We are pleased to bring to you our new projects on Independence Day. We got freedom 70 years ago as every Indian wanted freedom from the foreign yoke. Getting freedom was a result of this collective wish. We have got political freedom. However, we need freedom from many other issues. Mainly, we need freedom at the psychological level. Why should we depend every time on the government or on anyone else for a solution to our problem? Let us join hands to find solutions to our problems.
Seven decades ago on this day, on August 15, our country got freedom from the foreign rule. Hearty greetings to all on the occasion of completion of the journey that began 70 years ago with a dream of ‘New India’! The country was freed from the foreign yoke. However, we need freedom from many other issues. We need freedom from delayed development, crawling projects, red-tapism in the government, along with many other problems in our daily life. Generally, one holds the government responsible for all their problems. One must point out loopholes in the government machinery. However, people must join hands to solve their issues and make their lives more prosperous. This dialogue is intended to discuss collective action.
India has made strides in many fields in the past 70 years. The country, which could not even produce a pin, has started producing cryogenic engines. This is a big leap forward. Progress made in the fields of education, health and infrastructure have surely made a difference in our lives. However, this is not enough to sustain in the world of the future. We have to speed up development in all fields. People expect a lot from the political leadership. These expectations increase manifold when there is a change in the leadership. There is a view that development does not pick pace in the absence of an absolute majority. Indians have given this majority to Narendra Modi at the Centre and to a person from outside the established political class, Arvind Kejriwal, in Delhi. They have elected a new, young face in the form of Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra. However, changes are not taking place at the pace we expect, which may not be a fault of the leader or the system only. Many times, people in the authority also desire to bring this change and they also make efforts in that direction. However, vested interests put a spoke in their plans. It is observed that putting hurdles in such plans start from the tender process itself. This results in delays, which leads to disappointment. We will have to build a powerful leadership, who will check such elements. When all of us want a particular project to see the light of day, a government official sits on the file of the project or someone misuses a good concept such as the Right To Information (RTI) and brings everything to a halt. We will have to curb this with our collective might. A citizens’ cooperative network is the only answer to all such questions. The Sakal Media Group will encourage such positive networks of citizens and will take the lead for the purpose. We will have to look at the process of transformation from a new angle. The Sakal Media Group is taking initiatives in this direction.
Our aim should be to build a financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually rich life. The Sakal Media Group’s all future programmes will be woven around this formula.
We are confident about the success of the new initiatives undertaken By Sakal and also about the participation of the people. During our earlier initiatives, too, the Sakal Media Group got an overwhelming response from people across the State. Around 2 to 3 crore citizens from Maharashtra are connected with the Sakal Media Group. Big projects were accomplished through people’s wholehearted support to our programmes. Our experience says that when we all come together, we can easily resolve the most difficult challenges. The best example in this regard is that of our resolve to make the State drought-free. Sakal undertook a research through Agrowon. Experts from several fields, government officials, and farmers came together to conduct a water lab in Mumbai. This initiative led the way for effective water conservation measures. A new approach towards water management was found. By adopting some of the principles that came to the fore, the government designed its ‘Jalyukta Shivar’ scheme. This programme is proving useful in thousands of villages in the State. The Sakal Media Group, through its Tanishka, Women’s Dignity Forum, and with the help of villagers, conserved 530 crore litres of water in 256 villages in the State. Due to this initiative, several villages have become water tanker-free. Many rivers and nalas have been rejuvenated as a result of this initiative. This is a classic example of how scientific research, along with expert knowledge and citizens’ participation, can lead to transformation. However, just water conservation measures are not adequate. We will undertake a comprehensive programme for increasing productivity and provide a proper market to farmers for their produce.
The power of public participation is also evident in the cases of Tanishka and Young Inspirators Network (YIN). The Tanishka forum has accomplished an extraordinary task of social and economic empowerment of women. The forum has played a key role in boosting the confidence of women and encouraged them to develop leadership qualities. There have been over 15,000 success stories of women in the fields of health, hygiene, water supply, irrigation, transport management and entrepreneurship development. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took help of this forum to complete the quality audit of works done under the Jalyukt Shivar programme. Corporate majors such as Google approached this forum to spread the Internet technology in rural areas. These examples are enough to show the success of the movement called Tanishka, Women’s Dignity Forum. It is also a success of the Sakal Media Group’s efforts in implementing its all-inclusive programmes. In tandem with these efforts, the Sakal Media Group is launching the Annapurna scheme with the government’s support.
Another initiative of Sakal Media Group, YIN has set up a strong mechanism for developing leaders from among youths and is imparting skills to them for their future life while kindling a feeling of social responsibility in them. This network has spread in 3,000 colleges by connecting 25 lakh collegians. The Sakal Media Group had conducted a survey, ‘Apeksha Maharashtrachya’, (Expectations of Maharashtra) to know views of planners, policy makers, experts, along with specialists from various fields and common people on 16 sectors for the all round development of the State. A well-researched presentation was made based on replies to questions such as how much capital needs to be invested in the State? How many jobs need to be generated? What should be the State’s GDP growth rate? The Sakal Media Group has been continuously following up the progress made on these fronts.
An investment to the tune of USD 50,000 crore is required for the State to progress rapidly in various fields. The Sakal Media Group is currently conducting an in-depth research on various aspects of investment, including prospective investors, the areas and the manner in which these funds can be utilised. We are confident that we will be able to achieve this through public participation and with help from the government.
Sakal believes a system should be developed to help an individual to develop at every stage of their life. With this objective in mind, we will be focusing on the following seven major areas:
Education and Skill Development:
Proper skill development will be a significant point of focus in the years to come. Imparting job-oriented skills and acquiring new skills later in life is extremely important in today’s competitive world.
