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How ATLs Are Boosting Skills of Indian Youth

How ATLs Are Boosting Skills of Indian Youth
How ATLs Are Boosting Skills of Indian Youth
R. Ramanan and Ronak Jogeshwar


Every year on 15 July creators, makers, and innovators around the world, who are making this tiny blue planet of ours more liveable, celebrate World Youth Skills Day.

Recent events such as the election of India for the eighth term as Non-Permanent UN Security Council Member and the Prime Minister’s clarion call to make India ‘Aatmanirbhar’ have put Indian youth in the spotlight. We are excited about what the future has in store.

At Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, we are committed to enabling our youth to learning new skills. Covid-19 presented us with a unique opportunity to innovate and leverage digital technology for enhancing the skills and creativity of young students even during the lockdown.

The goal was simple, enable Indian youth connected with NITI Aayog through the Atal Tinkering Labs community to step up, learn, and innovate.

Accordingly, AIM launched the #TinkerfromHome initiative and the ATL Community Day Challenge on Ambedkar Jayanti (14 April 2020), where young students and teachers honed various skills such as design thinking, artificial intelligence, 3D design, game development, mobile- and web-app development, drones, creativity, and digital learning.

The ‘Tinker from Home’ campaign was created in collaboration with experts from industry, academia, and Indian startups such as NASSCOM FutureSkills, Dell-LLF, Adobe, Lego, IIT Delhi, NIC CollabCAD, Drona Aviation, Plezmo and many others.

The ‘ATL Community Day Challenge’ witnessed over a thousand innovative ideas from young students to tackle the Covid-19 challenge. The top 30 ideas selected were represented by 25 states, which proves the richness of the innovative minds of our youth across the length and breadth of India.

With a combination of thought leadership and action-oriented approach, AIM engaged with over 3000 schoolteachers and trained them in developing skills such as game design, coding, and app development to better equip them to further train budding innovators under their wings. With 5100+ ATLs already established, more than 2 million students have access to these state-of-the-art resources for learning and stimulating their creative thinking.

In his speech earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too stressed, ‘India needs to skill up, re-skill and up-skill to become self-reliant and aatmanirbhar.’

More than two-thirds of the Indian population is in the working age of 20-59 years. This demographic dividend is shifting towards better work culture and nature of the job, where ‘skill’ becomes aspirational’. Taking inspiration from his thoughts, AIM has grown and nurtured the above-mentioned initiatives with Made-in-India startups and associations.

In a particularly uplifting story, as many as 300 individuals or ‘makers’ brought together the largest unorganized makerspace movement of India: ‘M19 collective’. These individuals, who did not previously know each other, were able to manufacture 1 million open source design face shields in 42 cities, towns, and villages within a span of 49 days! Undoubtedly this initiative is an ode to the power of a community and the capability of the local manufacturing ecosystem.

To compete, conquer and thrive in this century, Indian youth must constantly upgrade their skillsets. We are a part of an infinite game, where players must constantly gather new resources and skills to stay in the game. Embracing the infinite (growth) mindset will help us build strong and innovative ecosystems in an ever-changing and evolving world.


Ramanan Ramanathan is Mission Director and Ronak Jogeshwar is Innovation Lead, AIM. Views expressed are personal.