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The Lady who believes in 'Transforming Education for Human Flourishing'

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines and opens up many venues to learn from.For me, education encompasses but goes beyond academics. As an education futurist, I wanted to create a space for the next generations to learn without fear, to face the highly technical world through student centric approaches such as blended learning and Problem based learning to acquire the essential life skills, to prepare them to face the future both technically and emotionally. The journey from ‘ME(just me)’ to ‘WE(me and my team)’ is helping in transforming education for human flourishing. We were one of the early Google Hangout users to invite people from around the world to interact with our school children online to share their experiences and ideas. We introduced futuristic digital solutions which helped in broadening boundaries for teachers and students to learn beyond classroom or school. We love to conduct workshops for students on how to be empathetic—and we use an 8-month-old baby for this practical session where the students identify the similarities and differences between them and the baby. They learn in-spite of the differences; it does not make the baby any less adorable. We help them to apply this learning with their peer group. Our school rule 5:1, “Mention five good things before making one complaint” is a super success, which helps students to learn and appreciate the good in others. It is important to create awareness about civic sense and social responsibility by involving students in live, real-world projects. We encourage our students to participate in social activities such as volunteering for Save Water and Nature (SWAN), Car-Free Thursdays, Raahagiri, Beat Plastic and Rally for Rivers.  We raised funds and donated to Hyderabad Urban Makeover, Robinhood Army, Bring a Smile, One Lakh Hands, Rice Bucket Challenge and Project Recycle Bin. We adopted a few orphanages and old age homes as well. We started campaigns such as ‘Adopt a Tree & Save Earth’, ‘Lead by example’ and ‘Beat Plastic’. Experiencing the joy through the art of giving from a tender age plays a major role in moulding child’s character. Our Problem-based learning (PBL) projects have a student-centered approach in which students learn about a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem. This problem is what drives the motivation and the learning. Our Meedikunta Lake (urban lake) revival stands a true example for this. This project created many avenues for students to learn by gathering necessary information and explore the issue. They learned to identify the problem, new concepts, principles and skills. The process involved them in estimating to solve it, collaboration to get it rolling, team work to support each other, leadership to take responsibility and presentation to share their plan of action.  Ideation, implementation, accountability, auditing and performance review helped improve the life skills in our students. This self funded project of reviving Meedikunta lake, Miyapur, Hyderabad, benefited not just our school students but also other schools, colleges, business outlets, 150,000+ pilgrims visiting religious outlets and around 9,000 families living around it. Please visit www.fhgs.in/charity for reference.Between problem identification and solution, we could create a complete hands on experience for learning. Throughout our life, our perspective evolves due to personal experiences, exposure, and relationships. School is the best place where one can take an issue and turn it into an opportunity to learn. These can help one to transform their views and understand new topics in a better perspective. Transformation is the outcome of all authentic learning. Thank youMeghana MusunuriFounder & Chairperson (Bodhivriksha Educational Society)Correspondent & Principal (Fountainhead Global School, Hyderabad)
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Importance of holistic monitoring & evaluation of the education governance system

"Skill  India", " AtmaNirbhar Bharat", " Make in India", "New India", "Literacy, Numeracy, Global Attributes" is what we are all striving for and deliberating upon. But how do we ensure desired impact and alignment with the common vision? With a well thought road map backed by hard work, perseverance and sincere approach towards achieving excellence, each educational organization under collaborative mode may lead to a success story for learners as envisaged by the NEP 2020 .COAE INTERNATIONAL embarked upon a journey to handhold educational establishments like early childhood education, school education, higher education and the L&D sector to establish systems that enable purposeful and valuable outcomes for all stakeholders alike. Our assessments for school systems started as a result of the need identified to have robust processes that encourage ownership by every stakeholder, improve individual and organizational outputs, ensure sustainability through continuous monitoring and cyclic improvements. The idea that led to emergence of these services was to inculcate a culture that included organizational improvement by establishing standards, benchmarks and recognizing effective practices being implemented in the education sector.  