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Should it pay to remain backward?

Anil Swarup

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In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court held that reservation of seats to certain communities was not a Fundamental Right. Indeed, but ever yone would agree that the issue of reservation has come to occupy centre space in Indian polity. Given the contentious nature of the subject, we need to examine the following:

Are reservations serving the ends of social justice?

What is the impact on merit and the quality of service delivered by government?

The practical problems associated with implementing reservation based on economic criteria.

 Is there an alternative way to uplift those who are socially and economically backward?

 Are reservations serving the ends of social justice? Reservation politics has always been at the forefront of Indian polity. The reverberations may not always be as strong as they were in the late 1980s or early 90s but the governments (both at the Centre and in the States) continue to compete with each other in using this as a tool to garner as much political mileage as possible, oblivious, perhaps consciously, of the implications of such moves. They are now going much beyond the original Constitutional mandate for providing reservation for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. On 30th of November, 2018, the Maharashtra legislature passed a bill proposing 16 percent reservation for Marathas under the socially and educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) category. This was upheld by the Bombay High Court though it found 16 percent reservation to the community ‘not justifiable’ and asked the State government to bring it down to 12 percent in educational institutions and 13 percent in government job appointments. West Bengal too ventured into this business of reservation. Mamta Banerjee announced 10 percent reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker sections in general category. This, however, was in tune with the decision of the Central government a few months before that. The irony is that the economic criteria announced by the Central government for ‘economic weakness’ are sufficiently liberal (income below Rs 8 lakhs etc) to accommodate almost 90 percent of Indian households.

The original idea of providing reservation for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was not merely to improve their economic status but also to address the denial of rights and the oppression meted out to them over the years. Have reservations served this purpose? In his seminal book, ’Falling Over Backwards’, Arun Shourie, with his characteristic attention to detail and meticulous research, points to “the truth of reservation: that they are sleight of hand of politicians”. In the first place, the overall availability of reserved jobs against the backdrop of huge unemployment is miniscule. Even these vacancies are not filled in a large number of segments. Reservation benefits in senior level government jobs have been cornered by a select few. How far is it reasonable that a son of a senior civil servant from a backward caste should benefit from reservations, while the son of an upper caste peon is compelled to compete for limited unreserved seats? If at all there has been social justice through provision of reservation in government jobs, only the reserved ‘elite’ seem to have benefitted. Moreover, on account of the obsession with reservation in government service, the acrossthe-board-uplift of such disadvantaged sections of society has suffered. The primary objective has been to somehow, anyhow, get a government job. This has done enormous injustice to the cause of those who are truly economically and socially backward.

One of the other dimensions of social justice should have been to do away with caste based discrimination through social mobility. The idea should have been to blur the caste distinction. The emphasis on reservation has ended up reinforcing this distinction. Even those who have benefitted from reservation consider it beneficial to remain backward so as to continue to reap the benefits. They don’t get integrated in the social set up because they don’t want to. The frustrations among the non-reserved categories gets articulated either in the form of agitation to enter the reservation bandwagon or to treat those benefitting from reservation differently. This has all led to a peculiar situation that has been very aptly brought out in a BBC report: “As more and more people sought fewer available government and university positions we witness the underlying and unwittingly hilarious spectacle of castes fighting with each other to be declared backward.”

In a world of increasing competition and specialisation, reservations run contrary to the requirement of merit. Instead of raising the level of those that are socially and economically backward, we have attempted to lower the bar. This has indeed impacted the quality of delivery. Even if there is some justification for reservation at one level of entry, can reservations at all levels of entry or promotion be justified? All necessary initiatives should be taken to raise the levels of those who have suffered in the past. Even some handicap can be provided at various entry levels but to push the bar below a certain level to accommodate reservation is proving counter-productive. The focus has to shift to over-all development of those who are considered to be backward to pull them up to the desired levels of competence and skills. Investment needs to be made in improving their living conditions, nutrition, education and the like in a more purposeful manner rather help just a few through reservations. They and the entire society can benefit from this approach.

There are practical problems associated with the implementation of economic criteria for providing reservation. This will be a herculean task and will lead to corrupt practices as has been seen in other sectors that are using this criteria. The Right to Education Act mandates that private schools should reserve seats for economically backward students. However, implementing this provision has been nightmarish. The jury is still out to assess whether this has benefitted the target group.

