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“Skilling, reskilling and upskilling as a mission to take the country forward”: Shri Dharmendra Pradhan

The Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, GoI, delivered the keynote address at the Valedictory Ceremony of Phase 2 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship

31 October, 2023, Bengaluru: “Today being the ‘Rashtriya Ekta Diwas’ (National Unity Day) celebrating Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birthday, is a great day for the Convocation of Phase 2 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship Programme. Currently, it is a great time for India, for all of us. The country is growing phenomenally, unemployment rate is coming down, female participation in workforce is rapidly rising, and today India is world’s 5th largest economy. The country is poised for further growth in diverse spheres, and I urge all the Fellows who are graduating today to take up skilling, reskilling and upskilling as a mission to take the country forward”, said Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, Government of India, during his address at the Valedictory Ceremony of Phase 2 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) Programme. 

The successful completion of Phase 2 of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship Programme at IIM Bangalore, with the support of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India, was marked by a Valedictory Ceremony, held by the Centre for Public Policy (CPP) of IIM Bangalore, on 31st October 2023, in the presence of Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM Bangalore, Prof. Anil B Suraj, Chairperson, N.S. Ramaswamy Pre-doctoral Fellowship and faculty of Public Policy, IIMB, the MGNF Programme Managers and other faculty and staff of the institute.

The virtual Convocation was held by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, New Delhi, in the presence of dignitaries representing the Government of India.

Prof. Arnab Mukherji, MGNF Programme Director and Chairperson, Post Graduate Programme in Public Policy and Management, IIM Bangalore, delivered the welcome address. A video documentary on the programme developed by the MGNF team was screened.

Keynote address and release of IIM Bangalore MGNF Report

Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, who joined the ceremony online, delivered an inspiring address, during which he said that the experiences of the Fellows have been evaluated and documented in the MGNF Report and all the Fellows will get credit equivalents.

Stating that India is equipped and prepared to become a skilling hub, he said, “India’s digital public infrastructure, its start-up ecosystem, deep tech, semiconductor industry are all thriving. India is the third energy consumer in the world. During the recent G20 summit, the Indian Global Biofuel Alliance was conceptualized. We have the ‘Vishwakarma Yojana’, a Central Sector Scheme, to provide end-to-end support to artisans and craftspeople who work with their hands and tools. A new skilling ecosystem is emerging, and global linkage is coming up. To structure, facilitate and enhance this transition from a traditional to the futuristic skilling ecosystem, is your responsibility – you are the catalysts of this change. As you reach this milestone today, do remember that more important than any academic degree, is competence.” 

The other government dignitaries present during the online ceremony were Shri Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, MSDE and Shri K. Sanjay Murthy, Secretary, Higher Education, both of whom in their addresses stressed on the importance of integrating skilling with education. Stating that MGNF is a shining example of the essence of the National Education Policy, Shri Atul Kumar Tiwari said that the MGN Fellows have provided invaluable support in meeting local skilling requirements and have energized skill development at the grassroots. Shri K. Sanjay Murthy pointed out that the Fellows have contributed significantly through their work on the field and that the IIMs can use their case studies to ensure greater experiential learning for the Fellows.

Thereafter, the dignitaries released the IIM Bangalore MGNF Report.

Fellows from individual IIMs shared their experiences during their MGNF journey and their takeaways from the programme, highlighting the support received from district ecosystems and IIMs in translating their academic learning into institutionalizing and strengthening competencies at the grassroots.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Shri Nilambuj Sharan, Sr. Economic Advisor, MSDE, who thanked the mentors, IIMs and Fellows for this collaboration to boost vocational education in the country.

Chief Guest address

Shri Rajeev Gowda, Vice Chairman, State Institute for Transformation of Karnataka (SITK), the Chief Guest for the event, delivered a special address on, ‘Development Paths in Karnataka: A View through the SITK Lens’. He focussed his talk on development plans beyond Bengaluru and correcting regional imbalances, thinking beyond the short term and beyond partnerships, adding, “The Karnataka model of development has parameters like innovation, equity, social harmony, legacy, bottom-up approach and a people-centric approach. We would like to emerge as a trailblazer for inclusive and sustainable development.”

Congratulating the Fellows on achieving this milestone, he said, “MGNF gives you the opportunity to analyze what is happening and what is NOT happening in order to fix the challenges and bring about change. I suggest that a session be held to get inputs from the district administration and the Fellows.”

Message from Programme Director

This was followed by an address by Prof. Arnab Mukherji, in which he shared the MGNF journey highlighting the achievements of the programme. “MGNF has added immense value, as pointed out by the Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu, during her address when she inaugurated IIMB’s Golden Jubilee Foundation Week celebrations on 26th October. Your roles as MGN Fellows is challenging since you have to work with and navigate your way around multiple stakeholders. This gives you a sense of influence in how you choose projects and invest your time in boosting districts. The programme gives you unlimited responsibility and mandate to find solutions. Your ability to choose projects requires not only soft skills, but sharp skills as well. I am happy to say that all you Fellows have mastered the three ‘P’s – Planning, Persuasion and Perseverance. Your range of experiences will prove to be a gateway to many more invaluable experiences.”

Award of certificates

While certificates were awarded to all the MGNF Fellows of Phase 2, the best performers were felicitated during the ceremony. Out of the 71 Fellows who graduated, 70 received their certificates in person, while one received in absentia.

The top performers were awarded in two categories – academic and on the basis of nomination from Fellows. On the academic front, Shama Pradeep Kamble, Nitin Kumar, H P Manoj, Debasis Acharya, Gargi Sur and Shailja Santore are the winners from Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, Tripura and Uttarakhand respectively. The nominated winners are Bindiya Gadkar, Akshay Kumar, Ashish Shetty, Pallavi Mishra, Balbhadra Senapati, Subhasis Mondal and Kartikeya Kotnala from Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Odisha, Odisha, Tripura and Uttarakhand respectively.

A documentary on the MGNF journey in Karnataka was screened, followed by the release of a book by Fellow Abhishek Gujaral from Sirsa district, Haryana.

Some of the Fellows from Phase 1 of the programme who attended the event shared their experiences and the social impact they are bringing across the development sector. They summed up by saying MGNF has created impact beyond skill development as it has created critical thinkers – it has created a brand, changed mindsets and equipped the Fellows to handle issues in other spheres of life. They had a special word of thanks for the faculty mentors who have given them a great boost of confidence. They also pointed out how sustainability of the initiatives is a challenge that needs to be looked into.

Programme Director Prof. Rajalaxmi Kamath of the Public Policy area of IIMB, while delivering the vote of thanks, thanked the Fellows for their hard work and added, “I wish you all a long and fruitful journey. You have made all of this very memorable for us as well.”

To showcase the impactful interventions of the Fellows which were carried out in six states of India, namely, Haryana, Odisha, Tripura, Karnataka, Goa and Uttarakhand, and exhibit handicrafts procured from local artisans and Self-Help Groups (SHGs) from districts where they were deployed, a poster presentation and exhibition of handicrafts were held on 30th and 31st October 2023. Documentary films, created from across various states, were screened during this pre-event.

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