Beyond Money
Motivating School Dropouts
Yuva Parivartan works to provide a ‘second chance’ to deprived youth and helps them earn a decent living
 
Yuva Parivartan is a movement started by Kishor and Mrinalini Kher in 1998 to motivate school dropouts and make them economically independent through vocational training. This is a part of the Kherwadi Social Welfare Association (KSWA) started in 1928 by the late BG Kher, a freedom fighter, statesman and the first prime minister (as the chief minister was then called) of the then Bombay State.  
 
BG Kher was moved by the miserable living conditions and the plight of 100-odd tanner families, who had settled in the marshes of Bandra (E) in Mumbai, in what was then known as Chamdewalla-ki-Wadi.  This was the birth of KSWA.
 
Fittingly, the Yuva Parivartan movement was formally launched by the then President 
Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in February 2003 and is the flagship programme of KSWA, under Kishor and Mrinalini Kher. 
 
Yuva Parivartan engages with the youth from slums and rural areas and provides them with vocational and other skill-based training through a wide spectrum of 25-odd courses that it offers based on local needs and demand. The popular courses include knowledge of computers, basic wireman’s training, tailoring & fashion designing, mobile repair, beautician, hardware mechanic, motor mechanic, arc-welding, etc. These skills help people become self-employed or eligible for wage-based employment giving students who have dropped out of school and college a second chance.
 
Yuva Parivartan’s success has placed it in a position to help the National Skills Development Mission (NSDM) on a national level. Its work already spans across 18 states in India, namely, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Bihar. In FY14-15, Yuva Parivartan has provided skills training to about 110,000 youth. Of these, approximately 60% are gainfully employed. “We envision reaching one million youth by 2017,” say KSWA office bearers.
 
Having created a scalable and replicable model, KSWA is helping smaller and like-minded NGOs build capacities and replicate the model to achieve exponential growth. Better safety standards, better emoluments and working conditions could bring about a win-win situation for skill training institutes and for the industry, feels KSWA.
 
The programme is however, not without its share of problems. Boredom, fatigue and lack of staying power makes youngsters in India quit their jobs easily. Yuva Parivartan tries to overcome this through value-based training to bring about an attitudinal change in the youth.
 
KSWA is ISO-9001:2000 certified. Among KSWA’s admirers and sponsors is Dr RA Mashelkar, president of Global Research Alliance and former director-general CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). He says, “The uniqueness of the Yuva Parivartan programme is its ability to address the three most important paradoxes confronting the livelihoods space in the country today, where 80% of the youth, who do not complete school, receive only 20% of the attention; where 90% jobs are in the unorganised sectors, but only 10% of the attention and resources are directed towards unorganised sector; and while 70% of the population lives in the villages, only 30% of the attention goes towards rural India. I am sure Yuva Parivartan will inspire many other NGOs to come into the space of skill development and truly help India leverage its demographic dividend.”
 
Donations to Yuva Parivartan are eligible for tax exemption under Section 80G of Income-Tax Act. 
 

 

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Book Review of ‘Coined’
Another book on the medium of exchange
 
Coined, Kabir Sehgal, JP Morgan, John Murray, Federal Reserve bank, book reviewThere are plenty of books on money. A few years ago, Niall Ferguson wrote a gripping history (a Western one) of money in the book The Ascent of Money. Just off the presses is Coined, by Kabir Sehgal, a vice president with JP Morgan in New York. Sehgal explores basic questions like: why do we use money; what is money; and how should we use money? For answers, he has researched biology, psychology, anthropology, history and religion, while travelling over 700,000 miles across 25 countries that his job demanded. 
 
