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Foundation for success

New foundation course for IAS trainees comprised a robust discussion over different themes crucial towards the realisation of $5 trillion economy

Foundation for success

The highlight of Aarambh – the first of its kind common foundation course held at the tent city in the vicinity of the Statue of Unity – was an interaction of the youngest entrants to the Steel Frame with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He heard their thematic presentations on agriculture and rural transformation, inclusive urbanisation, jobs, skills and employment, health and wellness and sustainable resource development among other things. All five presentations incorporated knowledge gained from discussions with global experts and thought leaders drawn from the World Bank, Singularity and the Institute of the Future. The discussions gave them the know-how to identify 'signals', understand 'drivers' of change, anticipate 'disruptive trends' in a positive way and create Headline News circa 2030.

The group on agriculture was looking to integrate the vast data that existed in the silos of banks (credit history and credit potential), department of agriculture (soil health status), department of fertiliser, space (crop forecast and satellite imagery), revenue departments (land holdings), animal husbandry (with reference to the fodder requirements) and so on. There were eleven departments and a host of ICAR institutions within the government alone. Then, there was data from corporates about farm equipment, plant protection and soil nutrition. Nurseries providing planting material to horticulture fields, seed companies and the FAO projections on world food demand and SDG targets were also important data sources for the agriculture group. All this could help AI and big data to analyse the actual credit, fertiliser and farm equipment requirements alongside exact dimensions of the water-saving micro-irrigation which will be driven by a solar system. The system itself will be 3D-printed at the local MSME workstation. This is perhaps the only way if agriculture is to contribute its share of one trillion to the future five trillion dollar economy

The next presentation was on Inclusive Urbanisation in which the officers talked about the transformation of slums, making cities safe for women and the differently-abled by the use of CCTV, managing traffic, waste segregation and sanitation with AI and robotic machines. Other transformative measures which were discussed included – work stations and portals to link services with citizens, drone friendly administration, universal mobility and open spaces or even cultural centres for holistic growth. Closely linked to this were the presentation on jobs, skills and education which looked at the future of jobs in the age of driverless cars, auto-plumbing, robotic home cleaning and automated dishwashers. The presentation concluded that with economic growth there would be new skillsets – for childcare, health care, gourmet cuisine, fitness, care for the elderly in Europe and in the areas of AI, big data, nanosciences et al.

The next group on health and wellness conceded that doctors and paramedics may become less relevant in the future but then the number of people in the wellness sector, especially Ayurveda, Yoga and Mudra therapies would grow exponentially. They also asserted that costs of health care would likely go down and that mobile apps would be able to give doctors information which currently requires expensive and invasive procedures like CT scans. Furthermore, diets would be formulated according to DNA type and BMI data. Most importantly, communicable diseases like malaria and dengue could be eliminated for good.

Last but not least was the presentation on Sustainable Resource Management. Drawing from the five elements — Prithivi, Agni, Akash, Jal and Vayu, the group made suggestions on how to move from a linear to a circular economy in which each element fed into the other seamlessly. This would be a disruption to cancel the disruption caused by the Industrial Revolution in which manufacturing was looking at only one outcome to the exclusion of all others. Thus, if steel was to be made, then the target was only the manufacture of steel and externalities did not count at all. The presentation asserted that for Prithvi to regain its strength and fertility, it was important to map resources of water and soil in conjunction and then work with agriculture and health groups to identify the most ecologically sustainable cropping pattern. We could harness energy from the sun (Agni) and wind (Vayu) and use cloud computing alongside satellites in the Akash to capture and transmit information back to Prithvi, making it a positive and virtuous cycle.

The PM sat through the presentations and had an extended interaction in which he exhorted officers to do their very best for all those who came in touch with them. He said that in order to become a knowledge economy, each officer should agree to devote at least thirty weekends in the next two to three years to organise knowledge/skill workshops or training programs wherever they were posted, in India or abroad. It did not even need to be specific to their domain of work. It could be on an issue in which the officer is interested — from the importance of sports to implications of nanoscience on manufacturing, agriculture markets or land leasing. The idea was to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders with the larger objective of making everyone feel like a part of the grand vision of India as a five trillion dollar economy. He spent the entire day with the Officer Trainees – first at the Unity parade, the interaction session followed by lunch and a group photograph.

The Prime Minister was indeed very impressed with the programme and tweeted "Today on the Jayanti of Sardar Patel, I joined a very innovative, special and refreshing programme - Aarambh. This is a new foundation training course for young officers. The course is more broad-based and gives a more holistic canvas to bright officials". It was indeed a proud day for the officer trainees, as well as the Academy and the DoPT.

Dr. Sanjeev Chopra is the Director of LBSNAA and Honorary Curator, Valley of Words: Literature and Arts Festival, Dehradun. Views expressed are strictly personal

Sanjeev Chopra

Sanjeev Chopra

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