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How the Humble LPG Cylinder Is Changing Lives of Rural Women

On the remote, verdant hills of Baramullah district in north Kashmir lie a clump of hamlets. In one such village, atop a small hillock stays Mehmeet, a forty-two-year-old mother of three, along with her husband, Nasir, and children. A sturdy woman with rosy cheeks and sparkling grey eyes, Mehmeet putters around her house with great alacrity, sending her children to school, feeding the chickens in the hen house, baking bread, making pickles and jams, traveling to the market in the neighbouring village to get supplies, among other daily chores.

A Picture a Day Goes a Long Way

The motorboat chugged along steadily in the autumn twilight on the majestic Brahmaputra. Sailen, the eight-year-old son of my guide, tugged at my sleeve, ‘Look look,’ he pointed with his index finger excitedly. Across from us was a small boat. A man was squatting on it and pulling up a fishing net. My eyes widened as I saw the catch, hundreds of tiny silver fish thrashing about. I smiled at Sailen.

Weaving the Way for Indian Textile Industry

The textile and apparel industry is one of the earliest industries to have developed in India. Its inherent and unique strength is its incomparable employment potential owing to the presence of the entire value chain from fibre to apparel manufacturing within the country. It is the biggest employer after agriculture and provides direct employment to 4.5 crore people and another 6 crores in allied sectors. India needs to generate jobs that pay well, provide social protection to workers, support efficient production for export markets, and hold the potential for social transformation.

Embracing Technology

Technology has increasingly shown the potential to fix challenges across important socio-economic fields such as financial inclusion and healthcare. A combination of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and a rising digital footprint in India has led to proliferation of products and services in society. As technology embraces and enhances the daily lives of people in contemporary India, people should readily return the favour, empowering themselves. Facilitating this reverse embrace of technology is essential for Indian public policy.

Indian Education Sector is Ripe for Disruption by Artificial Intelligence

Home to one-sixth of the world's population, India is bound to play a leading role in determining the global success of the SDGs. By 2030, India will have the largest number of young people in the globe, a population size which will be a boon only if these young people are skilled enough to join the workforce. The recently launched SDG Index 2019-2020 by Niti Aayog assigned a composite score of 58 to India under the SDG on Quality Education, with only 12 states/UTs having a score of more than 64. The current government expenditure on education is less than 3% of the GDP and the pupil-teacher ratio for elementary school stands at 24:1, lower than that of comparable countries such as Brazil and China. Further, with the rapidly increasing population and dwindling resources, it would not be possible to match the demand for teachers.

Steeling the Show – Leveraging India’s latent potential to become a global EV manufacturing hub

The mobility industry as we know it is one the cusp of transformation and we will observe a drastic change in passenger, freight and mass transit in the coming years. Particularly in the context of road-based mobility solutions, we will observe an increasing trend towards the adoption of shared, connected, and zero-emission/electric mobility. This article focusses on the rise of electric mobility and an opportunity for India to become a global EV manufacturing hub.

Coal Will Keep the Lights on: How to Mitigate the Climate Risk

Coal, a fossil fuel, is the largest source of energy primarily used to produce electricity and heat through combustion. Coal gasification can be used to produce syn-gas, which can be further transformed into transportation fuel such as gasoline and diesel. Coal can also be directly liquefied into diesel through highly sophisticated techniques. Coal liquefaction is one of the backstop technologies that could potentially limit escalation of oil prices. Coal will have a key role to discharge in the overall energy mix. In a developing country like India, growth in energy consumption is entwined with economic growth. Coal, being a cost-effective energy resource in contrast to a very low hydrocarbon resource potential, remains the focus of attention of energy planners ever since the oil crunch of the early '70s.

From picturesque locations to historical temples, Bhadradri Kothagudem is all about ‘inclusive development’

The recently formed district of Bhadradri Kothagudem is home to one of the oldest temples in India. Situated on the banks of river Godavari, Bhadrachlam is not only a holy pilgrimage site but also a testimony of India’s prosperous ancient civilization and rich heritage. With this background, it was more thrilling to understand the current efforts being taken for the development of the district.

