“We have submitted a proposal to the Government that we should be given a chance to apply for the National Skill Development University. NIELIT is already running formal as well as non-formal courses, if considered for NSDU, we will be able to issue our own certificates,” says Dr Ashwani Kumar Sharma, Director General, National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT). In an exclusive interview with Ankush Kumar, Dr Ashwani shares the preamble of the institution – its role in capacity building, skill development and how it has aligned its activities around Prime Minister’s vision of Digital India.
What is the mandate of NIELIT? Tell us about the new initiatives that you are planning to undertake from this year?
As on date, NIELIT has got the mandate to train manpower in the field of IT and Electronics and also a relatively new area like eWaste for which we are signing an MOU with MAIT. We are also associating with National Metrological Lab to design the course curriculum for eWaste. Secondly, we are planning to take up National Digital Literacy mission Disha( program) further to more than 300 citizens. And we are also now targeting to take up the capacity building in the field of Electronic System Design and Manufacturing. Here we have to train 15000 manpower per state, which means 4.5 lacs divided among three partners – telecom sector, electronic sector skill council and NEILIT. We are targeting a lakh minimum to be trained in the next three years. Besides this we are planning to come out with a new scheme which is called ICT for jobs, where we plan to train about 35 lakhs youths in the country in IT or related activities so that they become employable or become efficient to generate their own employment.
We have planned to train postal services officials; we have already submitted a proposal to the postal department and in case if it gets clicked will train around 1.5 lakh Daksevak in the country for the use of IT. These Daksevaks will get empowered to further take up the activity in pay ATM which will enable the post offices to render banking services.
How has the institution aligned its activities around the Digital India programme?
We are also planning to train manpower in new emerging areas like cloud computing, data analytics, GIS etc. We are also in search of partners and we have already released an expression of interest so that we can train the manpower that can support the Digital India pillar of the government. I am proud to say that Digital Locker, that has been developed and deployed by Department of Electronics and Information Technology, we are the only organisation that has got the highest number of certificate being made available. As a whole project, Andhara Pradesh Government has done better but they are clubbing the Digital Locker facility to all the departments within the Government of Andhra. But as a single institution we have placed around 9.5 lakhs digital certificates on the digital locker.
What is NIELIT’s expansion and modernization plan in near future?
We have got virtual classroom facility in our 19 centers and now we are extending it to other centers also, as on date we have around 35 centers. So we are planning that every center should have NCAN connectivity along with videoconferencing facility so that we can bridge the shortage of train teachers. Secondly, we are going in a massive way for e-content development for all our courses in regional languages. The purpose is that the student need not have to go to other places and if he is familiar with the technology he can go for the eContent development. Third is that we are putting automation in picture where we are trying to go for a end-to-end solution for the student in terms of his/her lifecycle. So we are floating a tender for that – the day a student gets registered the day he/she gets placement and after that also we are able to get their data captured and monitor that.
What kind of training and development programme is being conducted for the students?
We are conducting trainings in all the centres where the Engineering, MCA students can opt for practical trainings ranging from two months to six months where they have to pay bare minimum fees as the charges for training. Beside this we have come out with a scheme where we sponsor 10 students free of cost along with the stipend which is approved Rs 10,000. As far as other training is concerned we are trying to build in a system which can enhance soft skills and demonstrate live projects for better understanding.
What is NIELIT’s long term objective? Anything specific, that the institution wants to accomplish in the times to come?
We want in the times to come, may be a year or so everything in the education system should get automated – with an aim to have minimum interference of manpower. We are trying to build transparency in every activity by making most of our process from examination to recruitment online. We have submitted a proposal to the ministry that we should be given a chance to apply for National Skill Development University. NIELIT is already running formal as well as non-formal courses and this feature do not exist with other organisations. By this, we will be able to issue our own certificates. At present we have to issue the certificate as per the recommendation of the concerned university where our center is located.
We have also submitted a proposal for becoming a third party assessment body (certification board) for all type of skill sets. These are the two targets that we are set for NIELIT in the coming years.