Now, we have run into another problem. Narayan Ramchandran highlights this new problem in the context of reservation in his article in ‘Live Mint’: “The challenge for India is that while many sections of the society remain disadvantaged (like Scheduled Tribes), political action has shifted to relative discrimination within reserved groups. As the reservation pie grows larger, in effect it becomes a method of exclusion rather than inclusion”. The tragedy is that while the reservation pie is growing, the job pie is not. This is a recipe for disaster. Jawaharlal Nehru could foresee this in 1961 and, perhaps in a ’non-political’ moment had even gone on to say, “ It necessitates getting out of the old habit of reservations and particular privilege being given to this caste or that group”. Unfortunately, reservations are considered such a political necessity that even Nehru would think umpteen times before making such a statement now.

 I don’t think reservations will go away from this country in the near future even if there is a strong movement against it, because it would not be politically acceptable. However, some of the ideas mentioned above for delivering social justice more effectively and other viable ideas can be explored, should be explored.

 Anil Swarup has served as head of Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Office. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.  

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Policy & Politics

Nexus of Good: Ubuntu Consortium

Anil Swarup

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‘I am, because you are’ refers to UBUNTU, a popular African philosophy which places emphasis on being self through others. This philosophy inspired a group of women entrepreneurs to lay the foundation for ‘Ubuntu Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs’, a consortium of Women Entrepreneur associations pan India. It is a non-government organization that was established in 2015 and registered under Societies Act on 8th March 2019.

 Ubuntu Consortium is a brain-child of and led by Ratnaprabha, former Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka. It was founded with a vision to bring together women entrepreneurs from diverse fields and to provide an ecosystem that nurtures and encourages them to grow to their full potential.

As the saying goes, “The ultimate use of power is to empower others”. True to this quote, Ubuntu Consortium provides support to micro- entrepreneurs from Tier 2 & tier 3 cities Mahila Mandal and Women Entrepreneur’s Associations at grassroot level. This is accomplished through their knowledge sharing and skill development workshops, networking, trade exposures, B2B platforms, best practices which aid the women entrepreneurs out there by providing them exposure and encouragement they require to thrive and upscale their businesses to the global level.

Ubuntu Consortium’s constant endeavour to aid the growth and development of Women Entrepreneurs has resulted in Karnataka State Government setting up women entrepreneurs’ parks in 5 districts of Karnataka.

Over a period of time, Ubuntu Consortium has been able to register 22 member Associations across the country even during pandemic. It also facilitated B2B and B2C platform to explore business opportunities. Around 12,000 secondary members are utilizing the services of Ubuntu.  

Ubuntu Consortium has also been in the forefront of providing marketing support to women entrepreneurs. These efforts include leading delegations to international trade fairs at Orlando, Bruno, Czech Republic, Slovenia etc, a B2B and networking platforms in various events where MNCs like Amazon, Flipkart, Asian Paints, Big Basket actively took part with mutual benefits.

Ubuntu’s flagship event, WOW- 2020 Enterprise Connect, facilitated B2B and B2C partnering in selected sectors to explore business opportunities & partnerships, vendor listing & procurement. The event brought together women entrepreneurs with necessary connect across Corporates, Global Organisations, Trade Associations and Government by ensuring their growth and encouraging them to expand their businesses.

When COVID pandemic brought the world to a standstill, Ubuntu stayed connected digitally with 30 women associations and all its members. The idea was to lend support to the women entrepreneurs during these difficult times. As an initial step during the pandemic, ‘Ubuntu help desk’ was setup along with KASSIA (Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association) and the UNDP (United Nations Developmental Programs). This dedicated helpdesk was to address the grievances that arose due to Covid -19.  

Several webinars on digital marketing & how to face the crisis during Covid fallout, along with a session on online marketing supported by UNDP and ACCESS, were organized. The seminars were conducted every month so that the women aren’t at a loss during the pandemic. Training program for women entrepreneurs to handle stress and work life balance organized in association with WICCI life-skills was found to be extremely useful. 

Initiative UNESCAP training program to train Women Entrepreneurs for digital marketing and e-commerce delivered remarkable results by empowering women to onboard their products.

Ubuntu Consortium of Women Entrepreneurs Association was the knowledge partner of the “Covid-19 Udyog Sahayavani Project” launched by United Nations Development Programme, Karnataka, to provide business advisory services and hand holding support to entrepreneurs and MSMEs. A series of webinars were organized on a variety of subjects. These included how to grow your business during COVID-19 and Digital Empowerment of artisans and rural micro-entrepreneurs for sustainable online market linkages. Webinars were also conducted on stress management and grinding technology to enhance productivity in collaboration programs with UNDP and KASSIA. 