The Aspirational Story of Rampura

A fascinating facilitation framework has been provided by NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP), which ensures that development initiatives reach the grassroots level. ADP enables cooperation and coordination between the district, state and Union government to aid the community’s well-being across developmental sectors of agriculture, education, financial inclusion, health and infrastructure.

Padhe Balrampur, Badhe Balrampur

As I look outside the window of my office, I recollect my conversations with young Dinesh, whom I recently met during my three-day visit to Balrampur district of the ‘Balrampur Cheeni’ fame. My visit was part of a performance-evaluation exercise for the aspirational districts.

A Craggy Start to a Smooth Ride

A six-hour drive from Siliguri, through bumpy roads in the hills, lies West Sikkim. Since I have always lived in the plains, when in such places, I always wonder how people stay in such remote locations with such poor road connectivity? In fact, the long drive made it clear to me as to why West Sikkim was selected as an aspirational district. However, my perception changed once I visited some of the public institutions of the district.

Dynamic Darrang: Transforming Last-Mile Delivery in Education

Nestled in a narrow strip of fertile plains, between the mighty Bramhaputra and the breathtaking Himalayas, lies the bustling town of Mangaldoi, at the heart of Darrang district in Assam. A mere hour and a half by road from the Guwahati Airport, the town, distinct with its robust workforce and newly paved roads, represents the aspirations of a growing population of nine lakh people.

Addressing School Dropout in Tribal Dominated Aspirational District of Odisha

Naturally rich but economically poor, Malkangiri in Odisha, a neighbour of Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, has been majorly impacted by left-wing extremism that has acted as a major roadblock for development in the area. The hilly terrain and dense forests have also proven to be a safe haven for the Naxalites. In last few years, over 150 people, including 80 policemen, have been killed in gunfire and landmine blasts. Despite this, various interventions made by the district administration have enabled Malkangiri to grow and flourish.

Diversifying Skill Training and Livelihood Opportunities in Kupwara

One thing that really struck me during my visit to Kupwara, apart from the scenic beauty of this district—situated at an average altitude of 5300 feet from the sea level and bound by the line of control towards the north—is the amazing potential its rural economy possesses. As a village elder pointed out during my interaction with the youth and progressive farmers in Kuchloo, ‘Youth in the region feel strongly connected to the local ecosystem.’ In Gulgam, where I participated in the inauguration of a honey processing unit, the district administration, led by the district development commissioner, was working on labeling and marketing ‘Kupwara honey’ for national and international markets.  The beekeepers were encouraged to register themselves with Farmers’ Producer Organisation (FPO) so they could be provided identity cards to enable easy movement outside the district and the state.

How the Khawa Cluster in Osmanabad Is Changing Lives En Masse

One of the perks of working in the development sector is gaining steady exposure to intricate, yet localised, problems that require a nuanced understanding of the complex interplay of state policy, environmental conditions and socio-economic practices prevailing in the area. A field visit to the Osmanabad district of Maharashtra provided me one such opportunity. Located in the parched Marathwada region of southern Maharashtra, Osmanabad is in many ways a slave of its geography. Comprising eight blocks, more than half of its geographical area lies in the lap of the Balaghat mountain range. The forest cover of the district is merely 0.81% and can be categorised as a mix of dry mixed deciduous and thorny open scrub types. Major tree varieties found here include neem, peepal, banyan, mango, tamarind, etc., among which, afforestation drives have focused disproportionately on planting neem saplings as they are not relished by stray cattle. The Bhoom tahsil is particularly blessed with attractive geography which, at times, resembles the undulating green pastures of Switzerland. Therefore, the local population has gravitated towards animal husbandry as a financially viable alternative to traditional farming dependent on vagaries of monsoon rains, which are rather erratic and almost invariably, deficient.

Wills of Steel

“Do you mean to say that Indians can produce Steel rails as per British specifications. If they succeed in making it then I will eat every pound of that steel” remarked Fredrick Upcott, the Chief Commissioner of Indian Railways and taking up the gauntlet TISCO supplied 1500 miles of Steel Rails to the British Railway during WWI and then Sir Dorabji Tata famously said I think that Mr. Upcott would have suffered slight indigestion.