Centurion Challenges in India – an internship that makes a difference to communities.
It won’t surprise you that India, with the second largest population in the world has many challenges. Centurion University is located in Odisha, India’s second poorest state with 25% of the population being tribal or indigenous. As you might guess there are plenty of challenges looking for solutions and that is where you come in.
You can select to be a part of a small team (max. 4), overseen by Centurion University or it’s social outreach arm, Gram Tarang, working on the following challenges:
1. Create a business plan to scale-up the electric rickshaw enterprise
With the recent achievement of road registration for these vehicles, there is a need to map out strategies for marketing the product and creating service outlets that offer an enviable sales position. Local young people in Odisha are keen to develop a start-up business marketing and selling the e-rickshaws across India. Drawn from a rural school dropout community, they have limited skills and require guidance in developing their business. Multiple projects can contribute to making this enterprise succeed.
2. Improve exposure of village artists and musicians to create livelihood outcomes
There is tremendous talent among village artist and musicians which often gets little opportunity to reach a wider audience. Student may devise ways to use media and IT to reach out to audiences more widely. They may also explore expanding the minds of villagers to consider adapting their skills to more marketable or simply alternative products; e.g. adapting the skills of wood or stone carvers to create woodcuts (or stone) which can then be printed from.
3. Map socio-economic demography of Kargil slum and create improvement strategies
Centurion University has established the Urban Micro Business Centre on the edge of the Kargil slum. It is just one response to the chronic needs of the slum dwellers. This can involve many dimensions including improvements in the recording of births and deaths, migration patterns, employment patterns, housing, community management, family relations and lifestyle including domestic violence, recreation options, housing and sanitation etc. There is a need to better understand the population of the slum dwellers, identify sources of tension and create community improvements.
4. Improve packaging and branding of UMBC and Gram Tarang products to scale up
Small entrepreneurial businesses have been started by the Urban Micro Business Centre (UMBC) and Gram Tarang. These include a bakery, coffee roasting, garment production, flavour essences, banking services and employability training. There is room for the creation of new enterprises and the existing businesses require scaling up. Business plans, marketing strategies and product design applied to current skills or forecasting skill requirements can all help to improve UMBC and Gram Tarang operations.
5. Improve nutrition practices to address malnourishment in India
Indigenous peoples had a traditional diet based on millets and seasonal fruits and roots. This dietary practice has systematically been eroded with the advent of rice, which is now the major diet (this trend is also encouraged by government subsidies on rice). While these millets are still grown in small quantities, they have become the health foods of upwardly mobile urban population. It would be a challenge to go back to the communities with the benefits of these traditional foods as the best source of nutrition to combat the high levels of malnourishment in remote communities. Students will work on strategies and promotional materials to change attitudes towards better nutrition practices.
6. Shift traditional practices or beliefs where these are preventing health solutions
(This challenge is located at xxxxx , a separate location from challenges 1 - 5.)
Declining sex ratio is a major problem in rural Odisha and this is primarily because of son preference and sex selection testing centres and abortion clinics. Early marriage of girls leads to a vicious cycle of early pregnancies and multiple pregnancies at short intervals, with high rates of maternal deaths. Practices such as branding of young children with hot irons to scare away evil spirits to combat illnesses have to be countered in order for women and children to benefit from health solutions. Centurion University works in association with the Public Health Foundation of India
Whichever challenge you choose to help solve, you will be located in the fascinating state of Odisha in eastern India. Its key towns of Bhubaneswar and Puri are important pilgrimage centres for Hindus. It is a region with a very large tribal or indigenous population and Centurion University’s Paralakhemundi campus is situated deep in a tribal area making your visit very different to many Indian experiences.
As a past student noted, “…Centurion has so many connections with the community…we got to really engage with areas of the community that you wouldn’t be able to access if you were just a backpacker or by yourself…”.
In addition to your studies and project work, you will explore the Khandagiri caves, the UNESCO Heritage-listed Konark Sun-Temple, a Tibetan refugee community and monastery. Bhubaneswar is also home to one of India’s pre-eminent zoos and botanical gardens where you can view exotic animals including the famous white tiger. You can enjoy nearby Puri beach and the fascinating Balasore region, home to some of India’s leading artisans.
Working hours: approx. 120 hrs
Location: Odisha, India (nearest airport Bhubaneswar)
Project Duration: 24 days
Support: 24/7 in country support provided by Centurion University. On-site security officer available for after-hours support, dedicated hosts to assist at all other times
Dates: TBC (Format:November 18th - December 9th 2018)