These were achieved by validating/ certifying the systems and enabling the same to get celebrated across the world. We set on our mission to connect with schools and institutes that would agree with our thought process. The schools were then identified and motivated to discuss and rethink their purpose, ethos and vision of existence. After working with more than 100 private as well as govt. schools in India and outside, we were able understand that there is a critical and continuous need for the schools to evaluate the degree to which they meet the requirements of learners and other beneficiaries and to improve their ability to continue to do so. Our research analysis helped us to categorize two major gaps in the school governance models- 1. Ineffective teaching skills and 2. Inconsistent educational practices. Based on our research, we found that more than 60% of the teachers spent their major academic time in the administrative tasks which did not add any value to their teaching-learning profile. This led to their inability in enhancing or empowering themselves to keep pace with the current and future needs of learners. Thus emerged a clear need to streamline our educational management processes and systems leading to clarity of contribution, roles and accountability of all stakeholders including learners, teachers, parents, management, regulatory bodies and all connected with an empowered educational community. At COAE, the endeavour has been to design, develop and implement assessment tools and frameworks for evaluating educators’ skills and effectiveness of educational systems. The frameworks used by COAE meet the global standards, national & regional requirements, are credible, implementable, feasible, transparent, objective and include an underlying measure of acceptability and credibility. We have partnered with schools not only across different states of India (Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat etc.) but across the Western Asian countries and continuing to reach out. More than 5,000 school leaders have been trained and empowered to continually and progressively work towards increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of their academic and administrative systems. We have been sharing and creating awareness among the educational fraternity through a range of activities like training, handholding, auditing, assessing and certifying. In order to further encourage, recognise and celebrate the enthusiastic and competent teachers; we at COAE conducted a recommendation and jury-screening based award ceremony and felicitated around 220 Indian teachers (out of overwhelming 1200 applicants) from India, London, Singapore, UAE and Australia on 5th September 2020 being the TEACHER’s DAY. These self-motivated teachers who ensured the achievement of learning outcomes by making teaching-learning an enjoyable process during the pandemic are now setting benchmarks and positive examples of learner-focus for the teaching fraternity.We are happy to share that in our mission to bring positive and measurable transformation in educational systems, we are being supported by like-minded passionate educationists across the globe.. We hope that the trend will have a ripple effect and be replicated across this vast pool of academia that is strengthening the roots and economies of the world.  We look forward to collaborations and are eager to contribute our strength, experience and knowledge of the domain. The validation by our partner schools prove that our assessments which are based on global standards, technology-driven approach and effective analysis, are able to give adequate direction towards ensuring learner centred learning in their schools. Our activities support the visionary leaders to empower and engage all stakeholders in delivering value, manage all school activities as interrelated processes that function as a coherent system, create new opportunities by producing desired results, create ethical professional environment and inclusive practices, ensure safety & security of learners and other beneficiaries and improve risk-management due to sustainable practices. We have been able to reach more than 500 schools, around 15,000 educators, 2000 school leaders and have impacted more than a million students so far.By including “Standard Setting and Accreditation of School Education”, the National Education Policy 2020 has given wings to our vision and COAE is all set to embark another journey to scale its services through public-private partnerships for transformation of the school governance system via holistic monitoring and evaluation practices. Directorate of Education, the Haryana State Government is the first one to partner with us for the implementation of the NEP 2020. The journey continues…..
