IIM Bangalore welcomes the second cohort of 79 Fellows of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship on October 25
27 October, 2021, Bengaluru: “As we are moving towards an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, tremendous transformation is taking place across sectors, which will create demand for new skills and more skilled professionals. Hence, skill mapping at the district level and directing skill development efforts are the need of the hour,” said Chief Guest Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, at the inauguration of the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship Phase II.
In 2020, with the support of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India, IIMB launched the Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship, a programme which is designed and delivered by IIMB. MGNF, a two-year programme, is a unique opportunity for young, dynamic individuals to contribute to enhancing skill development and promote rural employment at the district level.
Phase II of MGNF was inaugurated on October 25 with 79 Fellows joining the programme at IIMB. Due to COVID 19 restrictions, unlike last year, this year the programme has been launched in distributed format with the participants joining their respective colleagues in Agartala, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh. The institute welcome to the incoming cohort of MGNF Phase II Fellows was initiated at 8:30 am and the nation-wide digital inauguration was done at 11:30 am, on the same day.
Dharmendra Pradhan urged the Fellows to act as catalysts of social change at the grassroots by driving skill development efforts. “District Collectors and the IIMs have to facilitate the Fellows and script a success story of change through this Fellowship programme. I call upon the Fellows to work with global thinking and local approach, including integrating local language in the skill development efforts.”
The minister outlined the vision to create strong convergence between education and skills and recent initiatives in this direction, “The IIMs need to make the Fellows well versed with the National Education Policy,” he advised.
The orientation ceremony for the second phase Fellows had other dignitaries from the Government of India (GoI) addressing the cohort. They included Special Guest Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, GoI; Rajesh Aggarwal, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, GoI, as well as District Collectors who shared their view on the impact of MGNF Phase I on improving the skilling ecosystem at the district level, Mission Directors of State Skill Development Missions and other stakeholders. Fellows from MGNF Phase I also addressed the new entrants and shared their own experiences.
Terming MGNF as a truly ‘magical’ programme in his address, Prof. Arnab Mukherji, Programme Director, Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship (MGNF) and faculty from the Public Policy area of IIMB, said that through this programme high energy, young individuals can advance the goals of MSDE and the government at the district level. “Today, there are GI tags for district level products, data repositories, infrastructure projects and plans for skill development, and all that have been possible because of the MGN Fellows. Earlier this month, we received the prototype package under brand ‘Churya’ that our Fellow from Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand is supporting.”
Prof. Mukherji shared that last year, more than 2,000 candidates appeared for the admissions process and the first cohort had 69 fellows. “The programme has become even more competitive in Phase II in that 24,000 candidates appeared for the nearly 660 seats in Phase II.”
Explaining the structure of the programme, he said, “There are two phases in the MGNF journey, the Academic Module and the District Immersion Module, which are critically intertwined with each other. The District Immersion Module will provide you with a setting to learn about public administration, about the district you will reside in, the various schemes and activities supported by the MSDE at the state level, and you will actively participate in strengthening the District Skill Committee and support the formulation of the District Skill Development Plan. Other activities that reflect the priorities of MSDE or local issues will also come your way. Our Phase I Fellows supported the district missions on COVID duty in many ways”, lauded Prof. Mukherji.
He further explained that some of the activities required clarity of thought, understanding the functioning of the economy, foundational issues around development processes and the institutional basis for public policy formulation. “The Academic Module at the IIMs provides the Fellows these inputs in different ways. The most obvious way is through the classroom interactions that include lectures by eminent professors, case study analysis and workshops to enhance experiential learning. Moreover, when District Immersion is ongoing, the IIMs will be in touch with their Fellows through the strategically located State Resource Associate, the SRA. An employee of the IIM, the SRA will support the Fellows by coaching them on their interactions with both the District Administration and the relevant IIM. Not only does this allow the Academic Module to go beyond the classroom to influence the Fellow's engagement in the district, it also allows for the possibility of the district to leverage the academic resources of the host IIM and explore industry linkages that may not be accessible otherwise. We have seen links with a number of start-ups emerge and even relationships with established manufacturing entities are visible now in some of our Phase I districts due to the efforts of the Fellows”, he highlighted.
Prof. Mukherji pointed out that being a programme that has academic guidance and parallel on-the-job training, MGNF strengthens both learning through practice and practice through learning. “You can all be change makers, and MGNF gives you the pathway to use skill development to create growth and economic development in the country. MGNF is a watershed moment in your lives, and through your efforts, it will also bring change at the ground level”.
Under the aegis of the Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) project of the MSDE, IIMB was involved with a pilot cohort of 69 Fellows based in six states. The implementation of the programme has been a great success and has garnered immense appreciation from various stakeholders.
Phase II of the MGNF is a nation-wide roll-out in collaboration with other IIMs in an attempt at creating change for a ground-up, district-based, skill-based economy in India. The programme has been launched for 661 Fellows in nine IIMs at the same time and on the same day.