Training programs on digital empowerment of artisans and rural micro entrepreneurs for sustainable online market linkages were conducted in 3 batches to connect them globally. Women entrepreneurs from several districts of Karnataka and other states took part in the event.

Virtual Job Fair under the COVID-19 Udyogsahayavani project and in collaboration with United Nations Development Programs (UNDP) and KASSIA witnessed participation of 280 candidates along with registration of 52 companies.

Ubuntu Consortium started the year 2021 with major breakthroughs which included signing of MOU with Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship to develop women entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Xcelerator Programme of Ubuntu in collaboration with GAME and FKCCI galvanized stakeholders in the ecosystem such as Government departments, financial institutions & skills institutions to align with the mission and created a more supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurship

Ubuntu Consortium also signed MOUs with UNDP, GAME, UNESCAP, WICCI life Skills, Vision Karnataka Foundations and Mera Bills to strengthen the member Associations.

Prebudget meetings with Government of Karnataka enabled bringing in policies and schemes supportive to women entrepreneurs to scale up their business.   

During the event held on 18th November 2021 wherein Head, Inclusive Growth, UNDP participated, interactions were held with a large number of other associations of women entrepreneurs. The idea was to provide a platform to network and seek inspiration from success stories.

Led by visionary Ratna Prabha, Ubuntu Consortium made it happen and presents a wonderful example of Nexus of Good where an initiative to assist women entrepreneurs has been scaled. Enabling women to earn livelihood is perhaps the best way to empower them. This is precisely what Ubuntu Consortium is doing and doing it quite successfully. Even COVID could not stop their march on account of the commitment of Ratna Prabha and her dedicated team. The Consortium now has 19000 members from more than 30 Associations. It is a model that can be replicated and scaled further.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics

Will turncoats influence outcome in UP?

It is very difficult to predict at this point whether this is the result of political wind or part of a strategy to get ticket.

Vijay Darda

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In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the news of turncoat politicians switching their allegiance from one party to another is coming in every day. Since BJP is ruling the state, it is faced with massive defection with the disgruntled leaders leaving the party. Since the BJP is boasting that only lotus will bloom in Uttar Pradesh once again, the question is why are several satraps leaving the party in the state? And how much will these defectors influence the final poll outcome?

As a matter of fact, everything was hunky-dory till just before the announcement of elections. Last week, the BJP core committee met in Delhi after which the news leaked out that the party is planning to deny tickets to more than 100 of its sitting MLAs. Soon after, Swami Prasad Maurya, a minister then, put in his papers. His resignation triggered a wave of resignations in UP. About a dozen MLAs, including three ministers, have resigned so far. Those who have resigned never had an emotional attachment with the RSS. Swami Prasad Maurya was close to Kanshi Ram and later Mayawati for a long time. He had joined BJP to get a ticket and also became a minister, thanks to dominance of caste politics. Now he has joined Samajwadi Party. Others who have crossed over have their own pockets of influence across the state.

The BJP’s loss seems to have worked to the advantage of the SP. Interestingly, Akhilesh Yadav has categorically stated that now he will not take any BJP MLA in the SP. The statement has raised eyebrows in political circles. After all, why did Akhilesh say this? Perhaps he wants to send a message to the voters that the situation is not favourable for the BJP and there is a stream of leaders eager to join the SP. On the other hand, he is also trying to send out a message to the people who joined the SP that they should not ask for tickets. Akhilesh knows that due to the farmers’ agitation, the BJP may suffer in western Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has not been able to keep Chaudhary Charan Singh’s grandson and Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary in its fold. Efforts are on to persuade him but it is not easy. SP can derive political advantage from it. This is the reason why SP is focussing on Purvanchal and has roped in smaller parties. In the last election, BJP got 115 out of 160 seats in Purvanchal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath have been making frequent visits to Purvanchal to save the party stronghold. Purvanchal has received a total package of about Rs 95,000 crore so far.

The spate of defections which the BJP is now witnessing should be seen in terms of small parties versus big parties too. The politics of Uttar Pradesh has been witness to the fact that whenever big parties have become strong, small parties have suffered and whenever big parties have taken small parties along, the latters have benefitted immensely; so much so that their leaders later start creating trouble for the leading party itself. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not afraid of the regional parties. He knows that they cannot blight the prospects of the BJP. But if the national party like Congress has even 5 per cent voter base in UP, it can make a difference. That is the reason why he keeps attacking the Congress more.

