Lessons learnt in Government Relations

“Engaging with the movers and shakers of the sector varies depending on the geography and, more importantly, on the political hierarchy one is dealing with.”

It is unfortunate that the words ‘government’ and ‘relations’ taken in conjunction commonly inspire perceptions of inaccessibility and hopelessness. Navigating this diplomatic tightrope may be a skill perfected by a blend of tact and credibility, but real-time experience goes a long way too.

While ivory-towered optimism is always eclipsed by the realities on ground, I don’t think starting off with that attitude is necessarily a bad thing, as long as expectations driven by that passion is managed well. I speak from personal experience when I offer this caveat, because for all the policies that are in place to ensure good practises, the execution phase can be very challenging.

I moved to Bihar in 2015 – following years of spearheading a pilot program of Quest Alliance to deliver quality education to schools in India. Monikered Anandshala, the project has been aiming at bringing about large scale systematic reform at the district level, starting from a small hamlet called Samastipur.

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Education & Skills Sector Reading List, March 2018

The Quest Alliance round-up of what we’ve been reading in the education and skills sector this month.

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EMPLOYABILITY

An analysis of corporate data suggests that while corporations have been creating new jobs, the pace of job creation has been lacklustre in recent years. Read more in Live Mint here.

The ministry of labour and employment has issued a notification extending full-benefit, fixed-term jobs to all sectors of the economy, reports the Financial Express here.

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Gender Representation at Work

How Quest Alliance moved from 33% female staff to 50% female staff in just one year

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Quest Alliance is an organization which practices what it preaches to the world. One of the core areas of focus for the organization over the last year was to improve our work on gender. To make it a more meaningful focus, we started with the creation of a gender strategy for the organization. This focused on gender not just in the programs we deliver, but also how we practice gender equity as a whole organization.

When this process began in June 2016 we had a ratio of fewer than 30% of female staff to male across the entire organization. Most of these women were based out of our head office in Bangalore, while the field locations showed a much more skewed gender ratio – some of our field locations had 12 staff members, only one of whom was a women.

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Education & Skills Sector Reading List, February 2018

The Quest Alliance round-up of must-reads across the education and skills sector this month.

FebSectorReadingListEMPLOYABILITY

In good news for graduates, a recent survey has shown both that the employability of Indian graduates is rising, and that more companies are showing higher hiring intent in 2018. Read more in Live Mint here.

It’s not all about tech skills – Google has found that non-cognitive skills (and not STEM skills!) are the most important when it comes to the success of its employees. Read more in the Washington Post here.

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Campfire, Community and Common Purpose

What does it mean to be a learner? For Divas Vats, participating in the School for Democracy fellowship has been a lesson in the value of struggle, the importance of hope, and the need to do justice to the opportunities for learning that come our way.

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I can’t recall a better start to the year than 2018.

On December 20, my mentor Bezwada Wilson walked into the room and asked me to book the tickets for the fortnightly long workshop of the Democracy Fellowship by the School For Democracy, an initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). Over the course of three years, it brings together 52 grassroots activists from 17 states. We fellows engage with the state and work to influence systemic change and struggle for rights and entitlements.

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Education & Skills Sector Reading List, January 2018

The Quest Alliance round-up of must-reads in the employability, education and skilling sector this month.

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EMPLOYABILITY

It is about time that India rethinks its attitude towards education and realises that professional qualifications without skills will only further widen the employability gap. Read more in the Financial Express here

Misinterpreted data led to claims of India generating 55-lakh jobs every year. Read more in The Hindu here

Predictions suggest that the Union Budget will prioritise the skill development ecosystem. Read more in The Hindu here

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Grit and Determination plus Digital Literacy? A Recipe for Success

Is the youth bulge a problem of plenty? India must combine old wisdom and new technologies to harness its demographic dividend.

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By 2020, India will become the world’s youngest country in terms of its population. When the certainty of this ‘demographic dividend’ became clear, it was seen as a huge opportunity by economists, academics, think tanks and social scientists, a problem of plenty. As the sheer size of the issue became clearer, and as more data on youth entered the public domain, employers, civil society and the government soon joined the conversation. Over the past decade, this one issue has become arguably one of the most emotive of issues in several Indian policy circles.

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