Namchi Student Food Festival foreshadowing entrepreneurial growth post-COVID?
If one believed that festivals for selling traditional food during an ongoing pandemic were an unheard-of event, on 27th November, the Nehru Yuva Kendra (NYK) did the unthinkable by organizing a three-day-long food festival at Namchi Central Park.
One might wonder why, looking at Sikkim’s COVID-19 statistics being as they are - 4908 people having been so far affected, with 4455 recoveries and 103 deaths, an event like this would be organized. Some might find it foolish, while some support the brief respite from only having to look at dull and empty streets. Either way, the youth organization of NYK made sure to give students some time to fraternize as well as sow the seeds to their future career.
The citizens who attended the event might have noticed only one difference from previous food festivals, this one was completely run by children and adolescents in school. Students from three schools - New Secondary School, Namchi Senior Secondary School and Girls Senior Secondary School - participated in the event.
The motive of this festival was to create awareness about the notion of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and to develop and instil in the students, necessary entrepreneurship skills and motivate them to create a path for other local youths to go ahead with their business ideas. It gave the students a glimpse of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur not just in theory but in practicality too.
It has to be mentioned that rigorous safety measures were taken by the pupils to conduct the food festival in a sanitary environment.
The pandemic did not stop several young people to start small businesses online or even invest in start-ups that catered to people’s COVID-19 essentials. Events like not only let students know that the government is listening to them but also encouraging them to invest time into their ideas, injecting them with curiosity and implanting within them with a drive to do more.
Events like these also remind people that soon, coming together for community events and socialising will soon revert to its pre-corona state.
The idea of ‘Aatmanibhar Bharat’ or ‘self-sufficient/‘self-reliant India’ is to make the country along with the citizens, independent in all aspects. With the launch of the campaign, the PM also announced a special economic and comprehensive package of INR 20 lakh crores - equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP – to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Though many believe this idea of being completely self-reliant is a too optimistic view given the backdrop of an economy-shattering pandemic and of course, the controversial aspects to it, one cannot deny that giving young people a chance to showcase their business skills and ideas is in vain.
After all, there have been countless competitions in the last five years for pitching in the best business idea. Not to mention young entrepreneurs from Sikkim who have won and successfully built companies.
The state wholly supports people’s enthusiasm to become their own boss and create something from scratch. On Independence Day this year, the CM Prem Singh Tamang launched a subsidy scheme called Skilled Youth Start-up Scheme which is under the Department of Commerce and Industries. This scheme aims to generate equal entrepreneurial opportunities in the state's rural and urban areas, particularly among the educated yet unemployed youth.
It would also supervise young people in setting up their business and in navigating their finances, even providing subsidy assistance to those in the Below Poverty Line.
Despite all opinions on the matter, this event may foreshadow Sikkim’s entrepreneurial rise post-corona - and what a world it will be then.