on Friday, June 26, 2020


  • FREE Live Webinar : Post Covid Realities: Challenges & Opportunities for Industry and Services



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    Webinar Recording:

    Posted by WHEELS Global Foundation on Friday, May 29, 2020

    Webinar Speakers:

    Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee is the Director General of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). CII is India’s apex industry organisation, proactively enhancing the competitiveness of Indian industry.

    Mr. Banerjee has been with the CII for 32 years and has served as its Director General since 2008. In this post, he is responsible for the overall operations of CII. Prior to his appointment as Director General, Mr Banerjee held several senior positions in CII in key areas including sectoral verticals of Manufacturing, Services, Agriculture and Life Sciences as well as the SME sector. He has also led CII’s policy work relating to macroeconomic policy, financial services and corporate governance. He was the first Executive Director of the National Foundation of Corporate Governance (NFCG), an organization set up by the Government of India and continues to be Member of its Board of Trustees and Governing Council. He also initiated the Center of Excellence of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association (IMTMA) in Bangalore, a state-of-the-art center for training, conventions and trade fairs.

    He holds / has held Trusteeship and Board Member posts in many institutions:

    · CII Foundation

    · India@75 Foundation

    · Institute of Economic Growth (IEG)

    · Global Innovation and Technology Alliance (GITA)

    · Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST)

    · Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM)

    · World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council of India

    · Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC)

    · Indian Institute of Management (IIM)

    · Vice Chairman of the Asia Pacific Chapter of UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

    He is a Member of the Managing Committee of SPORTSCOM and Governing Council Member of Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC). He is also a Director on the Board at the “Invest India” set up by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Mr Banerjee is also a Director in the Singapore India Partnership Foundation (SIPF). He is also secretary for bilateral CEOs Forums constituted by the Government of India with Australia, France, Russia, Canada, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Japan, Sweden, and South Africa, among others.He has been honored with the China-India Friendship Award by the Chinese Premier for his contributions towards the development of bilateral ties between India and China.

    Mr. Banerjee has been conferred with the decoration of “Knight Commander” by His Majesty the King of Spain in recognition of his meritorious achievements and exceptional contributions towards promoting relations between India and Spain.He has been honoured with D. Phil Honoris Causa from Amity University. He is a Post-Graduate (MS) in Economics with specialization in Economics of Planning and Econometrics from the University of Calcutta. Earlier, he did his Graduation from St. Xavier's College (Calcutta) in Economics (Hons). With 68 offices, including 9 Centers of Excellence, in India, and 11 overseas offices in Australia, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, South Africa, UAE, UK, and USA, as well as institutional partnerships with 394 counterpart organizations in 133 countries, CII serves as a reference point for Indian industry and the international business community.

     

    Mr. Ashank Desai, Founder and Ex-Chairman of Mastek, is the chief architect in catapulting Mastek into the top 20 software companies in India.

    He is a leading light of the IT industry in India. He is the founder member and ex-President of National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). He has also been the Vice President of ASOCIO (Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation) and is the only Indian to be presented with the Honorable Contributor's Award for his outstanding contribution to ASOCIO's growth in 1994. He holds an M. Tech degree from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay and an MBA from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad.

    Mr. Ashank Desai has been conferred the Distinguished Alumnus Award by IIT Bombay for his contribution as a software entrepreneur.

     


  • published COVID-19 Relief 2020-03-30 12:53:37 -0400

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    COVID-19 Relief Funds for India

    * WHEELS Global Foundation is a 501C(3) approved entity and your donations are Tax Deductible in the USA. Our board members pays all administrative costs to make sure 100% of your donations goes directly to the concerned causes.

     

    The current global crisis caused by the Wuhan Corona Virus and affliction called COVID-19 has engulfed our lives in ways that has crippled our individual well-being, threatens humanity and promises massive economic consequences. Our many well-wishers, donors and patrons have come forward most generously wanting to donate and to know how WHEELS Global Foundation can assist. Here are ways in which you can help and work with us:

    1. WHEELS Global Foundation by Global IIT Alumni: If you wish to make a donation, you may do so at this page or you may also send your check to:

    WHEELS Global Foundation
    11654 Plaza America Drive, #615
    Reston, VA 20190

     

    2. Official Information:

    To keep informed of the spread this deadly scourge in America, you can visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html . This is the official data from the Centers for Disease Control.

    The official Covid-19 site for India is https://www.mygov.in/covid-19/

    There are many videos and suggestions for mitigating this disease and staying safe through personal hygiene, distancing from others and looking out for commonly experienced Covid  symptoms before contacting your doctor or rushing to the hospital. Please review this information on the above official sites and DO NOT DEPEND on ‘word-of-mouth’ or anecdotal recommendations on social media.