Now let’s analyse what happened to the defectors in the previous elections. An analysis reveals that from 2014 to 2020, none of the 12 MPs who defected and contested as a candidate of another party were re-elected. Moreover, of the 357 MLAs who contested the Assembly elections after switching allegiance, 170 won again. Overall, 52 per cent of the 433 defected MLAs and MPs won. Let me remind you here that in the last three elections, voters have changed governments in UP. The BSP government was formed in 2007, the SP came to power 2012 and the BJP got power in 2017. This time, Yogiji is saying that he has spent Rs 5 lakh crore directly to empower the people of the state in the last five years. These beneficiaries will vote for BJP. But I can say on the basis of my experience that your works never fetch you votes. People get some freebies because the party in the government feels that if it shows its performance, it will get votes.

Religious polarisation and caste politics matter more in a state like UP. The BJP is considered an expert in religious polarisation. After Ram Janmabhoomi, the Krishna Janmabhoomi issue is being raised. And with saffron-clad Yogiji leading from the front, BJP will get a huge benefit of Hindu votes. Similarly, Muslims are in the SP camp at the moment, but Owaisi is also making every effort to attract Muslims. It can be said that the fight for being number two in wooing Muslim votes is between Owaisi and the Congress.

As for Mayawati, she is not making any move right now. Caught in her own web of political and economic constraints, she is nowhere to be seen. Notwithstanding this, she is the only leader of Dalits. Ahead of the polls, the Dalit and Jat leaders though are rallying together, the rift between the two communities has widened after the Muzaffarnagar incident.

Thus, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be quite interesting to watch. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

The phenomenon of turncoat politicians is nothing new to Indian politics. Though we have the anti-defection law in place, the political parties are smart enough to find the escape route. The BJP may be at the receiving end right now but the question is will these turncoats make any difference in the end?

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Policy & Politics

TELANGANA WELCOMES TESLA TO SET UP SHOP IN STATE

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Years after Tesla tried to make an entry into the Indian market, Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana, KT Rama Rao invited Tesla CEO Elon Musk to set up shop in the state in a tweet.

“Hey Elon, I am the Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India. Will be happy to partner Tesla in working through the challenges to set shop in India/Telangana,” Rao said in a reply to Musk’s tweet.

“Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives and a top notch business destination in India,” he added.

This statement has come days after Elon Musk said that Tesla “is still working through a lot of challenges with the government” in India to launch electric cars. Musk wrote in a post giving an update to a query on Twitter on Thursday. Tesla wants to begin selling imported cars in India this year but says taxes in the country are among the highest in the world, said Elon musk in a tweet

With a $39,990 global price tag, Tesla Model 3 may remain as an affordable model in the US but with import duties, it would become unaffordable in the Indian market with an expected price tag of around Rs 60 lakh.

Tesla’s request for tax cuts was first reported in July 2021, when sources told Reuters that the company had written to Indian ministries seeking a big reduction in import duties on electric vehicles. Soon after, Musk tweeted that Tesla was likely to set up a factory in India if successful with imported vehicles.

Another reason for the delay was that India treats clean energy vehicles the same as diesel or petrol vehicles, “which does not seem entirely consistent” with its climate goals, said Elon Musk as a reply to a tweet.

Lat year Rao helped in catalyzing a deal between the Telangana government and Kitex Group to get MD Sabu Jacob to invest Rs 2,406 crore in his state after Kitex pulled out of Kerala, withdrawing Rs 3,500 crore project from the state

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Policy & Politics

INNOVATION FOR INDIA, FROM INDIA, SAYS PM

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PM Modi called for a new mantra, that of innovate for India, innovate from India. This mantra came up to tackle challenges facing the country in the start-up industry. He counted the steps taken by the government in freeing entrepreneurs and innovation from bureaucratic silos. “The start-ups of India are changing the rules of the game. I believe that startups are going to be the backbone of the new India,” he said interacting with the youngsters from the world of startups. “Let us innovate for India, innovate from India”, he added. India, he said, has over 60,000 startups with 42 unicorns.

The government is focusing on three aspects to strengthen innovation, entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem- “Freeing entrepreneurship, innovation from government and bureaucratic silos; setting up institutional mechanisms to promote remodelling and innovation and handholding of youth innovators”, he said.

