The Bold Voice of J&K

Startup India, Skill India, and Stand-up India: Empowering Youth v/s Freebies

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DR BHARTI GUPTA

The precursor to writing this article is the recent Mega event of Startup Mahakumbh 2024, held from March 18-20 at New Delhi’s Bharat Mandapam and Pragati Maidan, which exemplifies India’s commitment to fostering youth financial empowerment, transforming them into creators rather than mere seekers of employment. With over 1000 promising startups from India and around the globe, alongside influential participants such as unicorns, international and domestic venture capitalists, corporates, and industry leaders, the event emphasized the Power of I4: Intellectual convergence, innovation, investment for growth, and international outreach. It provided diverse engagement opportunities for youth, including thematic pavilions, startup booths, pitching sessions, B2B meetings, mentoring sessions, masterclasses, keynotes, fireside chats, panels, networking opportunities, and platforms for future entrepreneurs. The expanse of the event can be imagined by the key features like 10 distinct pavilions focusing on AI & SaaS, Agritech, Biotech & Pharma, B2B & Manufacturing, Climate Tech, Deep Tech, D2C/Consumer/platforms, Gaming & Esports, Fintech, and Incubators/Accelerators.
In a rapidly evolving global landscape, the youth population stands as a formidable force for driving socio-economic growth and development. Recognizing this potential, the Indian government has initiated various schemes likeSkill India, Startup India, and Stand-up India. These programs are not mere promises of freebies; rather, they represent a strategic investment in building a more resilient and innovative economy by equipping the youth with the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to succeed in the 21st-century workforce.
Skill India: Skill India, launched on 15th July 2015, addresses the pressing need to enhance the employability of India’s youth by providing them with relevant skills and training. The initiative recognizes that traditional education systems often fail to equip students with the practical skills demanded by the job market. Skill India aims to bridge this gap by offering skill development programs tailored to the needs of various industries and sectors.
Under Skill India, a wide range of vocational training programs are provided across sectors such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, tourism, and more. These programs focus on imparting industry-relevant skills, including technical know-how, soft skills, and entrepreneurship training. By equipping young people with the necessary skills, Skill India empowers them to secure gainful employment or pursue entrepreneurial ventures, thereby reducing unemployment and poverty.
Skill India also fosters a culture of lifelong learning and skill upgradation, ensuring that individuals remain competitive in an ever-changing job market. Through initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Skill India has made significant strides in enhancing the employability and earning potential of millions of Indian youth.
Startup India: Startup India, launched on 16th January 2016, is a landmark initiative aimed at fostering a conducive ecosystem for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. Recognizing the transformative potential of startups in driving economic growth, job creation, and technological innovation, Startup India provides a comprehensive package of benefits and incentives to budding entrepreneurs. Moreover, Startup India promotes a culture of innovation and risk-taking, challenging the status quo and driving disruptive change across sectors.
One of the key components of Startup India is the simplification of regulatory processes and easing compliance burdens for startups. The initiative offers tax exemptions, faster patent examination, funding support through schemes like the Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS), incubation facilities, mentorship programs, and access to market opportunities. By providing a supportive environment for startups to thrive, Startup India encourages young entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas, take calculated risks, and scale their ventures.
The initiative has witnessed remarkable success stories, with Indian startups making significant contributions to sectors such as technology, e-commerce, healthcare, fintech, and agriculture. By fostering a vibrant startup ecosystem, Startup India not only fuels economic growth but also positions India as a global hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Stand Up India: Stand Up India, launched on 5th April 2016, is a flagship initiative aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), and Scheduled Tribes (STs). The program seeks to address the historical socio-economic disparities by facilitating access to credit and support for aspiring entrepreneurs from marginalized communities. One of the key features of Stand Up India is the provision of bank loans ranging from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore to at least one SC/ST and one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up greenfield enterprises. By providing financial assistance and support, Stand Up India encourages marginalized sections of society to become entrepreneurs and create jobs, thus promoting inclusive growth. This scheme eventually empowers marginalized sections of society to become job creators rather than job seekers.
The above-said initiatives are different from promising freebies in that they focus on capacity building and creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods rather than short-term handouts. By fostering entrepreneurship, skill development, and innovation, Stand Up India, Skill India, and Startup India empower the youth to seize opportunities, realize their potential, take control of their futures, and contribute positively to the nation’s development.
The culture of providing freebies, while seemingly beneficial in the short term for certain segments of society, can have detrimental effects on the long-term economic growth and sustainability of a nation. Freebies often come at a significant cost to the economy in terms of distorted incentives, fiscal burden, crowding out of the private sector, inflationary pressures, interference with market mechanisms, generational debt burden, and dependency syndrome. A more sustainable approach to promoting economic growth involves investing in education, infrastructure, healthcare, and social safety nets while fostering an environment that encourages innovation, entrepreneurship, and productive employment.