The Sakal International Learning Centre (SILC) is taking up training programmes to mould young people as entrepreneurs. SILC is also founding a university for the purpose of introducing the new generation to the new skills in the market. Under the initiative ‘YIN Catapult Harvard Programme’, nearly three lakh students associated with YIN, will be trained as entrepreneurs. Co-operation will be sought from globally renowned institutions for training purposes. The US-based Catapult has tied up with Harvard Business School, Kennedy School of Government, Google, McKinsey & Company, BBDO, Ashoka’s Youth Venture, and DLA Piper. These advisors work directly with the startup during the program to build the idea to a stage ready for investment.
Appropriate investment is the highway to a generation of wealth. For this, knowledge of the financial sector is essential; discipline is also needed. There is a scheme to raise two to three funds (impact funds), where investors’ money will be invested in good projects through research. The direction of these funds is to invest in companies that are socially responsible. The common man will get an opportunity to invest in social projects such as Smart City, Smart Village and Annapurna through these funds. Besides, there will be a personal fund so that the common man can benefit from his investments. A start-up fund will also be formed to provide a fillip to entrepreneurs. A periodical and a digital platform will soon be set up to provide guidance on personal finance to those associated with Sakal. Announcements in this regard will be made.
The Sakal Media has become a multi media group as it publishes Sakal, Sakal Times, Gomantak, Gomantak Times, Agrowon and several other periodicals. It is present in digital space in the form of eSakal and other websites and broadcast journalism through Saam TV. Several periodicals and digital platforms, keeping in mind needs of youth, women, senior citizens, investors and others, are set to be launched.
DCF Advisory has been set up to provide advisory services for a social and economic change. It will be a mechanism to provide strategic advice and guidance for implementation at various levels to the government. Co-operation will be sought from Palladium, Pemandu Associates and the Tel Aviv Municipality from Israel for the same. These will help related units in bringing about a positive change in terms of governance, economy and policy.
Many transformational initiatives will be undertaken by Delivering Change Foundation (DCF), Sakal Relief Fund and Sakal Social Foundation, keeping in mind the needs of society. Women from various parts of the State will soon get employment opportunities through the to-be-launched ‘Annapurna’ initiative. Women will cook dishes, delicacies specific to their areas and they will be provided with an appropriate market to sell their products. The Annapurna scheme will benefit three lakh women in the State through Tanishka and Women’s Dignity Forum. Along with this, an agri-skilling programme for skill development of farmers is set to be launched. There is no doubt that this programme, conducted through Agrowon’s initiative, will bring a positive change. Sakal is also establishing the ‘Symple’ network for senior citizens and ‘Mahan Rashtra Network’ to help various sections of society to find answers to their problems. Sakal will also start a network for physically challenged or ‘Divyang’ persons.
Various initiatives launched through Sakal events will also support the new ideas for social transformation. Delivering Change Forum (DCF) organised in Mumbai in January this year or Educon, which has been happening for the past 12 years, has brought together experts from across the globe and active people from all walks of life across the State and the country. It is Sakal Media Group’s endeavour to launch more such platforms in the future. These platforms will be available for anyone in India and from abroad, who has something to say to or share with society. We are setting up offices in Berlin in Germany and Israel to keep track of best practices in development activities happening at the international level and to try and introduce such practices here in India. ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is our tradition. The vision behind these initiatives is to bring the best initiatives happening around the world to make life more prosperous here.
Several projects will be implemented in the fields of Smart City, Smart Village, start-ups, etc. An ideal model of rural development is being created through ‘Smart Village’ with the help of latest technology and people’s participation. This movement has already begun in five select villages, in cooperation with experts from Israel. For the Smart City project also, we are experimenting to set up a system to enable a continuous communication between citizens and the government administration. One such project, ‘DigiThane’, will soon start in Thane. The objective behind these projects is to prepare a Smart Citizen, whose life would be meaningful, easy and intelligently active. As a part of this project, the Sakal Media Group will extend all possible help to the individuals, who dream of launching their own start-ups.
Also, on this Independence Day, we are glad to bring to you our new projects. We got freedom 70 years ago because every Indian wanted to get freedom from the oppressive foreign rule. Independence was a result of this collective wish. Today, we have got political freedom. However, we are yet to get freedom from several other issues. Mainly, we need freedom at the psychological level. Why should we always depend on the government or anybody else for getting answers to our questions? Let’s unite to find answers to our problems!
Roads develop potholes every year. Can this be prevented? Yes, it is possible if citizens keep a vigil on road construction right from the tender process till it is built.
We need a guru, a guide to lead a successful and prosperous life. Our parents, teachers and society imbibe good values in us. As a small contribution to this process is the Sakal Media Group’s initiatives and the platforms it has built, which have reached out to around 2.5-3 crore of people in Maharashtra. A positive change that we expect to bring about wouldn’t be possible without participation from the people. Hence, we will have to build a mechanism to help ourselves, which will not just indulge in finding faults. It will take all stakeholders along and find solutions to their issues. Tanishka, Women’s Dignity Forum, has done it. Now, we all will do it.
Using the three-pronged strategy of ‘peace’, ‘cooperation’ and ‘prosperity’, the Sakal Media Group has prepared a road map for the next decade, in which you may either have a role of a teacher or of a student. Each one of you has an opportunity to participate. Some of you can give their time, some can enrich others with their experience while some others can provide financial support. We chant this prayer daily. This prayer is the core of Sakal Media Group’s efforts. We all should join hands for our well-being. Let us become a part of this movement, which will bring life-transforming changes in the coming 5 to 10 years.