He also narrated the successes of startups during the recent years. “28,000 patents were granted last year as compared to 4,000 patents in 2013-14. In terms of trademarks, in 2013-14, 70,000 trademarks were registered in comparison with 2.5 Lakh trademarks in 2020-21”, he said.

He added, “India’s ranking on the Global Innovation Index is improving because of the programme on innovation started in the country. India’s ranking in the index in 2015 was 81 and now it is number 46.”

He lauded the efforts of startups in not only bringing innovation but also evolving as major job creators. As startups evolve and grow, the requirements of credential-bearing workforce with suited skill sets also increases. This leads to major job creation opportunities. Therefore PM Modi added that startups can be the ripe matrix for jobs and work opportunities to develop and blossom.

He said that the year 2022 has brought new opportunities and avenues for startups and January 16th will be celebrated as National Startup Day to help seep in the startup culture at the grassroot level in the society. Naming of the National Startup Day came in as big news because with the naming of the day, the entire culture of startups will get a new and rejuvenated boost. As people will be able to discern the day for startups and get to celebrate it the boost to the startups will be multiplied manifold.

Modi said that easier access to funds as well as making self-certification for compliance of nine labour and three environmental laws is also helping promote startups. Innovation and technology based solutions are being encouraged for finding solutions to facing the country.

Some of the famous startup unicorns of India include: UpGrad, CRED, Pharmeasy, PhonePe, OYO Rooms among others.

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Policy & Politics

ECONOMIC REVIVAL, EXPANSION ON CARDS: SURVEY

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There is no doubt that India is already under the grip of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country recorded at least 2.68 lakh new cases today, including 6,041 cases of Omicron; taking the total tally to 3.67 crore. Notwithstanding, the third wave spreading like wildfire, a significant percentage of industry leaders are optimistic about India’s economic revival with confidence ruling high amongst Indian businesses, finds a pre-budget survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP).

DTTILLP assembled a total of 163 responses from 10 industries. It was found that more than 75 per cent of respondents were positive about India’s economic revival as economic activities pick up steam with a healthy GDP growth.

The survey further finds that around 91 per cent of respondents believe that the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative (Self-reliant India), coupled with monetary policy actions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) played an instrumental role in driving back the economy from gloom last year.

“The industry leaders expect the Union Budget FY 2022-23 to build on to this momentum,” DTTILLP said in a release. The Union Budget is scheduled to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.

On the other hand, 55 per cent of business leaders believe that providing extra tax incentives to long-term investors for infrastructure investment can encourage growth in the country.

While, 45 per cent of respondents believe that the upcoming budget should focus on announcing incentives for increased R&D spending that can boost sectors like automobile, technology, telecommunication, life sciences and capital goods.

Industry leaders, through the Deloitte survey also conveyed some other expectations like enhancing export competitiveness, putting in place competitive import tariffs, and reducing administrative inefficiencies.

“The economy has witnessed a steady recovery during 2021-22”, said, Sanjay Kumar, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, while commenting on the survey findings.

“The Indian economy will continue to witness the growth momentum if the government is able to sustain the efforts on implementation of reforms such as asset monetisation for the infrastructure growth, and PLI schemes,” he further added.

Also, most of the business intellectuals foresee an increased start-up activity fostered by the Centre’s stimulus packages (ECLGS) and policies, which will brighten up the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) culture in the country, resulting in a faster economic revival, Kumar said.

The survey also finds that 59 per cent of respondents believe in the fact that India can be a favourable atmosphere to run a business. With this regard, they touched on three things: promoting digitalisation, simplifying tax regimes and, improving land and labour laws that would also help enhance the EoDB in India.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today announced that January 16 will be observed as ‘Start-up day’ as they are the game changers, whereas small businesses are the spine of country’s economy.

“This partnership (between small businesses and start-ups) can benefit both, the society and the economy, especially women employment will get strengthened because of this,” Modi said as he interacted with start-ups via video conferencing on the occasion of Start-Up India Innovation Week.

The survey conducted by DTTILLP aimed at analysing the industry’s expectations from the upcoming ‘Budget 2022’, where focus will be on EoDB, self-reliance (start-ups) and economic growth.

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Policy & Politics

46 STARTUPS ANNOUNCED WINNERS OF THE NATIONAL STARTUP AWARDS 2021 ALONG WITH 1 INCUBATOR AND 1 ACCELERATOR

Startup India is about realising millions of dreams: Piyush Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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“Startup India is about realising millions of dreams,” said ShriPiyush Goyal today. Presenting the National Startup Awards 2021, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, he said the Startup Mission is a symbol of Self-Reliant & Self-Confident India.

