Shashank Shah, left, at a field visit in Lucknow
For the past 18 months, Shashank Shah has been the Project Director for the SAI-Tata Trusts project on Livelihood Creation, which has just concluded. SAI spoke to Shah about the project and lessons learned.
SAI: Why did this project focus on the theme of livelihood creation? And how were the three tracks chosen?
Shashank Shah: Livelihood is a very big issue in India, given that India has largest population of people below the age of 35, and hence, skill-building and livelihood creation are primary issues and priorities for the government of India. They have reached out to corporations to help in this effort because they have the capacity to contribute, and they are the levers that fuel the economy of the country.
Given the expertise of social entrepreneurship by Professor Tarun Khanna [Director of the Harvard South Asia Institute], they thought it would be the best focus area for this project.
The two focuses of livelihood creation are skill building and social entrepreneurship. Skill building will give jobs to people who need them, and social entrepreneurship will lead to opportunities for self-employment, and also lead to positive social outcomes.
We identified three tracks: First, Rural livelihood creation in the Indian craft sector. This industry is the second-most employing sector in rural India, after agriculture. Rough estimates indicate that around 200 million people depend on the handicraft sector directly or indirectly. So we thought our project could try and create some kind of intervention and would benefit a large number of organizations. We had expertise in Professor Mukti Khaire.
Continue reading →