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Creating school-parent connections for foundational learning using technology

In recent years, early childhood care and education has started to draw a lot of attention especially with those coming from relatively higher economic classes. NEP 2020 echoes the basic understanding that 85% of childrens’ brain development happens by the age of 8. Individuals and school systems are increasingly starting to see the value in engaging these young ones in age appropriate materials and activities both at school and at home - beautifully illustrated story books, child friendly play material, well-designed play areas and so on. The fallout of not having access to such learning experiences too has been researched and documented over the years. The ASER and NAS reports go to show that children in our public education system significantly miss the benchmarks for learning with regards to foundational literacy and numeracy. Only 50.8% children in grade 3 in rural India can read a grade 1 level text, while only 30.6% children in grade 3 in rural India can do a 2-digit subtraction problem task.  Bridging these learning gaps becomes increasingly difficult as the child progresses in years. At Rocket Learning, we work on providing a strong foundational learning for children engaged in the public education systems, anganwadis and schools, through partnerships with state and district governments.A grounding principle for us has been that increased parent engagement and investment, especially in the child’s early years, will significantly boost a child’s learning. This has led us to innovate and design solutions that are low-tech, easy to use and make minimum demands of a parent who might already have a demanding life. For example, a math activity would involve counting of vegetables, arranging spoons according to their size, etc versus making a demand for particular math materials. Rocket Learning has partnered with the administrations of Aurangabad (Maharashtra) and Chandigarh to work with 30,000+ parents across 3,500 pre-schools and anganwadis in these regions. Teachers or Anganwadi Sevikas have created whatsapp groups of parents of their students, and technology enables the government system to send daily audio-visual content to these groups. Parents are asked to send back responses of photos and videos showing how they did the activities with their own children. Teachers play the role of facilitators and motivators, encouraging parents and children and solving any challenges they may be facing. We have seen these groups become vibrant digital communities in which parents and teachers work together and are inspired by each other to ensure learning of their children. Active groups see 50%+ parents responding multiple times a week showcasing the activities they did with their children.During the course of our work, we’ve seen many inspiring stories of parents and teachers going the extra mile for their children, a few of which are mentioned below:Participation of children with disabilities - An anganwadi worker related to us an incident about how a 4 year old child with disability could never go to an anganwadi before. Because of content coming home and caregivers becoming equipped to teach, the child can learn now.Out of school students can learn - We learnt from a parent how they could never send their children to school since it was far from home. Distance is no longer a barrier to learning.Readiness for school - This year has been a loss on many fronts, primary among them being education. Not being prepared for school was a primary concern - parents are now feeling more confident that their child will be ready for school.Inclusion of caregivers in education - There is greater awareness and recognition that caregivers have a critical role in the child’s education - especially in building social-emotional skills and all-round development. The caregiver’s responsibility towards the child’s learning is beyond sending them to school.Based on these early successes and the key role of these digital communities especially when schools and anganwadis are closed during COVID, more governments have shown excitement about adopting such models. We are supporting the UP state government to launch an intervention this month with 150,000+ children in 10,000 schools in the state. Inclusive learning is the holy grail. It can result in equity and equality, which is the fabric of an evolved society. Our hope and belief is that by intensively working with key stakeholders - parents, teachers/ anganwadi workers, education administrators - we will be able to ensure a wider, deeper impact that will sustain beyond our interventions.- By Vibha Iyer, Kishor Jagtap and Utsav Kheria, Rocket Learning
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The Streets of Kukma Village in Bhuj, Gujarat Stand out

When we think of a village we imagine a ‘bargad ka ped’ (Banyan tree) as a focal point, where an elderly wise man takes center stage under the tree, giving out advice to a group of villagers encircled around him, listening to him with full attention. But in today’s story, the position which is often occupied by male folk is altered and is now led by a woman ‘without’ a veil, who carries a strong determination to transform her village into a ‘model’ village.Overcoming this deep-seatexd bias against woman in power is Kankuben Vankar, the Sarpanch of Kukma village in Bhuj, Gujarat.In rural India, women are viewed as caretakers of the family. They have been left out of all strategic decisions that have been taken either in their villages or inside their homes. With no control over resource allocation and zero decision-making power, these women have been elbowing against the age-old patriarchal structures that have limited their socialagency. Woman in power - Kankuben VankarBorn in an extremely disadvantaged family of the Scheduled Caste community (a weavers community), Kankuben