     

    3. We are working with our implementation partner for donations specific to work in West Bengal. Please click Kolkata Foundation for work in that state. They are in-turn engaged with other partners like Ektara Foundation, Mukti Foundation, Samaritan Foundation among others who have approached us with specific requests for funding for distribution of food, mobile healthcare vans and purchase of medications.

    Kolkata Foundation is a 501 C(3) certified partner and they will acknowledge your donation immediately for tax purposes.

     

    4. You may also donate directly to the Prime Minister’s Covid Relief Fund at https://www.pmindia.gov.in/en/ However, please note that donations at this web site are not tax deductible in the USA.

     

    5. Other IIT Initiatives:

    Similar information by district can be obtained from the following data visualization application developed by CTARA at IIT Bombay: https://bit.ly/Covid19-India-District-DataVizualization

     

    About COVID-19:

    Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) is a life-threatening respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus that spreads from person to person. The Government of India and all countries affected by this virus are working hard to contain the spread by maintaining lockdowns and taking all necessary measures to provide medical supplies and hospital facilities to affected people. We should take measures recommended by CDC and other health officials such as maintaining social distance, staying indoors, washing hands frequently and drinking warm water. We will utilize your donations to support our implementation partner organizations for healthcare research grants, testing, procuring medical equipment, medical kits and assisting needy families. Your donations in any amount will be of great support and highly appreciated. Please share this message and help us raise funds so we may serve others. #socialdistancing #stayhome #staysafe. We are not organized to ship clothes, blankets, food items, tents etc. Only cash donations are being accepted.

    If you wish to make a donation, you may do so here on this page.

    Thank you

    WHEELS Global Foundation


  • @YagyaDatt tweeted link to Donate to Covid Relief Fund. 2020-04-09 13:45:53 -0400

  • published Smart Village 2019-12-31 13:52:40 -0500

  • Registration for Book Signing By Natwar Gandhi

     Wheels Global Foundation to host Mr. Natwar Gandhi, ex-CFO of the Government of DC for a book signing event. Please come and hear his story about how he overcame adversity and became a recognized leader in the Financial Community, specially in the Metropolitan DC area. 

    Natwar Gandhi began life in a dusty Indian village that had no paved streets, no electricity, no telephone and no running water. When he was 17, his father put him on a train to Mumbai in hopes that he might find work and send money home to help support the family. In Mumbai he barely made a living, but through countless long days of work, relentless determination and good luck he was able to take a plane to New York at the age of 25, where he landed with $7 in his pocket. Still the Promised Land is the fascinating and deeply personal story of how an impoverished immigrant made his way to the new world, remade his life and ultimately became the chief financial officer of Washington, DC, playing a key role in transforming the nation’s capital from a near-bankrupt municipality into a financially healthy major American city. Gandhi’s life is both cautionary and instructive, difficult yet uplifting. Ultimately, it is a harrowing and inspiring account of how to survive seemingly hopeless circumstances and succeed in America. His journey has an uplifting message for present-day America, where immigrants are often reviled and immigration itself is denigrated. It reaffirms faith in the United States’ future as a great nation; indeed, it puts forth that the 21st century will be an American century that embraces all culture "Still The Promised Land".

     

    WHEN:
    Wednesday, Nov 6, 2019 
    6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
     
    WHERE:
    Credence Management Solutions LLC
    8609 Westwood Ctr Drive,
    1st Floor Conference Room, 
    Vienna, VA 22182
     
    CONTACT: 
    San Sengupta
    703 728 0649 
    Sign up

  • published Gala 2018 2018-10-01 14:52:12 -0400

  • published Conference 2018 Registration in Gala 2018 2018-10-01 14:24:30 -0400

    Please register here for WHEELS Global Foundation 2018 Conference. Detailed Agenda is as following.

    WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF) Annual Summit & Gala 2018

    Leveraging Technology for Enhancing Social Impact

    at Franklin Institute for Science & Technology

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

    9:30 am - 4:30 pm, Saturday, November 17, 2018

     

    Saturday, November 17, 2018

    9:30 am:               Registration and Networking

    10:30 am:             Welcome and Opening Remarks

                                    Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, Chairperson of the Roundtable, University of Maryland

                                    Vikas Khurana, Chairperson of the Gala

    Rajat Gupta, Chairman, WHEELS Global Foundation

    Harsha Rajasimha, Organization for Rare Diseases India (ORDI)

     

    Special Address by Professor Vijay Kumar, Dean of Engineering at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Roboticist and UPS Foundation Professor in the School of Engineering & Applied Science

     

    Session I: “Rare and Orphan Diseases - Challenges in India and other Developing Countries: Building on the USA Experience

    11:15 am:             (TBC) Introduction of Speaker, Stephen C. Groft, by Hiten Ghosh, President Emeritus, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF)    

    “Challenge of Diagnosing the Undiagnosed – Role of Technology”

                                    Stephen C. Groft, Pharm.D., Former Director of NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Office of Rare Diseases Research (ORDR)

    11:35 am:           “Public Health Policy Covering Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases in India – Recent Progress and the Road Ahead”

    Dileep Mavalankar, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India

     

    12:00 pm:            Break (to pick up lunch boxes)

    12:30 pm:            Remarks on Goals of WHEELS Program and Introduction of Keynote Speaker by Suresh Shenoy, President, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF)

    Luncheon Keynote by Abraham Abuchowski, CEO, Prolong Pharmaceutical

    “The Case of Sickle Cell Disease and Overcoming the Clinical Trials Challenge”

    1:00 pm:               “Balancing Priorities of Patients with Rare Diseases in India”

    Harsha Rajasimha, Organization for Rare Diseases India (ORDI)

    1:20 pm:               Closing Remarks of session by Vikas Khurana, WHEELS Global Foundation

    1:25 pm:               End of Session I

     

    1:30 pm:               Special Address by Ejaz Ghani, Lead Economist, World Bank

    Session II: Challenges and Best Practices for Scaling Up Philanthropy in Healthcare

    1:45 pm:               Remarks by Ron Mehta, Executive Director, WIN Foundation

                                    Moderator: Anil Bhandari, Chairman, Advisory Board, WHEELS

    Principal Discussants:

    • Dileep Mavalankar, Director, Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Gandhinagar Gujarat, India
    • Rahul Jindal, Professor, Department of Surgery and Division of Global Health at Uniformed Services University & Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
    • Thakor Patel, Chairman, Sevak Project
    • Chirag Patel, Founder Chairman, Amneal Pharma

     

    2:55 pm:               End of Session II

     

    3:00 pm:               Special Address by Anand Shah, Chief Medical Officer, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, CMS Radiation Oncologist, National Cancer Institute

    Session III: Leveraging Technology to Address Challenges facing Women

    3:15 pm:               Moderator: Thakor Patel, Chairman, Sevak Project

     

               Principal Discussants:

    • Devesh Kapur, Starr Foundation South Asia Studies Professor and Asia Programs Director at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies(SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University
    • Amita Sehgal, Department of Neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
    • Padmini Balagopal, Registered Dietitian, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)
    • Harsha Mukherjee, serial social entrepreneur with expertise in conceptualizing and implementing Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (CSR) strategies for private and public sector companies

     

    3:50 pm:               End of Session III

       3:55 pm:               Valedictory Remarks: Ambassador Santosh Jha, DCM, Embassy of India, Washington DC (TBC)                      4:15 pm:               Closing Remarks and Wrap-up: Rajat Gupta, Chairman, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF) and Ambassador Pradeep Kapur, University of Maryland

    4:30 pm:               Conclusion of Session

    * For Evening Gala Registration please check  http://www.wheelsglobal.org/register_gala2018

    Sign up

  • signed up on Gala 2018 Registration 2018-09-17 19:01:28 -0400

    Please register here for WHEELS Global Foundation 2018 Gala at Franklin Institute, Philadelphia on Nov 17, 2018.

    * This registration link is for people who have already purchased tickets or their host has already booked a table. You can still purchase tickets at  http://www.wheelsglobal.org/phillygala_tickets

    Sign up

  • published Year End Updates -2017 in About Us 2018-01-25 12:32:23 -0500

  • published Financial Records in About Us 2017-11-02 14:20:23 -0400

  • Unleashing the Forgotten Billion of India

    Unleashing the Forgotten Billion of India

     

    A saying in Hindi goes, Pehle darshan dhari, phir gun vichari. We initially judge something by its appearance than by its quality. The boot space of our car, the rear of our house or the back of our teeth is usually accorded a second class status. I had accorded the same status to the “poor and poorly educated” billion people in India – the Forgotten Billion. It seems human nature to accord such status to anything that does not seem important or is out of sight or perceived as inferior – until some extraordinary experiences make us question some of our deep seated assumptions. They got rid of my blinkers. They made me “see” the world of Forgotten Billion.

