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Lifetime Achievement: Dr C Rangarajan, Chairman Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister

Dr C Rangarajan is a leading economist of the country, who has played a key role both as an academician and a policy maker. Currently Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, he was also Chairman of the 12th Finance Commission. He was Governor of Andhra Pradesh between 1997 and 2003. As Governor, Reserve Bank of India during 1992-97, he was instrumental in steering the country through Balance of Payments crisis. He initiated far reaching reforms in India’s financial sector to make banks competitive and efficient. These included deregulation of interest rates, introduction of prudential norms and credit regulation, shifting to market determined exchange rate system, making the rupee convertible on the current account and the cessation of the automatic monetisation of the budget deficit. As Chairman of the 12th Finance Commission, he brought about a paradigm shift in fiscal federalism, reinforced the imperative of fiscal responsibility for growth and poverty reduction and defined a framework for fiscal adjustment at the centre and in the states.

It was, Dr Rangarajan who introduced computerisation in banking system.  Despite facing resistance from trade unions, he went ahead and made it mandatory, starting with RBI followed by banks. He also took the bold decision of opening up bank accounts for women Self Help Groups. This was when many said – don’t do it!  Today there are more than 2 million Self Help Groups with bank accounts. Due to his commitment and his deep foresight, Dr Rangarajan was recently appointed Chairman of the Committee on Financial Inclusion.

He was a Member of the Planning Commission in 1992. A teacher at heart, Dr Rangarajan was for over a decade and half, Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad before he took up the position of Deputy Governor at RBI.

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Person of the Year: Ms Neelam Dhawan, Microsoft

Corporate sector has to walk in step with the government to achieve inclusive growth. It requires new business models and use of technology where sustainability and social responsibility do not work at cross-purposes. Neelam Dhawan, Managing Director of Microsoft India, starting with the legendary PC price wars in the nineties, has been leveraging technology, helping localize it and making it available at affordable price points to encompass an increasing base of Indians who are today at the right side of digital divide. At Microsoft she has been steering paradigms like Saksham, and Shisksha. While project Saksham is enabling establishment of 50,000 kiosks across rural India to provide education, financial and other services, project Shiksha is delivering computer literacy to 200,000 government school teachers and nearly 1 million children. Neelam is passionately committed to the cause of Small and Medium Enterprises. She has contributed to Project Vikas, which is a scalable five year action plan designed to enhance the competitiveness of India’s SME sector, encompassing skill and capacity building, knowledge creation and dissemination, and enablement of linkages in a cluster ecosystem. She hopes to create internal efficiencies through increased ICT absorption in a gradual manner thereby reducing operational and transactional costs. May her tribe increase!

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CIO of the Year: Ashish Kumar Chauhan, Reliance Industries

Mr Ashish Kumar Chauhan works as the President and CIO at Reliance Industries. He was associated with Reliance Infocomm till 2005 from concept to implementation and operations. He is known as one of the five founders of India’s largest automated exchange: the National Stock Exchange, which is considered to be the amongst the top three markets in the world ranked by the number of trades per day. At NSE he was in-charge of operations of Equity and Derivatives markets for over 7 years in addition to setting up of initial IT infrastructure.

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Grassroots Woman of the Year: Laya Tandi, Self Help Group/Kalahandi

Ms Laya Tandi, is a scheduled caste woman from Village Karmath in remote Kalahandi, Orissa. She has, along with 13 other women, formed a Self Help Group that has solved local problems like electrification, road construction, and proper distribution of mid-day meal for school children. The group is availing loans from State Bank of India, for both farm and non-farm activities. The group has been running a goatery unit for the last three years and has recently set up an onion storage centre. The group has so far, saved 43,000 rupees. Ms Tandi is a member of village education committee, watershed committee and forest protection committee. She has also played a vital role in formation of a federation of 100 SHGs and is its founder president. Skoch Team had in the recent past visited Kalahandi and interacted with her.