could not complete her schooling owing to the financial condition of her family. She was elected as a Panchayat body member in 2011. However, as a member of the Panchayat, she did not get much opportunities to perform her duties. It was her faith in her vision and capabilities that led her to contest for the Sarpanch’s position, in the next term, when one seat was reserved for a person from the SC community.Kankuben contested for it and became the Sarpanch of her village. This event opened doors to changes in the age-old norms and social restrictions that were standing in the way of the development of the village.To enable this, EdelGive’s partner NGO Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS), which works on fostering women’s leadership on socio, economic, political and cultural spheres, hasplayed a significant role. KMVS has developed an elected women representative’s forum, where KMVS trained these elected members to have a gendered approach towards the developmental issues of their villages. Various trainings were conducted to make them aware about their roles and responsibilities as they address the prevailing women’s issue and support them in overcoming the existing barriers. KMVS also initiated a safety programme for women in Kutch, where they actively engage with women electedrepresentatives to help them bring the agenda of safety under their purview.Kankuben was an active member of the forum as well as the trainings by KMVS. KMVS played an active role in building her perspective on important subjects like LocalGovernance and its Role and Functions, Gender Issues, Social Perceptions, Constitutiona Law, among others. Within no time, Kankuben gained confidence and developed theleadership skills required to lead the village as its first female Sarpanch. The streets of Kukma village have a purposeOne of the first interventions that Kankuben took up was to ensure a fall in the dropout rate of the girl child from school. For Kankuben, her aspiration was simple- every girl in her village should be educated. As a solution, she arranged free transportation services for the children, as well as expedited the construction and building of roads for ease of travelling. In one of the safety audit exercise, women and girls from her village shared their safety concerns of accessing public spaces, especially the nearby bus stand. The women and girls have reported the issue of eve teasing earlier as well. These instances greatly restricted their mobility. These incidences increased the dropout rates of girls along with a general apathy towards a particular gender and right to education.As a Sarpanch, Kankuben decided to intervene. She registered an official complain in the nearby police station and used her authority to place enough streetlights on the roads toavoid incidences around eve-teasing and sexual harassment. A discussion during one of the Panchayat meetings led Kankuben and other members to ask a pertinent question – “If a street name can have a man’s name, why not a woman’s?”For Kankuben, this question led to a plethora of underlying issues. One of the critical issues, that kept raising its head time and again, was the issue of lesser girls being able to pursu their higher education. She wanted more and more girls from the community to be inspired to continue their education.She called on the village committee for a discussion and came up with a path-breaking decision – the first of many ground-breaking ideas that she implemented in her village. She announced that the street names of Kukma village would be named after the girls who top education outcomes in the community. This was a small effort on behalf of theadministration to recognise girls who had completed her higher education, and instil confidence in the minds of young girls to not drop out of the education system. Students who have the streets named in their honour A ‘model’ SarpanchSince taking charge, Kankuben has not just worked hard to empower the women of the village, she has also ensured that basic infrastructure like roads, hospital and schools are inplace. She ensured that the ‘feeling of safety’ is nurtured by challenging the patriarchal norms that led to violence. One of the key initiatives she took was to address the social evilof alcoholism in her village by sensitising the community. Along with the Panchayat members, she has also been working on facilitating the various government schemes andloan facilities for villagers who need it the most. A National Award winning Toran artist, Kankuben firmly believes that the development of a village is determined by the development of its women. For her efforts, the Kukma Gram Panchayat was awarded the ‘Best Sarpanch Award’ by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The work that she has been spearheading in her community was recently featured in a BBC documentary. Kankuben’s story is a testimony to how effectively a woman can put her village on the path to progress and change its narrative, if given a chance! About Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS)Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan (KMVS) was founded in 1989 with the objective of organizing rural women of Kutch to facilitate their empowerment.  Since inception, the aim of KMVS has been the empowerment of rural women; and fostering their leadership – economic, political, social and cultural – through conscious-raising, organization and their mobilization into local collectives, capable of independently addressing gender inequities in their region.  About EdelGive FoundationEdelGive Foundation has been supporting KMVS initiatives since 2016. EdelGive Foundation is a grant-making organisation, helping build and expand philanthropy in India by funding and supporting the growth of high-calibre small to mid-sized NGOs. EdelGive makes, receives, and manages grants, to empower vulnerable children, women, and communities via a zero-cost platform.  
