An Engaging Discussion on Future of Work by ILO & Youth Ki Awaaz
A beautiful chilly Saturday morning when one would like to curl up under the covers to enjoy the luxury of weekend sleep-in, it definitely is an interesting event which drives you outdoors. The catchy yellow white notepad at the venue spoke about the topic of discussion as # Future of Work. Further reading suggested that the conversation will navigate from Entrepreneurship to Women in Workforce to Indian Millennial's workplace challenges. It sounded interesting but somehow not exciting enough for a Saturday morning and that too at a classy, plush place like Anti Social of Hauz Khas Village. The event was being organised by ILO India and Youth Ki Awaaz, a digital media platform.
It was house full but I waded carefully through the jammed space and ensconced myself on a single vacant chair, in second row, next to one of the panelist, Gayatri Buragohin. The discussion had all the elements to keep the audience captivated. The panelists, the topic, the conversation had the lucidity and went smoothly. The discussion saw a wonderful moderator in Ashwaq Masoodi, a writer and journalist with Mint, who was awarded Ramnath Goenka Award for Journalistic Excellence.Ashwaq very effectively spoke about the under representation of women workforce in India and made a reference to the McKinsey report which says that only 24% of women population in India is employed. Though some of the women have broken glass ceilings and have taken up assignments which challenge stereotype notions.
It was wonderful to see Geeta true representative of women empowerment, among the panelists. She is a commercial female driver with Sakha Consulting Wings. She chose a different profession to be able to pave way for other women who are hesitant to enter the profession owing to sexual discrimination.Gayatri Buragohain another powerful speaker is an Electronics Engineer by training but her rebel spirit made her champion for Women’s participation in Technology. She floated her organisation called Feminist Approach to Technology. She didn't aspire to land in a traditional so called safe job for women despite having her roots in a middle class conservative family in Assam. She defies the conventional idea of restricting choice of employment due to gender. It's largely due to mindset that Maths is alien to girls or parents picking pink dolls for them.
Saloni Malhotra another dynamic young Entrepreneur, Founder of Desicrew shared Gayatri's sentiment about women in the technical field. She, through her venture, aims at shifting of employment opportunities from metros to smaller cities and villages. She spoke how her choice of being an Entrepreneur was looked down by her father but she pursued her heart's call. As per her Entrepreneurial venture is all about hard work and not gender. But yes ,she was privileged to be able to take a risk.
Sher Verick the lone male panelist wasn't to be cornered as he is a person credited with many journals on various aspects of employment. He is the Deputy Director of ILO County office for India. His current research focuses on changing work patterns of females in developing countries. He highlighted how there is a huge gap between requirement of employers and skill set of job aspirants. He too echoed Gayatri and Saloni's sentiment about women in the technical field. The statistics show that there are only 14.3% women involved in Scientific Research field. Social norms, insufficient finances, accessibility of women to certain jobs make matters worse. But the world sees a future place for work in India.My hearty praises to the organizers for such wonderful arrangements to facilitate the participation of the differently abled. The two interpreters who tirelessly worked deserve special mention. Among the audience a young girl from north eastern India spoke how being deaf has restricted her scope of finding a suitable job. She shared about her difficult life and how she had to start working at the tender age of ten. Being in Delhi has made matters worse as expenses are manifold but recourse to employment scant. She was asked to leave abruptly from a job owing to her little knowledge of English. She asked for guidance and help for employment which elicited assurance of assistance by the panelists.
The first session was very engrossing and encouraging. Soon there were two more speakers, the founder Editor in Chief of Youth Ki Awaaz, Anshul Tewari and Founder of Squadrun, Apurv Agrawal. I couldn't help but admire the passion and energy of these two young Entrepreneurs who have made a world of difference through their work. Anshul has been awarded various prizes in Social Media field and has made a change in the field of journalism. Apurv spoke of his business journey where people known to him with a specific skill set joined his business. He picked it step by step and kept creating value to his business. He spoke how Entrepreneurship allows the power of choice and flexibility. This power of choice reflects in output. Another flip side is that fund raising is a big challenge and everyone is your boss. There was a concern about Artificial intelligence ruling over human intelligence, resulting in job loss. Also how there is a lack of skill development and little insight about the industry. Apurv cited an example of an African Company Andela which is posing serious threats to big IT companies by creating a pool of skilled developers.
There were a galaxy of issues to be addressed and soon another panel of speakers joined in. This was an eclectic mix which saw Sarvesh Agrawal founder and CEO of Intershala. He spoke of the landscape of internship in India which like dating is expanding with every passing day. Nipun Malhotra, who despite being wheelchair bound, advocates for rights of the disabled through his foundation, Nipman. He conducts audits for companies to check their disable friendliness. He has serious objection on christening disabled people as Divyang by Prime Minister Modi as it is belittling. He feels hesitant to raise a cocktail as an almost divine status has been conferred upon him now.Karuna Nundy the outstanding speaker of the entire session is a Supreme Court Advocate with many landmark cases to her credit. Section 66A of IT Act was struck down in regard to freedom of online speech. She was actively involved in 2012 Nirbhaya Rape Case and drafting of new anti-rape laws. She clearly identified the root cause behind this gruesome act in patriarchy. She is also working on Womanifesto currently. She spoke about addressing discrimination and sexual harassment at workplace and also about stepping outside discriminating patriarchy structure. Freedom of fear means freedom of mind.
Anurag Mittal from NIESBUB spoke about various government schemes to facilitate Entrepreneurs with finances, business plans, proposals and even sale of their products. He was saddened to see Indian Entrepreneurial scene being eclipsed by Oxford educated mortals. He also stressed upon value education.
There was no dearth of ideas and brilliance of minds shone. The session was supposed to be over by 1:00 pm but ran until 2:30 pm. The excitement was still intact which poured over cutting chai and biscuit. What a lovely Saturday morning turned afternoon and brilliant effort by ILO & Youth Ki Awaaz.