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Academic Excellence: IIT-Bombay

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Financial Inclusion: Mr Jeevan Madhur - LIC

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Academic Excellence: Dr Bakul Dholakia, IIM-A

IM-Ahmedabad is not just a business school but an institute of management. It has assumed upon itself a role, that is much wider and ambitious, than other business schools in the country. While majority of its graduates are absorbed in the corporate sector, it also prepares them for a career in management in non-conventional sectors like agriculture, health, e-governance and even rural development.  It has been working for rural Intellectual Property Protection and has helped create patents and databases. It has identified rural entrepreneurs and encouraged them to convert their innovations into marketable products. Efforts like dew harvesting have brought relief to draught prone areas in Kutch region. IIM-Ahmedabad has inculcated a new engine through capacity building. About 160 CIOs from Andhra Pradesh have already been trained by the institution for service delivery using IT, taking the services closer to the citizens.

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Citizen Services: CHOiCE, Chhattisgarh

The challenge was to have development while building public confidence. CHOiCE or Chattisgarh Online information for Citizen Empowerment did it exactly for the state, by identifying 22 services for citizens, like providing birth and death certificate, ration cards and many more service, online. CHOiCE provides one stop shop solution, for anywhere, anytime, based secure services for all the requirements of a citizen. These include connectivity, information, IT educaton, e-governance and e-commerce, as observed by Team Skoch at Raipur.

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Rural Delivery System: State Bank of India

State Bank of India is country’s largest bank and also the largest player in micro-finance sector. The bank has been an active participant in microfinance programs initiated by NABARD since 1992. It has opened more than 630,000 bank accounts for Self Help Groups of which more than 550,000 SHGs have been provided with credit. It is benefiting nearly 7.5 million poor people.  The bank has encouraged them to engage in income generation activities like fish farming, wood carving, bamboocraft and so on. Team Skoch observed, that such efforts have brought economic benefits, even to people living in remote places like Kalahandi. The bank is now targeting to credit link 1 million SHGs by the year 2008. In addition, it will also be putting up 6,000 rural kiosks to encourage banking habits among the rural masses.

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Change Management: Dr A K Khandelwal, Bank of Baroda

Dr Anil Khandelwal, Chairman and Managing Director, of Bank of Baroda always believed, that brands are important, as they create expectations that you need to deliver to. Upon assuming charge two years ago, he unleashed a re-branding exercise that introduced not only a new brand logo but also changed the way Bank of Baroda functions. The Baroda Sun is reflective of a new dynamism, a new energy, and a modern image that the bank has now successfully created. Starting with the most important asset, Bank of Baroda’s 40,000 employees across 2,800 branches are an enthused lot due to re-training, capacity building and using their own employees for tele-marketing etc.

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Capacity Building: Farmers’ Training College, Punjab National Bank

Punjab National Bank has brought a dramatic change in the lives of farmers through its six Farmers Training Centers across the country. 7 FTCs are already operational and 2 more will be opened by the end of 2007. More than 83,000 farmers including 11,000 women have been trained in various short term courses, duration of which was one to four days. It has excited the farmers from use of vermicompost to teaching the potters new styles at these centres. That has not only enhanced their earning but also given them a new confidence. PNB has also helped in women empowerment, by providing them training, loans and marketing. It has also provided computers to village youth. Some of them have got jobs and a few of them have started their own training centres. Skoch Team, experienced it first hand, at FTCs in Sachhakheda and Neemrana.

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Capacity Building: Village Knowledge Centre, Union Bank of India

Union Bank of India, launched a project, called Village Knowledge Centre.  The aim was to provide best practice and opportunity for villagers to offer information about what to grow and how to get better yield. VKC – the bank feels is a special purpose vehicle to get financial inclusion of all in the sphere, particularly in rural areas. VKC has touched lives of marginal farmers, encouraging them to breed honey bee, grow specific vegetables and start fish farming. There are more income generating schemes that VKC plans to offer. VKC concept, was launched nearly a year ago, and already has 101 centres. Skoch Team visited Neerpara in Cochin and studied the project.

