Former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on Saturday suggested the launch of a comprehensive skill-based empowerment mission in Uttar Pradesh. He was speaking at the UP Development Conclave organised by Hindustan Times and Hindustan.
This mission, he said, would require creating a skill map of UP to provide gainful employment to over 25 lakh unemployed youth in the state.
Dr Kalam also recommended setting up 100,000 social enterprises across the state to serve its 200 million people.
Each of these social enterprises, he said, could employ about 50 social entrepreneurs who can be the educated unemployed youth with a will to be a partner in the development and empowerment of Uttar Pradesh.
Industry and academia could take up the task of training these social entrepreneurs as per the need, he suggested.
In the presence of chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Dr Kalam said, "These social entrepreneurs of UP can work with the communities at the grassroot level along the empowerment radar. This will also help find value added employment for the 25 lakh unemployed and underemployed youth in the state and open avenues for additional youth."
He also suggested modernising the existing airports for tourist traffic and upgrading Lucknow, Agra, Allahabad and Varanasi to international standards. Airlines should be linked with a high-speed coordinated rail and road network for rapid transit between the three modes of transport, he added.
With the country's youngest CM listening intently, the former President spoke on how to "empower 200 million" by laying out a comprehensive plan for developing and tapping the varied skills of the people here.
The UP government, he said, could launch a statewide mission of social entrepreneurship for the youth.
"For example, such a social enterprise can take up the task of procuring local raw materials, say mangoes in Malihabad, and process it into nutrition-fortified food, and make it available to the masses with a priority to the local markets with only the necessary margins on price," he said.
"This way, the social entrepreneur will be the bridge among local products, local nutritional needs, technology and marketing," he said. Emphasising on the need to develop important UP cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Noida and Meerut, he suggested the state government could also set up a UP Skill Enterprise Corporation with a private-public partnership model which can identify young talent in traditional skills in colleges and shop floors and invest in them to emerge as entrepreneurs.
He said, "Through targeted training across ITIs, youth workshops, marketing technological process enhancements and other interventions, UP can benefit. Each district will clearly identify its skill sets, its potential and how to go about achieving the mission of developing an economy based around the skills.
Also, they can benchmark themselves against one another, and find avenues and distribution support, investment of collaboration towards the common good of the state. This will lead to the formation of industrial hubs in many areas, including Bhadohi, Moraabad, Aligarh, Agra and Sonebhadra," he said.
The skill map of UP, he suggested, can come from the contribution of academic institutions and the district administration across all the towns in the state and objectively indicate the present state and potential of a particular skill set in the region.
"This can be mapped as skill index, in the form of present and potential, for each of the skills identified and would serve as a reference tool to the administrators at the district and state levels," he proposed.
Along with this, Dr Kalam suggested the need for a "carefully drawn economic map of the state" across various districts and skill zones, according to the per capita income and Human Development Index.
Giving a graphic description of what the skill and economic map could be like, Dr Kalam said, "the skill map and the economic map of the state will be superimposed and then the gaps between the potential and realisation of the skill can be identified."
Batting for the 100 million youths, he said, "UP is home to every fifth youth in the nation."
My expert friends tell me that by 2016, out of every 100 skilled jobs being generated worldwide, about 8 can come directly from Uttar Pradesh alone. With this background, the government, media, industry and corporates of the state have a tremendous opportunity and a significant role to play which would not only to the state, but the nation as well."
Dr Kalam's suggestion drew an instant applause from the august audience that had gathered to listen to the great man who during his days at the Rashtrapati Bhawan was referred to as the "People's President."
He said his suggestion could help the state to enhance its present per capita income from Rs. 26,051 to over Rs. 1 lakh through added employment for all its youth.
But for that to happen, he said, the government would have to ensure mapping all the districts in the state with their core competencies in terms of skills across the dimensions of art, music, handicraft, agro products, cuisines and literature.
UP's strength, he said, were its '100 million young people beaming with energy and ideas. The need is to channelise the energy."