Let us examine this in detail, Freebies often distort incentives by discouraging productive behavior and incentivizing dependence on government handouts. When individuals or groups receive goods or services for free, they may become less motivated to work hard, innovate, or invest in their future. This can lead to a decline in productivity and hinder the overall competitiveness of the economy.
Freebies require significant financial resources, usually funded through taxes or government borrowing. This places a heavy Fiscal burden on the fiscal health of the nation, diverting resources away from essential public services such as infrastructure development, education, healthcare, and social welfare programs that have a more sustainable impact on economic growth.
Excessive reliance on government-provided freebies can crowd out private-sector investment and entrepreneurship. When the government provides goods or services for free that are also offered by the private sector, it can undermine competition and deter private investment in those areas. This limits innovation, reduces consumer choice, and stifles economic dynamism.
Freebies can contribute to inflationary pressures in the economy, particularly if they are not accompanied by corresponding increases in productivity or output. As the government injects more money into the economy to finance freebies, it can lead to an increase in demand without a corresponding increase in supply, driving up prices and eroding the purchasing power of the currency.
Freebies often interfere with the efficient functioning of market mechanisms by distorting price signals and resource allocation. When goods or services are provided for free or at heavily subsidized rates, it can create artificial demand and distort market equilibrium, leading to inefficiencies and misallocation of resources.
Financing freebies through government borrowing can saddle future generations with a heavy debt burden, limiting their ability to invest in their own future and stifling intergenerational mobility. Excessive debt accumulation can also raise concerns about fiscal sustainability, leading to higher interest rates, reduced investor confidence, and potential sovereign debt crises.
The provision of freebies can foster a culture of dependency, where individuals or groups become reliant on government handouts rather than taking responsibility for their own well-being. This dependency syndrome can perpetuate cycles of poverty and hinder social mobility, ultimately undermining the long-term resilience and prosperity of the nation.
In contrast to the freebie culture, empowering youth through initiatives like Skill India, Stand Up India, and Startup India offers numerous benefits like promoting self-reliance, Fostering economic Growth, Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness, Reducing Poverty and Inequality, Encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship, Building Human Capital Instead of fostering dependency on government handouts, Empowering youth through skill development, entrepreneurship, and innovation promotes social cohesion and stabilityand encourages self-reliance.
Skill development, entrepreneurship, and innovation are essential drivers of fostering economic growth. By investing in these areas, governments can stimulate job creation, enhance productivity, and foster innovation-led growth. Empowered youth are more likely to start businesses, create employment opportunities, and drive economic dynamism, leading to sustainable and inclusive growth.
Empowering youth through skill development enhances their productivity and competitivenessin the job market. By acquiring relevant skills and training, young people are better equipped to meet the demands of employers and contribute effectively to the workforce. This not only benefits individuals by increasing their earning potential but also strengthens the overall competitiveness of the economy.
Empowering youth from marginalized communities through initiatives like Stand Up India can help reduce poverty and inequality. By providing access to finance, training, and support services, these initiatives enable individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to break the cycle of poverty, create wealth, and improve their socio-economic status. This promotes social inclusion and reduces disparities in wealth and opportunity.
Startup India fosters a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a supportive ecosystem for startups to thrive. By offering incentives, funding, mentorship, and regulatory reforms, the initiative encourages young entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas, take risks, and scale their ventures. This promotes innovation, drives technological advancements, and creates new industries and markets, leading to job creation and economic diversification.
Skill development initiatives under Skill India help build human capital by equipping youth with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the modern economy. By investing in education, vocational training, and lifelong learning, governments can ensure that young people are prepared for the jobs of the future and can adapt to changing market trends and technologies. Empowering youth through initiatives that promote skill development, entrepreneurship, and innovation can contribute to social cohesion and stability. By providing opportunities for meaningful employment, economic participation, and social mobility, these initiatives reduce the risk of social unrest, crime, and conflict, fostering a more inclusive and harmonious society.
In the above-mentioned context, it can be therefore said that empowering youth through initiatives like Skill India,Startup India, and Stand-Up India offers numerous benefits, unlike the short-term relief provided by a freebie culture, these initiatives lay the foundation for long-term prosperity, resilience, and inclusive development and pave the way for developed nation.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Central University of Jammu)

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