     Fourteen months that I worked at National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in 2010-11 made a deep impact. It allowed me Bharat Darshan, to understand Bharat, the informal and traditional India. With hope in my heart I proceeded on a sabbatical in 2011 to explore the question - How can we unleash our Forgotten Billion? Answers have finally emerged. I am sharing my journey and the lessons it has taught.

    NSSO 2011-12 data says that 89.2% of Indians did not receive vocational training, a desperate picture. But there is another piece of statistic which informs that 1.7% of Indians have learnt skills themselves. They are Ustads, individuals with extraordinary motivation to self-express, to seek their calling in life. They may be poorly educated and born in families with little resources but they looked beyond those hurdles. Actively sought teachers, if there were none around they learnt seeking any resource they could lay their hands on. They learnt less formally, more intuitively. In Mahabharat, Eklavya hoped Dronacharya would become his teacher but when it did not happen efforts grew manifold and he learnt by himself. Ustads belong to the clan of Ekalavyas. NSSO suggests that 1.7 in 100 people are Ustads, of the 400mn workforce in India there are more than 6 mn of them. I met a few hundred across India. 

     Niranjan, a 34 yr old ustad mechanic in Goa, remembers, “School was boring so after Class X I decided to pursue a diploma at a polytechnic. Though I learnt little there, I realised I wanted to become a mechanic. My father understood and gave me his old scooter. I took it apart and put it back and soon I taught myself to be a mechanic”, says Niranjan with a grin, echoing Einstein’s sentiment, play is the highest form of research.

     This conversation I was having alongside Niranjan’s teacher at school, Baby didi, in Kavale village of Goa. She recalls, “Niranjan had little interest in studies. I thought he was a dull student. But while pursuing the diploma he approached, asking me to teach him some Class IX and X Physics, later also asking if I could help him get some books. His sudden interest puzzled me!”

     In Class XI Niranjan failed in all subjects in the first term. Not only had he failed but also reached his point of gnawing dissatisfaction. Enough is enough, and he set about to self-express and discover himself. Once he realised his passion floodgates opened and was soon seeking lessons from teachers, books and any learning source – also going back to didi for lessons which did not interest him earlier.

     “A significant fraction of children who drop out may be those who refuse to compromise with non-comprehension - they are potentially superior to those who just memorise and do well in examination, without comprehending very much!” says, Prof Yash Pal, a leading educationist.

     Could Niranjan teach interested youth to become a car mechanic? He had already trained many informally and on-the-job over the years. But could he do it “formally” turning his mechanic shed into a clean and safe training school? After some thought he replied, “Two batches a day with five students each I can train 10 students in three months - 40 in a year. They will not be mechanic after that but I guarantee they will make good helpers to mechanics earning more than Rs 8,000 per month right away.  In two years they will be good mechanics earning more than Rs 25,000.” But how educated should the youth be, I asked. “If the youth is interested and can put in hard work it is enough. If he does not pickup electrical work I will teach mechanical. If that too does not interest I will train to tinker and paint. They are all in high demand.”

     Such conversations I have regularly had with Ustads of different trades in my travels across the country. Ansari, the barber of Katwaria Sarai in Delhi, Sukant, the mobile technician in the small town of Pattamundai, Odisha, Chintu, the welder in Chilamakur village, Andhra Pradesh or Ramesh, the fitter in Bharuch, Gujarat. None were much educated but the finest in their trade and keen to teach others. Pitamber, a retired ustad plumber, did not study after class VII, asked if I would fund him to setup a plumbing school in his remote Nodhabasant village in Kendrapara Dist, Odisha. After more than 25 years in the trade he had retired and returned back to the village to tend to his small farm.

     “Yes, if you could mobilise 20 interested students”, I promised. Fifteen minutes later he had assembled 10 students, mostly poorly educated but also included a graduate. “It is mid-day and many have gone to work in the fields else I would have assembled twenty easily”, said Pitamber.  To the youth I asked, “Why would you be interested to learn in a village plumbing school run by Pitamber?” “If I learn plumbing from Pitamber my friends and relatives working as plumbers in the big cities will immediately call me for work”, was the unanimous response.

     After two months of running his boot-strapped school in a village room I brought a plumbing supervisor with a leading builder from Bhubaneshwar to assess the 14 students – 12 assessed at B and 1 each at A and C grades. “They are all ready to work as helpers to plumbers”, assured the assessor. After three weeks I had arranged them to be placed with a top construction company, but by then they had left for their new jobs.

     Reminds you of Ustad-Chela system? The big merit of Ustad-Chela system is its very low cost. The finest learning theory suggests that imparting of skills in an informal setting and right at the place of work is critical for good learning outcomes. These two robust ingredients are already present in the model. Its big disadvantage is the ad-hoc processes and inconsistent outcomes. The model also suffers a poor perception in the eyes of the industry as it is seen as chaotic and its presentation does not help.