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Govt of Odisha’s unique agricultural internship programme to improve extension services for farmers

IntroductionA rampant, but less talked about challenge in Indian agriculture is information asymmetry. From awareness of relevant schemes to information on pest attacks and how to prevent them, crop insurance, seed and fertilizer availability, the average Indian farmer is constantly struggling to get the right information at the right time. While agriculture extension workers act as conduits between the government and farmer, the strength of this workforce and its effectiveness is not ideal.To illustrate this better, according to research, India has a total of 0.12 million agricultural extension workers to serve a net cropped area of 141 million hectares and 158 million operational holdings .  This translates into few extension workers juggling multiple responsibilities and catering to more farmers than they can help effectively.In Odisha there are 3,500 extension workers catering to more than 70 lakh farmers. In some cases, an extension worker has to cover more than 15 Gram Panchayats by themselves. There are clearly vacancies for extension workers which need to be filled. Given that government recruitment is a long-drawn process and the support farmers need is time-sensitive, the agriculture department had to find a way to ramp up the workforce with immediacy. To mitigate this challenge, the Government of Odisha designed a unique solution to supplement its extension workforce.DesignIn July 2019, the Government of Odisha launched the Krushi Unnat Sahjogi Program (Agriculture Development Associates Program) which recruited 487 3rd and 4th year students from 3 agricultural universities to carry out extension activities for the Department of Agriculture. This is a first of its kind initiative in the country given the scope and scale of its operation. Samagra’s ADAPT team supported the state government in designing and implementing the programme.The Agriculture Development Associates programme was aimed at strengthening the extension ecosystem during the peak agriculture season, which is Kharif in Odisha. The detailed programme design included  induction training, a weekly activity calendar and even performance evaluation metrics for student associates.Samagra’s technology team created an app, using open source technology to capture data and outputs of every activity assigned to student associates. This helped in objectively evaluating their performance and making them accountable. Performance-linked bonuses over and above the basic stipend also helped in improving the motivation levels of the associates. ImplementationThe  Associates were involved in multiple activities at the block level related to various schemes and programmes of the Department of Agriculture. This included:1) Scheme adoption2) Field assessments3) Impact assessments4) Data collection5) Farmer profilingTo train the Associates, a detailed onboarding instruction manual was prepared by relevant department heads, which included the role of the associate.An in-person training programme was conducted by the Department for all the associates split into two batches.A weekly action plan was shared with Associates every week through Whatsapp and a Google drive, which delineated their responsibilities for the week.ImpactThe Associates profiled 1 lakh + farmers who are now enrolled in the government’s customised agro advisory service initiative called “Ama Krushi”With the help of Associates, The department was able to successfully conduct pest surveillance in 50% of the total 6,798 Gram Panchayats in the state as compared to 33% GPs in the preceding years.The state was able to reduce the area under preventable pest attacks  to 10,000 Ha in 2019.The department, along with the support of student associates, was able to conduct 1000+ farmer awareness campaigns on topics such as plant protection, correct usage of agri inputs and mobilised over 20,000 farmers  through these campaigns.The Department of Agriculture was able to receive feedback from blocks on the design and implementation of key programmes and schemesAdditionally, based on the feedback collected from farmers by the associates, officers conducted surveys of dealers of agri inputs and were able to track sale of spurious inputs as well as unauthorized sale.This is a unique, hands-on, paid experiential learning opportunity for students in agriculture universities which gives them practical knowledge of agricultural practices to supplement their theoretical training.A structured performance appraisal system, which includes feedback from the Assistant Agriculture Officers they work with, helps in their professional development.
