I know a teacher from Jhansi who teaches mathematics online to students from Tallahassee. To me, she is the most powerful symbol of the growing global stature of Indian EdTech. She is one of the thousands of Indian teachers who are now taking Indian pedagogy to the world. Education technology, or EdTech, is an idea whose time in India has come. This Independence Day, the teacher in me is...
It is a common sight on Indian Railways to see hawkers board at every station and sell a range of products, mostly food items, to passengers. These products often were of questionable quality and came from a largely unregulated market.
The Railways have now moved to make this a regulated service, where local vendors will be able to receive permits for their businesses and legally sell their products to the people onboard. Officials have also ensured that the services would not interrupt passenger movement and will be providing the vendors with carts and kiosks specifically designed for this purpose.
One Station One Product Policy
One Station One Product' was an initiative announced in the Union Budget 2022-23 with the objective to encourage the sale of indigenous products and crafts by providing them an exposure through display spaces at the railway stations. Additionally, the Railways would also be issuing the permits to vendors who would like to sell their goods onboard.
The vendors would be provided with a designer cart or a kiosk with wheels and inbuilt storage space, to put their products on display. Each cart has been designed in collaboration with the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design, keeping in mind the factor that vendors require storage space for their products and passenger's require the space to move around freely.
Each station would provide a boost to one local product, which could range from food products, handicrafts, household items, to even decorative products that are exclusive to the state. So hereafter, the passengers would be able to view a lot of authentic and locally sourced products, including dhoklas and fafdas at Ahmedabad station to Channapatna toys at Srirangapatna.
The Plan Of Action
Presently, only vendors approved by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) are permitted to sell goods on stations and trains. The railways have set a plan in place to approach local business associations and offer them a space at the platforms to sell their products. This plan is also expanded to permit them to sell goods onboard the train.
Each vendor would be entitled to pay a fee of ₹1,500 each, with which they can put their products on display for 15 days. After a period of 15 days, a new vendor would replace them at the station. As per the report by NDTV, the officials have already conducted a test run of the project at 78 stations and have earned ₹5,000 from the fees levied from the vendors.
In India, there are several challenges that a blue-collar worker faces to progress and advance in life. One such challenge is a lack of awareness of the opportunities, as only a few one-point destinations cater for this issue. It becomes essential to come up with relevant projects and innovations that bring a revolutionary set of ideas that has the potential to solve the problem.
Established in 2020 in Bengaluru, GoodWorker is one such digital platform that aims to improve the lives of India's blue-collar workforce by offering access to career advancement possibilities and other quality of life services.
It's a joint venture between SchoolNet & LemmaTree (a 100% subsidiary of Temasek, Singapore), which aims to build disruptive businesses striving for transparency and portability within the digital credentials and identify space.
Since the app was launched in Lucknow and Kanpur, it has already seen adoption from more than 10 thousand employers and more than 1 lakh workers. GoodWorker has seen demand in top sectors: Logistics - 31 per cent, BPO/ back office - 25 per cent, Field Sales - 22 per cent, Front Office - 10 per cent, Retail - 7 per cent, and Factory - 4 per cent.
The GoodWorker platform offers a unique way for workers to get upskilled and ready for jobs. The learning feature is modeled like social media video platforms, with short films focusing on skill improvement and life skills, including managing finances, updating resumes, and confronting interviews. These 90-second videos will convey ideas and concepts in a fun, instructive, and robust manner.
The purpose-driven digital platform was started with an offline employment solution, engaging with 90+ major firms across five industries and 19 states. In just 18 months, it could put over 1.35 million people in these jobs. The company has expanded its portfolio to include an online job matching and learning service to achieve even greater reach and effect.
The company Director, Sales, and Operations, Mayank Mohan, while talking to The Logical Indian, said, "GoodWorker's internal data for blue-collar workers shows strong demand for delivery, warehousing, telesales, and retail roles, besides field jobs. Most local employers seem to build their sales and front/ back office capabilities while larger ones focus on warehousing/ delivery."
For now, we do not see significant headwinds from macro-economic factors like inflation, interest rate increase or the war - but other factors like the slowdown in startup funding can impact blue-collar hiring, he added.
The vision is to empower workers with verified hyperlocal jobs at trusted employers and enable employers to find relevant workers who are qualified and interested. With its innovative and hassle-free onboarding process, GoodWorker will let employers post a job in 2 minutes, get verified in 20 minutes, and hire relevant workers in less than 24 hours.
Through this process, it has become a one-stop shop with geography-centric job listings and skill-enhancing educational features for its users. The company plans to launch new features that will make the online offering even more effective for workers and employers and expand to all major cities before the end of next year.
The startup Goodfellows made it to the news and to many people's hearts for its noble idea of providing companionship as a service to senior citizens who suffer from loneliness in their old age. The initiative was introduced by Shantanu Naidu, an MBA graduate from Cornell University who has been closely working with the Tata group for years now. Backing the initiative by their employee was the former chairman of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata, who announced that he would be actively investing in the startup.
Shantanu Naidu had also founded the initiative 'Motopaws', which worked towards innovation and design of circuits that would lower the cases of human-animal accidents caused in the country. This initiative was also funded by Ratan Tata, who had shared the founder's compassion for the strays.
