Prof. Sitikantha Mishra
We all witnessed how women scientists of Chandrayaan-3 mission played a crucial role in ensuring its success. Over 100 women scientists and engineers are reported to have been involved in this mission, which culminated in India landing its lunar rover on August 23 and becoming the first country to put a spacecraft near the moon’s South Pole.
According to World Bank data, women make up nearly 43% of total STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates in India, one of the highest in the world. In comparison, they comprise only 14% of scientists, engineers and technologists at research institutions and universities. As the world evolves and technology continues to shape our lives, it is crucial to equip our youth and especially women with the right skills and knowledge to thrive in the modern world. In this pursuit, Tata Power has emerged as a leading force, making significant contributions to foster STEM capabilities of youths.
Odisha is set to play a vital role in scripting India’s growth story through its mineral resources, industrial development and infrastructure projects. The state’s focus on renewable energy, with projects like the Kalinga Solar Park is poised to contribute towards India’s sustainable energy goals.
In such a scenario, global collaborations between academia and business are crucial for driving innovation, fostering research, and nurturing a skilled workforce. Recently, Tata Power’s Odisha Discoms have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with renowned universities of the state like Siksha O Anusandhan Deemed to be University (SOA), Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), Silicon Institute of Technology (SIT), Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology – Sarang (IGIT), and World Skill Center (WSC).
As part of the ‘Sparsh’ and ‘Train to Hire’ programmes, Tata Power seeks to provide hands-on experience to young individuals, enabling them to develop necessary skills and confidence for job roles in the power sector. The partnership will nurture and train enthusiasts of the power distribution sector through advanced training programmes and modules in areas like automation systems, regulations and standards, smart meter technology, energy auditing, and meter testing.
The company plans to develop customised training modules for engineering and diploma students, enhancing their knowledge competency and sharing best practices. Students who undergo this programme will also be considered during the recruitment process.
Such initiative will certainly create a win-win proposition for both industry and academia as through such partnerships, academia gains access to real-world challenges and resources, while businesses benefit from fresh ideas and talented individuals.
This is not the first time by a Tata Company to bring in such an initiative. For a long time, the Group has collaborated with various eminent universities across India to bridge the gaps between academia imparts, industry expectations, and most importantly real world situations. Institutions such as Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai have played a pivotal role in fostering innovation, leading a research based collaboration and has facilitated access to cutting-edge research, technology, and expertise for the students. These partnerships serve as catalysts for the holistic development of youths, nurturing their passion for STEM fields and empowering them to meet the challenges of the future, and witness work-integrated learning.
Such alliances promote academic, research and development projects while co-creating innovative solutions in energy distribution and allied areas. While nurturing young talents and shaping a sustainable energy future for the state, they certainly create a chance for the youth and women of the State to shine and show their prowess to the world.
Through initiatives like Skill development centres (SDC) and Vocational Training institutes, Tata Power along with collaborations with Group Companies such as TCS run a comprehensive employability scenario across Odisha to impart skills such as digital competencies, Electrical and Home Appliance Repairing and also Spoken English. For states like Odisha, such partnerships render the State to become an aspirational industrial hub with a strong knowledge foundation, and also a gateway to the ASEAN and the North Eastern Regions, thereby strengthening the Make in Odisha vision.
Beyond fostering collaborations, Tata Power’s Odisha Discoms’ have also contributed in developing STEM capabilities by focussing on gender diversity. Recognising the immense potential of women employees, corporates have taken a proactive step to encourage and empower them to take up technical roles. The Behrampur-based All-Women Meter Testing Laboratory exemplifies this commitment towards respecting gender diversity where the entire laboratory is being managed by skilled women technicians by providing them a suitable platform for showcasing their talents and expertise in calibration and testing.
As the private sectors continue to champion innovation and technological advancements, the youth of Odisha are presented with unparalleled opportunities to explore their potential in STEM fields. This trend-setting approach promises to shape a skilled and empowered workforce that will lead Odisha towards new heights of success in the years to come while narrowing the skills and opportunity gap.
In this dynamic journey towards progress, the private sector’s contributions will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the lives of young individuals and the trajectory of Odisha’s development, making it a true treasury of gems.
(The author is the Pro Vice-Chancellor of Siksha O Anusandhan.)