“Be it a fisherman’s son from Chennai or a boatman’s daughter from Kashmir, they all want to bring prosperity to their families and to their people, and therefore are thinking bigger and bolder,” said Shri Goyal.

Shri Goyal said, realising the contribution of Startups towards nation-building, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today announced that January 16 will be celebrated as National Start-up Day, to take the Startup culture to the far flung areas of the country.

“Prime Minister Modi is a very firm believer in potential of Startups to contribute significantly to the growth of the nation during the Amritkaal, the next 25 years. He recognises Innovation to be the strongest pillar in making India ‘Aatmanirbhar’,” said Shri Goyal.

Shri Goyal said the PM has focused on three sutras (pillars) to strengthen innovation:

Liberating entrepreneurs from the web of Govt processes & bureaucratic silos, – over 25,000 compliances reduced, decriminalization of laws, etc, but what more can be done to help businesses grow & prosper in an easier environment?

Building institutional mechanisms, – strengthen regulatory processes and self-regulation, &

Handholding young innovators & new enterprises, – mentoring will define Innovation in the future

Shri Goyal called upon the Startups to focus mainly on five areas to make India the No. 1 Startup ecosystem in the world:

1. Develop solutions & content in Indic languages

2. Encourage products & solutions that have a larger social & economic impact

3. Promoting Startups in every district across the country, – Establish ‘Startup Access centers’ in every district

4. Creating Innovation zones at the level of Urban Local Bodies, &

5. Adopt best practices from across the globe & enhance India’s global competitiveness

Quoting PM Modi, Shri Goyal said, “Today India is rapidly moving towards hitting the century of unicorns. I believe the golden era of India’s start-ups is starting now…”

“Government is standing with our innovators and so is the entire country…Let’s Innovate for India, innovate from India!” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, DPIIT Secretary Shri Anurag Jain said the Department will handhold the Startup Award finalists across seven tracks i.e. Investor Connect, Mentorship, Government Connect, Capacity Development, Corporate Connect, Brand Showcase and Unicorn Engagement.

“Our journey together doesn’t end here with just awards, we will walk step by step with you in this journey,” he said.

During the ceremony, the Results of the National StartupAwards (NSA) 2021 were declared. A total of 46 Startupshave been recognized as winners of National Startup Awards 2021 along with 1 incubator and 1 accelerator.

The second edition of the awards invited applications across 15 sectors and 49 sub-sectors. The sectors included Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Drinking Water, Education & Skill Development, Energy, Enterprise Technology, Environment, Fintech, Food Processing, Health & Wellness, Industry 4.0, Security, Space and Transport and Travel. Six special categories were also introduced to recognize exceptional Startups contributing to the good of the society. The 2021 edition of the awards also recognized exceptional Startups innovating solutions to promote Indic languages and to compliment national efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 2177 applications were received from Startupsacross the 49 sub-sectors along with applications from 53 incubators and 6 accelerators for the ecosystem enablerscategories. These applicants included 863 Women-led, 414 innovations for combatting COVID-19 and 253 Startupsworking in rural areas.

All applicants were evaluated against six broad parameters namely Innovation, Scalability, Economic Impact, Social Impact, Environmental Impact, and Inclusiveness and Diversity.

After three rounds of detailed evaluation, 175 Startups were selected for presentation before the jury which made presentations before the 16 specialist jury panels, which comprised of domain experts from industry, investors and government.

The recognised entities will benefit from such recognition, not only in terms of being able to attract more business, financing, partnerships and talent, but also enable them to serve as role models for other entities, and to inspire them to be purposeful and responsible about their socio-economic impact.

53 applications were received from incubators and 6 applications were received from Accelerators. Select incubators and accelerators were selected after three rounds of evaluation for presentation before Jury Panel which gave presentations before the Jury.

The felicitation ceremony was accompanied by the release of an e-Report on National Startup Awards 2021 highlighting the year-round handholding support provided to the finalists of first edition of National Startup Awards and the journey of NSA 2021.

The ‘Blockchain-enabled verification for DPIIT tax incentive certificates’, ‘Digilocker enabled DPIIT Startup recognition certificate’ and second edition of the ‘Startup Champions’ programme on Doordarshan were also launched during the event.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) conceived the National Startup Awards to recognize and reward outstanding Startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact. The measure of success is not only the financial gains for the investors, but also the contribution to social good.

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