Goodfellows And Its Distinctive Take Toward Health Of The Elderly
The founder of the startup, Shantanu, mentioned that there are over 50 million senior citizens who are living by themselves and have no one to share their lives with. This sense of loneliness occurs among many elderly due to the loss of a partner/friends, families migrating away, or even them relocating to far locations for work-related reasons. This lack of company takes a toll on their mental and physical health, which the startup attempts to address.
Shantanu said that the startup understands that companionship means different things to different people, and they hope to build a connection that accommodates these differential requirements as well. So for some, while the company offers companionship in the form of watching a movie or going on a walk together, it could offer the service of simply sitting around together and doing nothing as well. All these were deduced within the beta phase of the project, which attempted to organically understand how the elderly bonded with the youngsters from the Goodfellows.
As per Live Mint, the company has been able to work with 20 elders in Mumbai within six months of its launch and will be considering expanding to other cities of Pune, Chennai, and Bangalore, based on its viability. The founder has stated that the company would scale up gradually without placing the quality of the services offered at stake. Ratan Tata's investment has proven to be an encouraging aspect toward reaching this goal, and the team will be taking it ahead with utmost dedication.
"Similar To What A Grandkid Would Do"
Goodfellows has been mindful about the youngsters they choose for the project and has hired those who exhibit skills of empathy and emotional intelligence to work as companions for senior citizens. These youngsters would also ensure that the elderly are able to handle their day with ease and would assist them with their tasks if required. In short, Goodfellows provides companionship to the senior citizens in a way "similar to what a grandkid would do".
Ratan Tata praised the initiative during its launch, saying, "You do not know what it is like to be lonely until you spend time alone wishing for companionship". He believes that the startup would be able to provide good-natured companionship, which is challenging to find for the older.
The business model of Goodfellows is set in a freemium subscription model that provides free services for the first month to have the senior citizen familiarise themselves with the concept and opt for it later if they find it helpful. A small subscription fee would be derived, starting from the second month, on the basis of the limited affordability of the pensioners.
The startup has also suggested a future plan of providing companionship for the seniors who hold back from making trips due to concerns relating to lack of security, company, and so on.
The Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) students are working towards breaking the taboo around periods by creating eco-friendly reusable sanitary pads. To implement and execute the initiative, the students employed women from slums to help them earn some money. The students of JMI also set up a manufacturing unit- reusable and environment-friendly for the production of pads.
Notably, the manufacturing unit is bringing change in the Khadar Shram Vihar region of Madanpur in New Delhi, where women feel ashamed for talking about their problems in front of men. Now manufacturing of sanitary pads is taking place in the same area under their guidance.
The 'Shrimati Napkin' is made using banana fibre and bamboo products. It's developed to be environment friendly and reusable as it can last over a 12-period cycle, Times Now reported.
The students of JMI started working on the project in 2019 after getting associated with Student Organisation Enactus Jamia Millia Islamia. It took over one year to finalise the product, and production was also no less than a task for students.
The vice-president of Enactus, Maham Sidique, said, "We had four failed prototypes before reaching the final product. It took a lot of research and hard work. In the core, we have banana and bamboo fibres. The bamboo fibre is the core absorbent part of the napkin, and the banana fibre gives it a structure and has anti-bacterial properties."
After the students reached the final stage for finalising the product, the monetisation for the production of napkins became challenging as it required customised machines. The students contacted several Multi-National Companies and pitched the idea for the 'Shrimati' project. Later, they raised around Rs 2.5 lakh for the execution of the project.
According to Enactus, 22 students are engaged in this project where they have been divided into sub-groups to handle production, marketing and other departments. The students claim that the Shrimati Napkins are a better alternative to expensive napkins. Making napkins also involves women from slums, providing them Rs 25 per pad.
'Experience Nila Legacy' is a collaborative project that aims to support native small businesses by bringing them to the mainstream and creating a platform for them to exhibit their craftsmanship. The renowned multinational hospitality group, Hyatt Regency, in collaboration with the Blue Yonder, a company building travel experiences in connection with the native people, have opted for this innovative way to celebrate Independence Day.
Both organisations believed it necessary to honour the indigenous artists, as they are exceptional craftspeople but do not receive much recognition for their works. Through this project, the collaborators are giving an opportunity for people to explore more authentic native handicrafts and are helping local artisans gain exposure.
An Experience Closer To The Roots
Bharathapuzha, also known as the Nila river, is the second longest river in Kerala and is well-known among artists for the exceptional quality of mud and clay present around the banks. In fact, the lives and livelihood of many artists who have settled on the banks of the river are closely attached to the Nila. As the river runs along the banks of the districts of Palakkad, Thrissur, and Malappuram, the river carries along a long line of tradition and trade for several potters, grass mat makers, and brass metal workers, traditional mirror moulders, and multiple other artists.
Honouring this inevitable cultural aspect of Kerala, the Hyatt Regency and The Blue Yonder organised the project to support local artisans. Their wide range of handcrafted and sustainable products will be up for display and sale on August 15. As per a report by The Print, the General Manager of Hyatt Regency has stated that "unique native products like the Killimangalam traditional grass mats, handloom fabrics, musical instruments, and products made of bamboo, pine and clay will be displayed at by Hyatt Regency, Thrissur on August 15". This would enable the artists to showcase the rich culture attached to the Nila river to a wider audience.
By encouraging local artists who have contributed in building the social, historical, and cultural heritage of the country, they hope to do their bit in paying respects to a nation that has always moved toward self-reliance.
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