     Pitamber’s school was a refurbished and its modern manifestation. I brought him an industry certified standard syllabus. He knocked off 50% of it as unnecessary and wanted me to get a lot of product catalogues of sanitary ware. “The pictures and diagrams in the catalogues help in easy understanding”, he said. He would not compromise on the tools and kits and got a complete set, only of the best brands. One day a plumber was visiting his village and dropped by the school. “I got my diploma at the State Institute of Plumbing Technology but the tools and materials you have here are very good. Students get to freely use them”. Another visiting plumber asked Pitamber, if he too could teach a few classes in his school – there is abundant visiting faculty.

     The trade estimates that 50%-75% of plumbers in India are “Odiya plumbers”. Little do they know that these plumbers mostly come from a small region in Kendrapara Dist, less than half the size of a district. I visited homes which had even five plumbers in their household and they said it was common in the region. Kendrapara region is crying for many such plumbing schools, atleast a fifty are needed. Many retired Pitambers are available in the villages across the region. Kendrapara, the Plumbing Capital of India in two years is not far-fetched.

     The adjoining district of Jagatsinghpur is known to send out a large number of cooks. Masons of Malda in West Bengal are considered the best, same with welders and fitters from Gorakhpur and North Bihar or riggers from Rajasthan or bar benders from the border districts of Jharkhand-Odisha. And the list goes on. While Tamil Nadu is not a big supplier of construction workers but the district of Thiruvannamalai seems to be catering to 25% of Tamil Nadu’s construction activity. There are no published figures or any research done on this beautiful phenomenon. But talking to many workers and supervisors in my travels this was pieced together. A Skills Map of India is waiting to be uncovered.

     Talk to plumbing experts and they will say 6 months full-time is the minimum duration to learn and the student better be high school pass. Plumbing is almost like an engineering profession, they argue.  Probe them and you realise they have little hands-on experience, their experience is mostly in managing the tradesmen, sometimes supervising. The narrative is similar across trades. “Welding takes a minimum of 6 months”, told me a highly respected industry expert. Yet such a “village skills school” in a Jajpur village run by Diganta in Odisha trained youth part-time in welding for a month and Thermax, the reputed engineering company, assessed them to be ready to work at their site. Their supervisor said, “On day 1, all these kids will be better than the bottom 25% of my team of 110 welders. Such is the desperation and shortage of skills.” I spoke to Steve Bleile and he endorsed the Ustad-view – “a motivated youth needs just one month to learn the fundamentals of welding”. Steve’s video tutorials on welding are most popular in the world.

     Atanu Dey, an economist from University of California, Berkeley has thought deeply about learning. He says, “Education is all about loading the bootstrap program in the brain of a child. And after you have done that, the child himself is capable of loading the other bits of software required to do everything else, or what we call learning. The important point is that the bootstrap program has to be loaded first and it has to be very small and very efficient”, he says. Ustads know this intuitively. Observing Pitamber and Diganta teach over extended period I saw this theory in action. Their focus is never on completing the syllabus, always the individual learner. Ustads have much to teach, I tell my teacher-wife.

     If Skill Development were a 10-step ladder we have a ladder with only the top few steps available in India, the bottom steps are either missing or broke. Hence most of the Forgotten Billion have poor access and are never formally trained – wasting away valuable potential. Construction trade is estimated to employ about 20% of India’s workforce and mostly attracts villagers. If Skill Development for Construction were a car, we see very few Mercedes, mostly in urban centres, many times poorly utilized and are mostly show pieces. But what people are demanding is an Alto right in their village panchayat.

     And such an Alto was encouraged to be setup across Tamil Nadu in a grand experiment by a free-spirited bureaucrat under a World Bank funded poverty alleviation program. They called it Community Skills School (CSS) - setup “by the community, for the community and of the community” - to solve their own livelihood problems. Majority of them voted for masonry and setup Community Skills Schools for Masonry right in their village panchayat. There were also others in trades like four wheeler and two wheeler repair, welding, home appliance repair and traditional ones like silk saree weaving, pottery, bamboo basket making, rose nursery, etc. An agency came to assess and found 85% were work ready. The agency operates across the country but had never seen such a school. What got them charmed was to see a good number of women enrolled. In a few districts these were all-woman masonry schools too. Go across the country and you will not find a woman-mason, they work only as helpers to masons.

