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March 24, 2018

Harvard South Asia Institute and Tata Trusts concludes project on ‘Livelihood Creation in India’

New Delhi :  The Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) in collaboration with Tata Trusts successfully organized concluding ceremony for the 18-months project on ‘Livelihood Creation In India’ ( http://southasiainstitute.harvard.edu/livelihood-creation-project/ ) at the hotel ‘The Taj Mahal’ in New Delhi. The event showcased an overview of ‘Livelihood Creation in India’ that focuses on three key areas: Rural Livelihood Creation in the handicrafts and handloom sectors; Educational, Social and Economic Empowerment of Women; and Science and Technology-based Social Entrepreneurship.

The project aimed at filling the capacity gaps through residential workshops jointly conducted by Harvard Faculty and in-region experts. The workshop on science and technology based social entrepreneurship was conducted in collaboration with IIT Delhi and focused on diverse themes including business perspectives to social entrepreneurship, perspectives from the government, design for success and impact, perspectives from the industry, and leveraging external resources. Over 25 social entrepreneurs from 14 states were shortlisted for this workshop.

A vital part of this project was to stimulate interventions and scale up existing initiatives that can lead to greater impact in select geographies. Social innovation grants totalling INR 50 lakhs were given to 12 budding social entrepreneurs and crafts enterprises in India to achieve this objective.

Rural Livelihood Creation in the handicrafts and handloom sectors, with the mentoring and grant support under the project impacted lives of 1,80,000 artisans with a “retention of artisans in villages and return back of artisans to villages” as the major impact. Craftizen led by Mayura Balasubramanian,The Handloom School led by Sharda Gautam, Chitrika by Vijaya Switha, Raah Foundation led by Sarika Kulkarni, Freeset by Janet Rogers and Kumaun Grameen Udyog by Sarika Samdani were the grantee organizations which worked to change the people’s perspective to craft sector as “Sunrise Industry” and not a “Sunset Industry”.

Shri Ashoke Chatterjee, President, Craft Council of India highlighted the fact to treat Craft as an intellect based on creativity and not just a “Skill”. He advocated the recognition of craft as proper industry and special treatment for being the 2nd largest sector, after agriculture providing livelihood in the country. He also shared importance of conduct a statistical survey of artisans for development of policy for them.

Delhi-based Smart Joules, a social enterprise that aims at eliminating wasted energy in India, was one such grantee that received support and mentor-ship as part of the project on Science and Technology based Social Entrepreneurship. The organization deploys various energy efficient technologies that reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings.

Dr. Shashank Shah, Visiting Scholar, Harvard Business School and Project Director and Fellow Harvard University SAI, who led the project said, “It has been an enriching experience to lead the project. Smart Joules has a vision and commitment in working towards bringing more than 300 million Indians out of energy poverty. Harvard SAI is happy to support them in their passion and technology-based ideas to create a cleaner society.”

Professor Tarun Khanna, Director, Harvard University South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; and Chairman, NITI Aayog Expert Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, and Faculty Chair of this project, shared the project findings and outcomes, at the event. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “The South Asian Region is a laboratory for entrepreneurship, technological advancement and cultural diversity. The Harvard SAI consistently makes efforts to use its multi-disciplinary faculty expertise to contribute to India and the region with research-based learning and interventions.”

Shri Manish Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, National Skill Development Corporation shared the NSDC vision to support livelihood visions and committed NSDC’s support for skill specific needs in the projects.

“The core objective at Tata Trusts”, said Ganesh Neelam, Head, Technology and Innovations, Tata Trusts; and Director, Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) & Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) “is ‘making a sustainable difference in the quality of life’ for communities we work with. Science and technology play a critical role in resolving the challenges faced by them and the Trusts’ collaboration with Harvard University SAI is a step towards identifying some of the best possible technology solutions, to address barriers being faced in the areas of livelihoods, healthcare and education to name a few. With the key focus being scalable social impact, this programme brings together multi-sectoral strengths to create a platform for capacity elevation and innovation across the country.

