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Ask a business school student to solve a village’s waste management problem and what do you get? A financially viable and sustainable development model for rural India.
The idea by Akhil Jain — a final year student at the Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee — bagged the first place at the Business Standard Best B-School Project Award held in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Jain, under the Gramotthan (uplifting a village) initiative, worked in Padli Gurjar village near Roorkee in Uttarakhand and helped 75 households manage their three-kg average weekly waste effectively by segregating it into recyclable and non-recyclable, at source. “Waste is accumulating in the villages faster than ever, posing health and environmental issues. Worse, there is almost no plan and willingness to tackle the issue,” said Jain.
To make this idea successful and attractive, Jain plans to rope in the gram panchayat, create large garbage-collecting containers and provide door-to-door service with a self-designed Gramotthan trash compacter. Besides, waste collectors and rag-pickers in the supply chain will be incentivised.
“The big upside of this project is that it is at the heart of the sustainability issue,” said the chairman of the five-member jury, Ajit Balakrishnan, founder and CMD of Rediff.com.
The other members of the jury were M G Parameshwaran, ED & CEO, FCB Ulka; Parag Saigaonkar, Regional MD, Deloitte Consulting India; R Suresh, MD, Stanton Chase and Jayant Kulkarni, President, Power Business Unit, Crompton Greaves.
Five participants who made the final cut from 150 entries from the country’s top business schools were earlier shortlisted by the jury, based on innovation, rigour, thought, clarity and how implementable their project ideas were. Deloitte had done the initial shortlisting of 15 projects.
Harsh Goyal, a final year student at the K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai, bagged the second place. Deeksha Khanna from the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, came third.
Goyal created a ready-reckoner data for use by officials at Darashaw & Company — a broker of government securities that also offers broking and consultancy services. As a summer associate in the company, Goyal analysed and ranked state governments and its financial positions based on various parameters. This allowed the dealers at Darashaw identify the better state governments and decide their clientele in respect to state guaranteed bonds. “I am looking to work with several state finance ministries on this aspect,” Goyal said.
Through this extensive state-wise data, Goyal said the dealers would have better investment recommendation and outlook. No competitors of the firm had such data, he said, and added that similar data could be prepared for other nations as well.
IIM-Lucknow’s Khanna won the honour for blending macroeconomic issues with consumer insights for efficient deployment for automated teller machines (ATMs), to win the third position.
She interned at Tata Communications Banking InfraSolutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Communications specialising in payment solutions for the banking and financial services sector. Khanna’s project involved understanding macro parameters and their relation with ATM usage, while developing transaction insights in the light of rapid increase in the rate of deployment of ATMs to an expected 1,000 per month and movement of the industry to a B2C sphere from B2B.
Through her project, Khanna provided detailed consumer insights and credible recommendations, which were immediately implemented at the organisation.
The two others shortlisted for the final round were Neha Dabhade, of the Vishwakarma Institute of Management, Pune, and Saurabh Pandey of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai.
Balakrishnan, who presented the awards in the presence of students, professors and deans of several business schools, said, “It is heartening that B-school students are looking at operations and sustainability issues and solving problems faced by the vast majority of Indians.” He added that it was the scope of the case studies and the size of the problems taken up by the students that decided the winners.
Parag Saigaonkar, Regional Managing Director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, said, “Apart from helping corporates in expanding their businesses, helping the society at large was the responsibility that students need to take up.”