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Leveraging knowledge resources to benefit Indian society

vertical collegeTata Trusts and Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (LMSAI) have embarked on a new collaborative journey in knowledge creation and capacity building for social and economic empowerment in India. The 18-month research project titled, Livelihood Creation in India through Social Entrepreneurship and Skill Development is the first step in this direction. The project will focus on three key areas including rural livelihood creation (emphasis on the handicrafts and handloom sectors); educational, social and economic empowerment of women; and science and technology-based interventions for poverty alleviation.

With field visits scheduled to begin in October 2015, the project will bring together diverse knowledge bases that will contribute to India’s development goals. The purpose of the project will be achieved through research with over 150 institutions across 15 states of India, 5 workshops with 100 participating NGOs, and 20 webinars involving Harvard faculty and subject experts from India. LMSAI-published literature and cases from this project will serve as a resource for Indian institutions and government bodies. These will be made available on the website at LMSAI. A key component of the project is the opportunity for budding social entrepreneurs and institutions in India to apply for social innovation grants totaling INR 50 lakhs that will spur interventions and scale up existing initiatives resulting in greater impact in select geographies.

Emphasizing the relevance of this collaboration, R. Venkataramanan, Executive Trustee, Tata Trusts said, “According to National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), India needs 240 million skilled people between 2015 and 2025 for maintaining the current growth rate. The purpose of this collaboration is to fulfil the growing need in India for skilled manpower and create a catalytic effect across sectors. This will help narrow the existing gap between the demand and supply of skilled labor.”

The long-term objective of the collaboration is to combine India’s and Harvard’s knowledge resources to benefit the disadvantaged sections of society. Management thinkers, legal scholars, scientists, technologists, human development and public policy experts from Harvard will partner with government and academic institutions, NGOs, civil society organizations and philanthropic foundations in India. Harvard will work with these change agents and seek out ways to add value to the work they are doing,” said Tarun Khanna, Director, LMSAI.

Tata Trusts

The Tata Trusts are among India’s oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organizations that work in several areas of community development. Tata Trusts seek to be catalysts in development through giving grants to institutions and executing large projects in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Rural Livelihoods, Urban Livelihoods & Poverty, Education, Enhancing Civil Society and Governance, Health and Arts and Culture. Over the last many decades, the Tata Trusts have facilitated various development projects in the areas of skill development, women’s empowerment, technology and education. The skill development project led to improved employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for the youth. It has supported organizations that cater to this area through creation of a residential course model based on a comprehensive package of activities. These include completion of secondary education, life skills, vocational training and personality development. Details can be accessed at tatatrusts.org.

The Multi-Disciplinary Harvard Team

Founded in 2003 to further Harvard University’s engagement with South Asia, LMSAI is a university-wide research institute. LMSAI connects faculty and students with regional partners and advances interdisciplinary scholarship on South Asia. Over the past decade, LMSAI has built an extensive network of stakeholders, significantly impacting social entrepreneurship and livelihood creation in the region. LMSAI’s network includes over 1,700 Harvard alumni from across various disciplines who lead organizations in the public and private sectors in India, and over 150 faculty members who focus their cutting-edge research and teaching on issues directly related to South Asia.

This project is led by Tarun KhannaDirector, Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; and Chairman, NITI Aayog Expert Committee on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Government of India. Shashank ShahPostdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University South Asia Institute; and Visiting Scholar, Harvard Business School will serve as the Project Director.

The multi-disciplinary Harvard team includes but is not limited to Namrata Arora, LMSAI Associate Director (India), LMSAISatchit BalsariChief, Weill Cornell Global Emergency Medicine Division, and Faculty, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Jacqueline BhabhaFXB Director of Research and Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; and Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; and Affiliated Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design; Meena HewettExecutive Director, LMSAIMukti KhaireAssociate Professor in Business Administration, Harvard Business School; and Visiting Associate Professor, Brown University; Venkatesh NarayanamurtiProfessor of Technology and Public Policy and Professor of Physics, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied SciencesAmbuj SagarProfessor of Policy Studies, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi; and Visiting Fellow, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Massachusetts Institute of Technology