“Tata Trusts have historically supported visionary individuals and organizations with the passion to promote India’s rich crafts and their potential for creating dignified livelihoods for our artisans. This collaborative effort with Harvard University SAI is an effort to build an engaging network of organizations that share a common purpose to rejuvenate India’s crafts and its practicing artisan communities with the intent to deliver catalytic economic and social impact. Social entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations and artisan collectives came together under this unique program to learn from each other, get mentoring, pitch innovative ideas and receive seed funding to fund a passion project. The intent was to create an enriching experience for key players in the sector to help deliver resilient and sustained impact in artisan communities they work with” said Reshma Anand, Head Partnerships, Strategy and Crafts, Tata Trusts.

Later, two panel discussions followed. The first one was on Rural Livelihood Creation in the Indian Crafts Sector, anchored by Dr. Vandana Bhandari, Former Dean and Professor National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi. The second on ‘Science and Technology Based Social Entrepreneurship’ was anchored by Professor Tarun Khanna.

As a culmination of the project, the Harvard team released three publications which included reflections by subject experts and showcased some of the high impact interventions by participating organizations. These included:
— Innovation in Tradition: Rural Livelihood Creation in the Indian Crafts Sector
— Science for Society: Science and Technology Based Social Entrepreneurship
— Task-shifting in Healthcare: Reframing the AYUSH Debate


 About Smart Joules, Delhi

Smart Joules’ mission is to eliminate wasted energy in India by transitioning large buildings and factories to the most efficient technologies and operational practices. Their vision is an India where each household has access to uninterrupted and affordable energy. Smart Joules has developed a real-time and continuous energy auditing solutions for commercial buildings in India that is comprehensive, reliable, easy to use, and cost-effective. Smart Joules deploys other energy efficient technologies that reduce energy consumption in commercial buildings. They are developing a suite of hardware and software products to allow for continuous energy optimization and virtual controls of central air conditioning plants.

About Harvard University’s South Asia Institute

The Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) engages faculty and students through interdisciplinary programs to advance and deepen the teaching and research on global issues relevant to South Asia. Over the past decade, SAI has built an extensive network of stakeholders across India who have played significant roles impacting social entrepreneurship and livelihood creation in the country. Its network includes over 1,700 Harvard alumni across disciplines who have returned to India and lead organizations in the public and private sector, and over 100 faculty members who focus their cutting-edge research and teaching on issues and subjects directly related to South Asia. SAI organizes 70 events annually which include seminars, symposiums, workshops and webinars in Boston (USA) and in India. Through these meetings, SAI regularly partners with experts and leaders in the government, academia and civil society organizations.

About the project

Under the project, 125 organizations from across 15 states in India were shortlisted through a rigorous selection process. Based on the needs of the participating organizations, four capacity building and strengthening workshops were developed and delivered in January-February 2016 with the overarching themes of ‘Rural Livelihood Creation in the Indian Crafts Sector’ and ‘Science and Technology Based Social Entrepreneurship’. A total of 16 organizations also received social innovation grants of INR 50 lakhs. A total of 12 organizations have been showcased in the publications.

About Tata Trusts

Tata Trusts is amongst India’s oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organizations that work in several areas of community development.  Since its inception, Tata Trusts has played a pioneering role in transforming traditional ideas of philanthropy to make impactful sustainable change in the lives of the communities served. Through direct implementation, co-partnership strategies and grant making, the Trusts support and drive innovation in the areas of education; healthcare and nutrition; rural livelihoods; natural resources management; enhancing civil society and governance and media, arts, crafts and culture. Tata Trusts continue to be guided by the principles of its Founder, Jamsetji Tata and through his vision of proactive philanthropy, the Trusts catalyses societal development while ensuring that initiatives and interventions have a contemporary relevance to the nation.

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