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The University of Southampton
The India Centre for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development

Global game-changers: Southampton and Indian students making a real difference to ordinary livelihoods in rural India through a virtual paired internship programme  Event

8 March 2021
Presented via Zoom

Event details

High-level UK-India virtual roundtable to celebrate the achievements of global game-changers: Southampton and Indian students making a real difference to ordinary livelihoods in rural India through a virtual paired internship programme

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Date: Monday 8th March 2021
Time: 10.30 (GMT) | 4 pm (IST)
Register by Zoom

In November 2020, the University of Southampton India Centre in partnership with Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS), a leading NGO championing sustainable development and empowerment of women and girl children in rural India, and GRD College of Science launched the inaugural “The Kaifi Azmi Global-India Virtual Internship Programme”.  MWS, based in rural Uttar Pradesh, is committed to building just, equitable and sustainable communities across rural India. 

This prestigious roundtable is organised as part of University’s ongoing strategic efforts to deepen and diversify UK-India relations, and celebrate the outcomes and achievements of the inaugural “The Kaifi Azmi Global-India Virtual Paired Internships” programme which engaged talented students from UK and India who worked passionately in pairs to deliver impactful outcomes on live community development projects.

The interns were assigned to two live projects: Rozgar Dhaba -a community information hub: a public policy solution creating job opportunities and mitigating unsafe migration during COVID-19, and Project Samridhi aimed at designing an e-commerce platform for women entrepreneurs in rural areas.

Coinciding with the International Women’s Day and the Commonwealth Day, this high-level roundtable on March 8th will begin with special addresses from the globally renowned and award-winning Bollywood actress and President of MWS, Shabana Azmi and Professor, The Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford OBE, Chairman of India Business Group and Hon’ble Patron of University India Centre.

The roundtable will feature key note addresses from dignitaries including the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to UK, H.E. Mr. Charanjeet Singh, the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, H.E. Ms. Jan Thompson, and Dr. Ruth Kattumuri, Senior Director, Economic, Youth & Sustainable Development of the Commonwealth Secretariat

One of the key highlights of the event will be the felicitation of Miss Aditi Subedi, a young girl born and educated in Mijwan village, who recently made a successful debut into the Indian film industry. Baithak UK in partnership with the Southampton India Centre, the India Business Group London and GRD College of Science in India will honour Miss Subedi with the '2021 Most Inspiring Youth for Social Change’ award. The event will pay tribute to acknowledge the contributions of MWS staff who worked relentlessly to support poor and marginalised communities during COVID-19.

Shabana Azmi commented “I am delighted to see Mijwan Welfare Society’s partnership with University of Southampton growing strongly and significantly over the last few years. It is so refreshing to see how a simple innovative model of a paired virtual internship programme, engaging a high calibre of talented students from Southampton and GRD College of Science, generated meaningful impact on ordinary lives and livelihood in rural communities. Kudos to India Centre for supporting our work at Mijwan Welfare Society and realising our aspirations to fruition. I am delighted that Aditi Subedi from Mijwan who brings a message of social change through Baba Azmi’s film Mee Raqsam is being honoured on International Women’s Day and thank Baithak UK for its commitment to Art and Culture as an instrument of social change”. 

Meenakshi Venkatachalam currently pursuing Master of International Business at GRD, who worked on the Kaifi Azmi Global-India Virtual Internship Programme says “I learned lots about the process that goes behind creation of online database systems, how an NGO works and how effectively we can work together in a virtual platform is the biggest take away”. 

Meghna Sood who recently completed MSc Software Engineering from Southampton shares her perspective “When I joined Mijwan Welfare Society as an intern, it forced me to think for the people in need and that broaden my life perspective of challenges in villages in India, I have never designed an e-commerce platform before but with Vishaka and Mijwan team we managed to do this from scratch”. 

“This is the best possible internship program I have ever seen and this has truly helped the most needy people in this challenging time of COVID-19 and I see this as an effort to make the world a better place to live and bridge the increasing inequality gap, kudos to all the interns…” Mr. Vinod Pandey, CEO of MWS commenting on the successful and positive outcomes of the Kaifi Azmi Global-India Virtual Internship Programme.

Professor Jane Falkingham OBE, Vice-President International and Executive Director, University India Centre stated “As a global top 100 research-intensive University, we are delighted to support bilateral social enterprise initiatives engaging bright young minds and strengthen our existing collaboration with Mijwan Welfare Society, as part of our continued global commitment to changing the world for better”.

Dr. Sangeeta Datta, Founding Director of Baithak commented “I am delighted to offer the newly instituted award “Youth for Social Change” to the young Aditi Subedi who did a marvellous job in the feature film Mee Raqsam which questions social prejudice and celebrates a girl’s realisation of her dreams. We are very pleased to partner with University of Southampton, GRD College of Science and India Business Group in the institution of this award, and hope to draw focus on the terrific work being done by young people to trigger social change. As a young girl from the small village of Mijwan in Uttar Pradesh, Aditi’s dream to become a dancer and actor reflects the ambitions and infinite possibilities opening up for young girls and shifts in gender representation in India”. 

Professor KK Ramachandran, Vice-Principal of GRD College of Science says “Mijwan Welfare Society connecting our students from the India and UK to address real life challenges in village India and enabling positive impact at grassroots level has empowered our students to develop critical thinking skills and problem solving, and preparing them for the new global job market”.  

Mr. Amarjit Singh, CEO of India Business Group and founding co-Director of University India Centre says “this transformative collaboration between Mijwan Welfare Society and stakeholders in delivering cross-border enterprise projects amid the Covid-19 pandemic is refreshing, and adds significant value to the growing UK-India partnership as they embrace the Government of India’s flagship initiatives such as digital India and Make in India”. 


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