This article is sponsored by Axis Bank.
The Indian economy has grown immensely in the last few years, driven largely by its working population, a huge chunk of which is under 35. In fact, according to a 2016 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report, India is set to top the working-age population growth in Asia-Pacific by 2050, with at least 280 million more people entering the country’s job market.
But not all is well. According to another report released by the UNDP, between 1991 and 2013, the size of the working-age population increased by 300 million. Of this, the Indian economy could employ only 140 million, suggesting a limited capacity to generate jobs.This imbalance between the growing number of working age Indians, and the lack of enough jobs for all of them is a cause for grave concern.
Axis Bank, India’s third largest private sector bank, wants to address this issue by harnessing ideas from the section of society most likely to be impacted by this problem– the youth. In 2016, it launched a business plan, Future of Jobs in India, which was restricted to tier-1 B-schools in the country. As part of the contest they invited entries from students on how to combat unemployment in India. This year, the contest was opened up to all Indian nationals between 18 and 30 years.
The programme aims to foster innovation among youngsters and gives them a platform to showcase innovative business ideas that can create jobs for people in the near future.
At the launch of the event earlier this year, Rajesh Dahiya, Executive Director, Axis Bank, said, “Technology is reshaping the world as we know it and the dynamics of every sector and industry are changing faster than ever. Yesterday’s skills will be obsolete tomorrow. However, there is immense potential for our country to overcome this challenge and scale greater heights by imbibing new skills emerging in all spheres, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, big data and crowd-sourcing, to name a few. We are happy to launch ‘Future of Jobs in India’ - a platform for the youth to ideate on implementable, sustainable and scalable solutions for the future.”
Aiming for the best
The competition attracted nearly 15,000 participants from over 484 cities across India. Participants had to form teams of two and submit their idea in a 750-word write-up. Last year, the competition focused on sectors such as Waste Management, Telemedicine, Energy Management, Skill Development, Water Management and Urban Mobility, and this year, participants could pick any sector they wanted.
A jury shortlisted 180 teams which moved to the next round, where they presented their business plans to a panel of industry experts. Of these, 50 teams made the cut and went to Delhi to present their ideas.
The winners take it all
At the grand finale held in Delhi on April 8, 2017, five teams got to present their ideas to an eminent panel which included Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India); Rajan Anandan, VP and MD, Google India; Gautam Kumra, McKinsey India MD; and Shikha Sharma, MD and CEO, Axis Bank.
After several panel discussions and interactive sessions, the winners were announced.
First place went to Vaishali M. Kulkarni and Arjun Singh Bajwa of team MICOLOR. The two students from the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai proposed a solution that would minimise the use of hazardous chemical colours which lead to pollution and are a health hazard. Their solution advocates the extraction of natural colours using microbes, and the use of microbial colourants as an alternative to existing synthetic/floral colours.
Runners-up Be Rozgaar’s plan is to connect the daily wage workforce with employment opportunities. Their idea is to target the vast unstructured labour market and help people get a better livelihood. While the first interface of the platform will connect daily wage workforce with the employment, the second interface plans to focus on blue-collared employees.
The winners were awarded with a prize money of 25 lakh rupees, out of which 5 lakh rupees is set aside as the seed fund which will be invested in the startup later.