India has the demographic advantage. However, that will mean nothing if certain interventions are not taken in the health and education segments. It is in this direction the American India Foundation (AIF), which has been supporting some programmes in Telangana and other States as well, has decided to extend its activities further, tells Raj Sharma, Board of Director, American India Foundation, to B Krishna Mohan.
AIF and Hyderabad chapter
I am on the board of AIF, formed in 2001. The money is raised by Indians in America and it is directed to take up programmes including education of the marginalised children, disabled people, women entrepreneurship and public health. We work together with local governments. We are also planning to set up a chapter of AIF in Hyderabad in association with local business people and entrepreneurs. The local chapter will allow AIF to raise money in India as well as and not just in the US. Right now, 80 per cent of the money comes from the US and remaining from India. We would like to make it 50-50 eventually. About 50 per cent of the support comes from non-Indians, who believe in the potential of India.
AIF’s Digital Equalizer (DE) programme in Hyderabad and other parts of the country has been bridging educational and digital divide by bringing technology to select Government schools. In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, since its inception in 2002, the DE has reached 541 schools in 20 districts impacting 4,546 teachers and about 2,00,000 students. Currently in 2019-20, it is influencing 469 teachers and 18,179 students in 105 schools in Telangana and 17 schools in Andhra Pradesh. In Telangana, Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Medchal, Karimnagar, Sircilla and Bhupalapally are covered. There is also a six-month programme which teaches spoken English and other basic skills. We match the trained candidates with employers. In Hyderabad, IT and Services are focus while textiles and tourism modules are offered in other places.
We want to increase investments in public health in rural areas. Focus is reducing the maternal and infant mortality rate, which is high in some pockets. AIF coordinates with doctors on health issues. We are readying a programme to develop more sources of clean water. About 80 per cent of the people are in hospitals due to the water-borne diseases. We are teaming up with corporates to tap into the CSR funds.
Love for Hyderabad
I was an RJ with Yuvavani for six years till 1980. Later, our family left for the US. I did my MBA from Osmania University campus and my bachelors from Nizam College. Hyderabad has always been a land of immigrants. If you go about 200 years back, there has been immigration to the city from Andhra, Madras, Maharashtra and other places in 1850 to get a better life and better jobs here.
The developments happening are amazing and the quality of infra is superior. Hyderabad is a world-class city but has traffic issues. Metro rail is good and this should ease the problem to an extent. Here, people are optimistic. Startup ecosystem is blossoming well. Mentoring is the key as it creates more companies. Problem solving, and not money, should be the mindset. We should accept failures as not all ideas click. If failures are not accepted, nobody will take risks.