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Social Impact: Kachhighati Watershed, NABARD

It is the story of power of people management. The project involved a certain social discipline, like, ban on grazing and, tree felling. The results were so good that even those who conceptualised it were astonished, to witness emergence of an oasis in the midst of a rocky and difficult terrain of Kachighatti in Aurangabad district in Maharashtra which was treaded by Team Skoch. It was possible because villagers participated in all the planning phases including the land use and women’s participation. The watershed management was so successful that about 29 wells were recharged and the average income of the farmers increased by as much as 20,000 rupees. Thanks to NABARD, they are the people, who are in control of their destiny.

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Social Impact: Shatabdi Gram Yojana, Bank of India

Bank of India as part of its philosophy to reach masses and to celebrate 100 years launched a scheme last year, not just one more of its various schemes, but one that involved people’s participation. The project aimed at skill upgradation and sustainable development, particularly in rural areas is with people and for the people. 128 Villages, 79 districts, 17 states across the country and is benefiting 300,000 people and about 60,000 households. Bank of India is also supporting Nirmal Gram Yojana to bring civic amenities in villages. It is playing an active role in providing computerised village kiosks for e-governance, use of non-conventional energy and water management. This was observed by Team Skoch at places like Thiruvellur in Tamil Nadu, and Wardha in Gujarat.

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ICT in Education: Soochna Shakti Yojana, Chhattisgarh

Currently covering more than 200 schools and touching the lives of more than a hundred thousand girl students, the Chattisgarh Soochna Shakti Yojna – the Girl Child Computer Education Program in Chattisgarh has been an instant hit. The aim, is to prepare the girls, for any professional course immediately after they complete their school education as they are already IT literate.  Aimed at bridging digital divide this will help them in achieving their career goals. It was observed, by Team Skoch, at Raipur that through this project the state government, has been able to reach out to those sections of society, that have so far been unexposed to technology. The results have been very encouraging and Chattisgarh now intends to upscale this project to cover, boys also.

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EDITOR’S CHOICE: India Post, Department of Posts/NIC

Department of post with more than 156,000 post offices is one of the government’s largest departments that has a lot of IT applications in its services, to reach large number of consumers, particularly in far flung areas of the country. The department has ensured that its services are always available particularly its financial services. The e-Post, Instant Money Order and Postal Life Insurance are reflective of its ability to adopt the latest in technology to outreach a larger mass even in areas as remote as North East. Since the Post Office System has larger network compared to banks, it is now being called upon to play a prominent role in taking banking services to the unbanked in unreachable areas.

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EDITOR’S CHOICE: IISFM, Food Corporation of India/NIC

While India is supposed to have 650 million families that are below the poverty line, the actual number of BPL cards issued is much higher. The difference is one area where a leakage could be taking place in the public distribution system. There have also been other instances where there was mismatch in the grain dispatched from the godowns at the state level and that received by the block level agencies and finally various PDS shops. There were also discrepancies between what the PDS shops get and what is distributed to the citizens. Integrated Information System for Food Grains Management or IISFM is attempting to fix this problem. The software captures data of entire food grain released from the Food Corporation of India’s godowns to various state food grain corporations and then matches this with the grain picked up by each of the ration shops. It is already Implemented at 460 FCI owned godowns and is being implemented in 230 rented ones. This data is available online and at places in Delhi even consumers can log on to check availability of food grain at the Fair Price Shops before making a trip to the ration shop as observed by Team Skoch in Delhi; Bhubaneswar in Orissa; and, Rai Bareilley and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.

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EDITOR’S CHOICE: Transport, Delhi

In an endeavour to bring the government closer, to its people, with a promise to provide an open and transparent administration, Government of Delhi harnessed the power of Information Technology to boost governance. Many of its departments got computerised at a faster pace and one of the biggest beneficiary was transport department. Most of its operations including licenses and registration have been computerised. Long queues and wait for hours and sometime days is past. Citizen can come to the transport department and within a stipulated time one can get license, without middlemen.