Consistent with this eclectic approach, the book is divided into three parts: Mind, Body and Soul. The section Mind is all about ‘why?’, i.e., the roots of money. In chapter-1, Sehgal travels to the Galapagos Islands in search of the ‘origin of exchange’, since exchange is at the heart of money. He meets scientists who tell him about the “evolutionary biological process and how exchange is fundamental to life on this planet” and why organisms enter into symbiotic relationships—usually to obtain food and resources. Sehgal traces the evolution of the human brain and how the first signs of thought are found in cave drawings that were made tens of thousands of years ago.
 
He then goes inside the brain, examining the ‘neuroscience of financial decision-making’ which is now a vast and important area of study. Thanks to pioneering work by Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Richard Thaler and others, we now know that human beings almost always take decisions ‘irrationally’—a process that vastly exacerbates the outcome when the decisions are about financial products. 
 
Even in our day-to-day lives, involving small decisions about money, researchers have found that the weather impacts how much one tips a waiter or the type of music playing in a store influences what type of wine one buys. Why are some people risk-takers and others not? Could it be a genetic trait? Money is no more the same after neuro-economics has burst upon the scene, complete with brain-scans experiments that have killed the ‘Rational Man’ who was at the centre of conventional economic studies.
 
In chapter 3, Sehgal looks at the ‘social brain’, the collective wisdom of crowds. Some anthropologists contend that debt, not barter, was the forerunner to money. Sehgal shows how various cultures deal with social debt or gifts—from the Maori people of New Zealand, to residents of the Trobriand Islands in the Solomon Sea to the Kwakiutl people of the Pacific Northwest and even netizens who use Napster (a file sharing site) and Kickstarter (a crowd-funding site). Sehgal explores where the gift economy ends and the market economy begins. 
 
The second section of the book, Body, is about what is money? He starts with hard money, made from precious metals. Sehgal has travelled to the gold vault beneath the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (where sovereign holdings are kept), to ancient Mesopotamia (where metal as money originated), to ancient Egypt. From 7BC, when coins were invented in Lydia, to Greece through the Roman Empire, coins have gone through many shapes, appeared in different forms that have been repeatedly debased and manipulated by rulers, even as they tried to control and shape the society around them.
 
From hard money, Sehgal moves on to soft money. Paper money was discovered by China in the 10th century which was used by Kublai Khan to unify his empire in the 13th century. Paper money freed us from the bondage of limited supply of gold; if gold was supposed to be used primarily as currency, there would never be enough of it. But, then, paper money is also the cause for inflation as rulers have repeatedly found the easy way out of fiscal discipline by printing more of paper money. 
 
Sehgal discusses one of momentous events in living memory, when President Richard Nixon’s announced the de-linking of gold from dollar in 1971, paving the way for monetary policy being conducted only by regulating supply of paper money. What is the future of money? “In the emerging world, there is a lack of credit cards but a plethora of mobile phones. The future of money will be realized when mobile phones become the preferred method of payment for billions around the world.” 
 
This leads to the third section, or Soul, where Sehgal explores the ‘How?’ of money—how should we use money? He answers this question by delving into religions, drawing upon lessons from the Bible, Kora, Torah and the Vedas. This is a fine history of money, filled with engaging stories. Worth a read. 

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Girl dies after jumping off bus to avoid molesters
A 13-year-old girl died and her mother was seriously injured when they had to jump out of a moving private bus to avoid molestation by some youth along with the bus conductor near Punjab's Moga town, police said on Thursday.
 
The incident took place on Wednesday evening.
 
The girl was declared brought dead by doctors. The mother was admitted to a government hospital in Moga.
 
The bus was impounded.
 
"We are investigating the matter and trying to nab the accused. The bus has been impounded," a police officer told media on Wednesday night.
 
Eyewitness account of passengers on the bus indicated that the mother and daughter were subjected to molestation and lewd remarks by some youth and the bus staff after they boarded it. 
 
When both of them, travelling with a boy, tried to get off the bus, the driver increased the speed.
 
"No one in the bus came to the rescue of the victims. There were not many passengers in the bus when the incident happened," an eyewitness told police.
 
The Punjab Police registered a case.

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