Monthly Archives: September 2010

British Council : Inspiring Young Minds

Climate change is the most pressing problem of my generation. Political will, as well as practical changes towards adaptation and mitigation of climate change has to come from the electorate, social entrepreneurs, young policy makers and social workers.

Unfortunately the effects of climate change are not clearly evident or easily traceable. For the first time in our history, the very efficient but short sighted free-market framework is not going to solve the problem. Scarcity has moved from human capital to natural resources, and the Economy we live does not reflect this fundamental change.

The British Council has taken concrete steps to catalyse the mass mobilisation the world needs in order to act against Climate change. With its youth focus, presence in 107 countries and understanding of national cultures the British Council is ideally placed to help create the atmosphere and new ideas the world needs.

I have been a British Council Climate Champion for more than 3 years now and I doubt I can do the experience justice in words. Every programme I have participated in has been efficiently run, very focussed, with measurable outcomes. Perhaps most importantly they are inspiring. The concept of bringing together people form all around the world with different spheres of focus all related closely with climate change and allowing them to interact in an academic atmosphere very conducive to thought and idea exchange has sparked many collaborations and has lead to the wide transfer of many good ideas.

A lot of innovative ideas and solutions to Climate Change must come form the bottom up. Top down solutions have rarely caused a massive positive change. It is the innovation, elegant, mutable , evolutionary nature of the market that tends to throw up the best ideas. We have seen over and over how a small project run by a few passionate individuals has changed things in the words of Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

By focussing on identifying and helping to trouble-shoot grassroots projects started by young people The British Council are causing social change in one of the most important ways possible.

By offering the contacts and the expertise to help grow small projects, the British Council helps ideas become reality. A year ago I decided it would be very interesting to travel across India going from village to village collecting stories of people whose lives had been changed by climate change. The British Council connected me up with a local NGO in Kolkata which became my first case study. It was from this starting point that I could produce a report that Greenpeace incorporated in a paper they prepared for the Prime Minister.

However the British Council’s work doesn’t stop there. For the large scale mobilisation of entrepreneurs to occur, and for the market to throw up the ingenious solutions that have come to define human existence over the last few centuries, we need to subtly change market incentives so that new environmental ideas are financially viable.

To this end the British Council has begun to catalyse youth to move towards considering policy solution to climate change. This is an important move as without the correct incentives the situation will continue as it is, with organisations only interacting with climate change as part of their CSR programmes with negligible effects.

I was with the British Council in Copenhagen, where I worked with the UNFCCC Youth constituency. A group of over 30 of us from countries all over the world learnt first hand how negotiations happen and what the latest debate was about. These interactions helped build our policy knowledge, and by actively participating in the Youth Constituency it gave us first hand experience with Climate Change legislation and policy.

I see the British Council as one of the organisations that is actually making a difference on the ground. By working with thousands of climate champions in many countries the British Council is a leader in the field, and a very dynamic and effective force in helping to change attitudes and action to do with climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Post by – Agastya Muthanna ©

BA (Hons.) , MA Candidate
Faculty of Economics
University of Cambridge.

Consultant at the Ministers Office,
Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India.

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India’s Got Talent

Everyone loves award ceremonies: the glitz, the glamour, the fabulous dresses…

We’re no different at the British Council, so September kicked off with our own award ceremony, an evening to celebrate India’s creativity, inspiration and entrepreneurial talent.

The British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur programme (YCE) has been running in India since 2005, the only programme of its kind in India, unique in its focus on creative entrepreneurs. This year for the first time, the programme included its own award ceremony, announcing India’s brightest emerging entrepreneurs in seven different sectors – Interactive, Screen, Communications, Design, Performing Arts, Publishing, and Fashion.

Till date the programme has reached out to 763 entrepreneurs, making India’s network of creative entrepreneurs the largest within the International YCE programme. The entrepreneurs are all attracted by the chance of winning a prestigious award, of course: but it’s also a great opportunity to network with like-minded creative minds, both in India and the UK.

Crucially, the programme couldn’t be as successful without the support of partners who share our vision and bring in expertise. Elle India, Elle Decor and Oxford Bookstore worked with us for awards in fashion, design and publishing respectively; while the programme also tied up with the Indian Angel Network (IAN), India’s largest business angel network with over 120 individual and institutional members worldwide. Sunil Kalra, Sandeep Goyal (Dentsu India), Abhishek Rungta (Indus Net Academy) and Jai Vikram Bakshi (Digiqom Solutions) represented IAN on the judging panels, and provided their expertise and feedback on revenue models, business skills and opportunities to scale up.

And even when the awards were over, the night had just begun: a showcase of works by YCE alumni, illustrating the programme’s larger cultural impact, culminated with YCE Fashion awardee Varun Sardana giving an exclusive preview of his Spring / Summer 2011 collection in his characteristically theatrical and innovative style. It was the first time in India that a designer has presented his Spring/Summer collection in a venue other than the Fashion Week, and we were particularly pleased because Varun was recently signed up by Blow PR, a fashion PR agency based in the UK, after he worked with the British Council to participate in the Alchemy Festival in London earlier this year.

Ruth Gee, British Council Regional Director, India & Sri Lanka was seen wearing a creation by Namrata Shah, the runner-up awardee of the 2009 YCE Fashion award, who works with crafts people in the remote villages of Karnataka. Ruth’s creation came from Namrata’s Woven Wonder collection, in which each bead is meticulously woven in to form exquisite patterns on a silk sari, proving that the fabulous dresses weren’t just confined to the catwalk.

The 2010 YCE winners are some of the brightest from within India’s creative industries:

YCE Interactive Anup Tapadia, TechnoKarma Labs & TouchMagix Media
YCE Screen Yugandhar Tammareddy, Pixelloid Computer Services
YCE Communications Sandeep Maheshwari, Mash Audio Visuals Ltd
YCE Design Preksha Baid, Y-walls Design
YCE Performing Arts Magesh Kumar Gurumurthy, IndianStage
YCE Publishing Leonard Fernandes, Cinnamon Teal Publishing
YCE Fashion Sanjay Garg, Raw Mango

Special commendation was given to YCE Performing Arts: Kanak Gupta and YCE Fashion: Rixi Bhatia

The judges this year included sector leaders:

  • Mahesh Murthy (Pinstorm)
  • Naved Akhtar (The Shop)
  • Rajesh Dahiya (Codesign)
  • Wendell Rodricks
  • Girija Goswamy (Marks & Spencer)
  • Amit Gulati (Incubis Consulting)
  • Douglas Rintoul (Complicite)
  • Charanpreet Singh (Praxis Business School)
  • Rajesh Rao (Dhruva Interactive)
  • B R Sharan (Saregama)
  • Anjum Katyal (Saregama)
  • Debashis Biswas (Macmillan India)
  • Xavier Rashid (Raindance Festival UK)
  • John Kirk (Birmingham City University UK)


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