     The star attraction amongst these schools was one operated by Kannan to train handicapped person including a few who are mentally challenged. Over a year 285 people with disability from across Tamil Nadu were trained to repair home appliances, laptops and TVs, all in 30 days at his CSS in Sivaganga. More than 80% of them earn between Rs 3,000 to Rs 12,000/month today. What were seen as “liabilities” by their families were now converted into “assets” by Kannan, a 2.5ft polio infected wonder.

     50% of India’s workforce still gets sustenance from agriculture, also dominated by women. There is little training available to enhance their livelihoods anywhere in the country. The initiative was extended into farming as well, calling it Community Farm School (CFS). The poorest of the poor have little assets and they depend mostly on rearing goats, which requires low cost to maintain. Across three districts of Tuticorin, Virudhunagar and Sivaganga thirty CFSs for goat rearing were launched, each run by a carefully selected Spark. A Spark is a woman of the community who has an unusually keen interest to learn and teach the trade.

     An expert veterinarian, Dr Mohan Balasubramanian, understood their problems and challenges in rearing goats, devised a syllabus accordingly and taught the Sparks to overcome them every weekend for 12 weeks. The Sparks went back to their villages and ran the CFS for those interested in their community. The mortality of the goats which had historically been between 20 to 45% had been brought down under 5% across the four districts within a year. The animals showed appreciable weight gain too. Doubling of farm incomes of the very poor does not seem impossible in a year.

     The expertise of Dr Mohan Balasubramanian has been magnified manifold by 60 Sparks, they are now capable of scaling it up across the entire three districts with only a little support from him.

     The garments hub of Tiruppur faces a shortage of 20,000 people. From my travels across Tamil Nadu I estimate that these number and more are scattered across villages. Women after working for 3-4 years in large garment exporters of Tiruppur are sitting at home. After marriage their familial responsibilities forced them to leave their jobs and go back to their villages. On such a fertile bed another pilot was initiated in Virudhunagar District. In six months, after careful selection of Sparks amongst the village community, 20 Community Enterprise garment subcontract units have emerged across the District, mostly run by such village women. The project helped them with funding, introduction to large garment companies in the region and mentored them for first three months. These units together employ more than 200 women most of whom were earlier working either in the farm or as unskilled labour.

     In all a few thousand households moved to better livelihoods in a short time. It has now been planned to scale-up 5,000 Community Skills School and Community Farm School across Tamil Nadu to skill and employ or self-employ about 3 lac people. The Virudhunagar model of tapping into dominant value chains of the state to catalyse large number of small enterprises is also being taken up.

     I argue that catalyzing and unleashing Ustads and Sparks (tomorrows’ Ustads) India can be a transformed country in five years. How to locate them? Ask the community and they will revert in no time. The investment I foresee should not exceed Rs 10,000 cr. The challenge is akin to setting a gigantic and very heavy flywheel in motion. Getting it started is very hard work but once it has it will pick up its own momentum and go ahead full speed.

     He should know.

     Steve Jobs travelled to Indian villages in his days of youth and made an observation. He says,

     “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and the intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world… Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion.”

     My lessons have been similar.

     What I have shared in this long essay a Chinese poem puts it tersely and well,

     

    Go to the people,
    Live among them,
    Learn from them,
    Love them.
    Start with what they know.
    Build on what they have.


  • published New York Gala Invite in Latest News 2017-07-13 12:14:21 -0400

  • published Kanya Project in Projects 2017-02-14 16:08:49 -0500

    Project - Kanya :  Sanitary Napkin Machine

    An African proverb states “If we educate a boy, we educate one person.  If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.” With a more educated female population, the literacy rate of the entire country will steadily increase because women are more likely to teach their children and their peers than men. A higher literacy rate leads to an increase in human capital, higher GDP, and higher standard of living.

    In rural schools in India, menstrual hygiene education is often avoided because of the societal customs, often implemented by families, to never speak of the subject. While most people know that menses is a natural part of a woman’s body, the girls in this villages still have no idea what menses is or why it happens, they only see it as a time where they must end their schooling to stay home and work with the family because they are no longer pure enough to be a part of society.

    UNICEF reports that “in countries where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year”. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12-years-old, and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods, and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritized.