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Digital Classroom Project: Bridging the Digital Divide in Chhattisgarh

While the world is still fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, globally, it has resulted in schools shutting down for over seven months now.  According to the World Economic Forum, over 1.2 billion children are out of their classrooms and the medium to teach and learn has completely shifted to the digital world.  Humana People to People India’s Digital Classroom Project (DCP), implemented in two districts of Chhattisgarh – Mungeli and Raigarh – has been using digital means in the classrooms since before the lockdown. The Project, implemented with the support of Microsoft and Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, aims at imparting technology-based education in classrooms implemented in an engaging manner.The project comprises of two modules; the first is the ‘box solution’ where HPPI provides computers with digital educational content, projectors and speakers for each school.The second is a digital learning assessment platform, wherein students learn individually. The content comprises of 60 topics which are divided into 3 levels. The first level is for grades 1-2, the second level for grades 3-4, and the third level for grade 5. These 60 topics, available digitally, help students easily understand complex concepts.The project also includes the component of promoting literacy among women through the use of technology. The aim of the project is to use the power of technology in spreading literacy among all illiterate community members living near the 16-intervention schools in the two districts. Since the lockdown, the modules used in the DCP are proving to be quite helpful and efficient for the students as well as for the teachers to help them transition to an online environment. As they were already oriented to use a computer and be online, it has been easier for the Project to continue its activities, within the restrictions of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) for protection against the COVID-19. With the lockdown, 16 lab instructors started by visiting their students at their homes. The students were then divided into 277 small groups. With the help of digital resources and 2 laptops each, each instructor teaches a group of 5-6 children for an hour every day. Apart from the lab instructors, teachers from the 16 intervention government schools in Mungeli and Raigarh are also using the available computers to connect with their students online. Around 400 students have attended these online classes using smartphones from their homes. Till date, 2,270 students have enrolled in the Digital Classroom Project. The Project is also supporting the State Government’s flagship programmes ‘Padai Tumhare Dwar’ (Education at your door) and ‘Padai Tumhare Para’ (Education in your village) where education is being bought to the students in a safe environment. HPPI is currently working in seven districts of Chhattisgarh. In Raigarh and Mungeli, we are focusing on ‘Padai Tumhare Dwar’ online education through our Digital Classroom Project, while in Surajpur, Bilaspur, Raipur, Bijapur and Dantewada we are focusing on ‘Padai Tumhare Para’ with the involvement of local Government Teachers or Education Volunteers. Till date, more than 4,500 students from across the seven districts (including students from the DCP) have participated in these classes in small groups. In this initiative, close to 400 government teachers from 117 schools and close to 80 education volunteers have also been associated. This Project is not only bridging the digital divide between urban and rural schools but is also providing continued quality education to students in remote rural areas through the power of technology. 
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SC hosts Virtual Conclave on “Re-emerging and Resilient India”

The ongoing pandemic has evoked multiple discussions, which alluded to developing a rapid recovery plan for building long-term resilience. Recognizing the need to devise an action framework with a common vision for the “New World Order”, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), an international non-profit organization hosted a conclave on “Re-emerging and Resilient India” in partnership with USAID, CEEW, TERI, P4G, and India Climate Collaborative.The aim of the virtual conclave was to bring representatives from the government, international organizations, think tanks, industry leaders, academicians, and practitioners together. The agenda was to discuss various perspectives, challenges, and highlight successful interventions on the ground that can be replicated at scale, to speed up the localization of several initiatives and implement them seamlessly.  