    Kanya_Project.jpg

    Proposed project:

    In rural India there are plenty of manpower and agricultural resources. Aakar is a hybrid social enterprise that enables women to produce and distribute affordable, high-quality, ~100% compostable sanitary napkins within their communities while simultaneously raising awareness and sensitization of menstrual hygiene management. Part of  the profit generated by the social venture will be used to provide free sanitary napkins for all the girls in school, making a sustainable model with the following  benefits:

    1. Women empowerment
    2. Employment generation
    3. Preventing girl child school dropout
    4. Poverty alleviation
    5. Improving sanitation

    The plan is to empower women in the village community where the production machine will be installed, by promoting ownership of the machine by a group of entrepreneurial women.   Collectively, these women and the community will contribute the equivalent of Rs 70,000 and a shed in exchange for ownership of the machine as a business. In addition, the women or the community will contribute a plot of land on which to build a shed with a door and lock, to house the production machine and inventory of the raw material and output of sanitary napkins.

    The social venture will be owned by the women in the community which will enhance their empowerment. It will also generate employment for 15 women alleviating poverty in those families. A total of Rs 77,000 per month will be paid to self employed small business women workers.

    Using the profit made from a sales commission of Rs. 5/ packet, we will donate sanitary napkins for the school girls in the Burgula village which will lead to a 25% decrease in the dropout rate of girls due to menstruation.

    To donate for Kanya Project - Click here.

     


  • published Giving Tuesday in Latest News 2016-11-28 14:17:05 -0500

    Giving Tuesday

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    WHEELS Global Foundation Launches Their #GivingTuesday Campaign; “Change a Life”

    Global Day of Giving Takes Place this Year on November 29

     

    Bethesda, MD., November 28, 2016 – WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF), a non-profit that is a pioneer in applying technology to uplift rural communities will launch their first #GivingTuesday campaign; “Change a Life” on November 29, 2016. Giving Tuesday is a global giving movement that has been driven by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the globe. Since its founding in 2012, millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. After two days of getting deals – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – #GivingTuesday is a day for giving back.

    Giving_Tuesday_l_WGF.png

    This Giving Tuesday donate to eradicate the lack of clean water, prevent avoidable sickness and disease, and increase educational opportunities for the millions of young adults that are eager to learn new skills to find better jobs. “Every action begins with one brilliant idea that intertwines innovation and technology to empower others,” said Hiten Ghosh, President WHEELS Global Foundation. He adds, “It takes one meaningful action to enhance healthy living in the rural communities.”

    Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. 

    Funds raised from “Change a Life” campaign will help the foundation build additional Clean Drinking Water Plants (CDWP) and work in collaboration with non-profit partners like Pratham to provide quality education to underprivileged children in India. One of the foundation’s Education track Director runs an IT training project called, “Spoken Tutorials.” This self-learning digital tool is dubbed into 22 languages of India and can also be used offline. About 2.5 million students have been successfully trained on various IT topics using this methodology. The "Spoken Tutorials" team recently received the prestigious “National ICT Award” from the Hon'ble President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee.

     

    About WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF): WHEELS Global Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that provides technological solutions to global challenges in six areas; water, health, education, energy, lifestyles, and sustainability.  The non-profit organization’s recent successes include striking water at 675’ after months of drilling for clean water in Tamliyar village in Barmer district of Rajasthan, India.  They have provided clean drinking water to over 50,000 rural villagers in India thus far, transforming 14 acres of barren land into a productive land of abundance and delivering healthcare monitoring to 60,000 households working with their collaborator Sevak Foundation. They have also been able to provide sanitary toilets to villagers with the help of their partner; Habitat for Humanity – India Builds. For more information and videos on the tremendous work of WGF and to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit: www.WHEELSGlobalFoundation.org  

    About #GivingTuesday

    #GivingTuesday is a movement, built by people around the world, to celebrate giving of all kinds.  It is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday; this year it falls on November 29, 2016. This movement is the result of the collective power of a unique blend of partners—nonprofits large and small; businesses and corporations; schools and universities; civic campaigns in cities, states and regions; and families and individuals—to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. Everyone has something to give. 
                                                                                           
                                                                                        ###


  • commented on Contact Us 2016-11-18 11:57:15 -0500
    Keep the WHEEL rolling. Testing auto response.

  • WHEELS Global Foundation Launches Borewell Project in the Villages of Rajasthan

    On Sept 24th 2016, In the village Jalat (Rajasthan), After drilling about 675' deep, down to a body of high quality aquifer, our team in India struck water at a good pressure and flow rate. Please check below pictures from the site and video of water gushing out of Borewell. It is possible only because of the generosity of our donors and supporters, an additional 6,000 people will now have access to clean drinking water. 

     

    Tamilyaar_Rajasthan_Borewell-001.jpg

     

    Jalat_Borewell.jpg

    Dr. Thakor Patel(WHEELS Director and Track Leader for HealthCare) inaugurated the new Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant in Jalat village this year. The village Sarpanch (leader) and our team lead by Dr. Patel gave education on diseases related with poor quality of water.

    Sarpanch_Water_Bottle_TP.JPG

    Below is the video of Water Gushing Out of Borewell. 

     


  • Water Project Tamliyar Village, Barmer District | Rajasthan


  • Wheels Global Foundation and Pratham Partner To Promote Girls Education In India

    pratham.jpgWheels_Logo.jpg

     

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     WHEELS GLOBAL FOUNDATION (WGF) AND PRATHAM PARTNER

    TO PROMOTE GIRLS EDUCATION IN INDIA

    Pratham’s Second Chance Program Assists Female School Dropouts through the Provision of Digital Learning

    WASHINGTON, DC — October 17, 2016, WHEELS Global Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is a pioneer in applying technology to uplift rural communities, and Pratham, one of India’s largest educational nonprofits, which provides quality education to underprivileged children, announced a partnership to promote girls' education in underserved communities in five states in India.

    An alarming 80% of girls in India leave school before completing eighth grade, due to persisting socioeconomic and cultural norms.  The WGF grant will help enhance Pratham’s Second Chance program, which assists female school dropouts over the age of 14 in completing their secondary school education and earning their 10th Standard diploma, through the provision of digital learning resources.

    Presently, Pratham operates 33 centers connected to 200 learning sites in nine Indian states: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana, aimed at supporting female dropouts. The partnership will introduce digital learning solutions in five of these states, reaching 1,700 students.  Laptops and tablets with pre-loaded Pratham content in the areas of Science, Math and English as well as “Spoken Tutorials,” a digital educational tool which will be made accessible to students at Pratham learning sites, which typically caters to 25-30 students, and loaned to groups of students so they can access class lessons on their own time and at their own pace, while also becoming familiar with digital technology in general.

    “We are honored to have the support of the WHEELS Global Foundation. By augmenting the girls’ education program with access to interactive and engaging digital content, we hope to provide them with a more robust learning experience and improve outcomes,” said Head of Pratham’s Second Chance program Renu Seth, who is in the US to promote girls’ education. Seth added that the technology will also help develop Pratham’s infrastructure: “We spend an inordinate amount of time and resources building capacity. There is a high demand for teachers in rural areas who can teach secondary school content but attrition is also high. Having the technology in place to support teaching training is an added benefit and will greatly improve Pratham’s ability to support these young women.”

    The Second Chance program offers females an alternative education model that engages them in a safe, supportive environment and helps them obtain their diploma, improving their prospects for higher education and employment. Since its inception in 2011, the program has impacted the lives of more than 18,000 girls and women, with pass percentages for enrollees reaching 88% in the 2015-16 school years. "We are thrilled to partner with Pratham on their Second Chance initiative to assist the young dropout girls,” says Hiten Ghosh, President of WGF. “Using digital teaching tools allows the young adults to learn at their own pace, which is important,” he adds.

    Learn more about the Second Chance program at www.prathamusa.org/program/girls-education/.

    About WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF): WHEELS Global Foundation is a 501(c)(3) that provides technological solutions to global challenges in six areas; water, health, education, energy, lifestyles, and sustainability.  The non-profit organization’s recent successes include striking water at 675’ after months of drilling for clean water in Tamliyar village in Barmer district of Rajasthan, India.  They have provided clean drinking water to over 50,000 rural villagers in India thus far, transforming 14 acres of barren land into a productive land of abundance and delivering healthcare monitoring to 60,000 households working with their collaborator Sevak Foundation. They have also been able to provide sanitary toilets to villagers with the help of their partner; Habitat for Humanity – India Builds. For information on how to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit: www.WHEELSGlobalFoundation.org  

    About Pratham

    Established in the slums of Mumbai in 1995, Pratham is now one of India’s largest non-governmental education organizations, having affected the lives of more than 45 million underprivileged children in the past two decades. To achieve its mission of “every child in school and learning well,” Pratham develops practical solutions to address gaps in the education system and works in collaboration with India’s governments, communities, educators and industry to increase learning outcomes and influence education policy.

    Pratham USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a consistent four-star rating from Charity Navigator that seeks to raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for its work in India. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit prathamusa.org.

     

    Media Contacts:

    For more information, please contact:

    Anuja Butala, Senior Manager
    Marketing and Communications
    Pratham USA
    646-593-1404
    abutala@prathamusa.org
    prathamusa.org
    Divya Gupta, President
    Brand Marketing and PR
    G.R.I.D.S. Consulting, Inc.
    714.914.7437
    DivyaGupta@GRIDSConsulting.com
    www.GRIDSConsulting.com

    ###


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