The conclave was held in the august presence of Shri Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, Government of India (GoI), who delivered a Special Address at the opening session.Addressing the audience at the conclave, Shri Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, GoI, said, “The pandemic has reinforced the links between health, environment and the economy. The ongoing crisis also demonstrated that governments and individuals can come together and initiate strong and rapid action in the face of an overwhelming challenge. The decisions taken today can provide immediate relief, and secure a lasting economic recovery, increase community resilience and ensure a long-term pathway to sustainable development.”Setting the context at the conclave, Vivek P. Adhia, Country Director-India, Institute for Sustainable Communities said, “This is the opportunity for India to take action and achieve long term sustainable development. At this point, it is critical to have not just a green recovery, but also an inclusive one. As manufacturing expands in the country, boosting growth – practices that enable better access to clean water, clean air and secure livelihoods, can play an important role in building resilient communities and a resilient nation. We call for a calibrated approach that enables coordinated action focusing on the environment, while reaping social and economic benefits.”Speaking of how sustainable recovery could be envisioned and realized for India, Dr. Arunabha Ghosh, Founder-CEO, CEEW, said, “The pandemic brutally exposed the fractures that existed in our system. We need to understand that success in managing such a crisis depends on a robust policy framework and the way it is implemented. The COVID-19 pandemic gives us an opportunity to shape the economic recovery in a manner that would deliver a new social contract between the state, the citizen and the enterprise, one that rests on two pillars: commitment to jobs, growth, and sustainability; and a razor-sharp focus on tail-end risks.”Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute (WRI) spoke about the importance of acting now, and for India to proactively collaborate on the global recovery process, “The world is facing multiple crises, and it is critical that we see them as interconnected and address them together. The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis, and climate change all hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Just as these crises have overlapping effects, we need to pursue solutions that simultaneously deliver short-term benefits while tackling the underlying drivers of social exclusion and environmental degradation. This is a once-in-a-generation moment to redesign our economies and societies to be more resilient, more sustainable and to leave no one behind.”Re-emphasizing ISC’s commitment towards India and the approaches to resilient recovery, Deeohn Ferris, President, Institute for Sustainable Communities added, “ISC is supporting communities around the world to help them address environmental, social and economic challenges to build a better future, shaped and shared by all. In response to COVID-19, we are even more determined to enable communities, women, farmers, cities, and factories in Asia and the United States to not just bounce back, but to advance towards a more resilient and equitable society."Earlier this month, ISC in collaboration with Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) initiated a new dialogue series titled ‘Water and Livelihood Security: The Foundation to Make India Atmanirbhar’, where experts deliberated on the importance of water for overall human development is even more relevant and ways to improve water and livelihood security in India.The power-packed virtual conclave hosted key thought leaders including Ramona El Hamzaoui, Acting Mission Director, USAID/India; Deepali Khanna, Managing Director, Asia Regional Office, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ajith Radhakrishnan, Country Lead, 2030 Water Resources Group; Aditi Maheshwari, Director, Climate Action, UN Secretary General Executive Office; Ian de Cruz – Global Director, P4G Partnering for Green Growth & Global Goals among others.
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Millets - Are These Lesser Known Cereals Slowly Making A Comeback?

They may be lesser known cereals but millets are extremely nutritious, climate-resilient and have been consumed for a very long time in India. And if reports are to be believed they are eventually making a comeback in our diets. While wheat and rice still continue to remain the most preferred cereals, consumption of Jowar, Bajra and Ragi (Millets family) are being promoted at many places across the country.One of the States where millets are apparently replacing the conventional cereals is Odisha, where local administration and NGOs are playing an instrumental role in promoting the cereals.The Odisha Government had launched Odisha Millets Mission (OMM) also known as the Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in tribal areas across 14 districts of the State in 2017 to revive millets in farms and on plates. The sole aim was to fight malnutrition by introducing millets in the public distribution system (PDS) and other state nutrition schemes.For the implementation of project, women Self Help Groups (SHGs) were roped in for educating people on nutritious cooking and diet with a mobile kitchen model.Eventually, Keonjhar became the first district in Odisha to introduce the locally cultivated ragi as a part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for the first time in Odisha and implement it under pre-school meal programme to bolster nutritional dietary intakes.According to a report, 47 quintals of locally-grown ragi has been procured from farmers in Keonjhar to distribute ragi laddu mix to school students. In the month of September, as many as 86,293 pupils have benefited under the scheme.The report added, there are 1990 farmers across 163 villages in Keonjhar district who are earning a livelihood through cultivation of millets. Through various initiatives, farmers are being trained in the district to revive millet farming. Following which, millet cultivation in the district has increased from 190 hectare in 2019 to 774 hectare in 2020.
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