The Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) today, organised the AWPO Summit 2024 in Manekshaw Centre, New Delhi. The Summit witnessed convergence of notable personalities from various sectors to include veteran entrepreneurs, veterans leading in the field of businesses and industry, corporate entities, representatives from government and social sector.

The aim of the Summit was to bring together different stakeholders on a common platform, to bridge the gap between requirements of enterprise and core competencies possessed by the veterans. While the demand for a skilled and experienced workforce exists at the industry end, a disciplined human resource pool of veterans with adequate experience and unique skill sets exit from active service each year. Such a resource pool provides an opportunity to the industry to absorb this workforce. The Summit was an endeavour to synergise the two converging requirements. The AWPO Summit assisted in strengthening the linkages of the veteran community with the industry, PSUs and Quasi Government organisations. The presence of Corporate Heads, representatives of Industry, Start Ups, Ministry and Government Officials in the Summit, underscored this facet.

General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), in his remarks, emphasised the invaluable contributions of veterans to the nation’s prosperity and reiterated the commitment of the Indian Army to facilitate their integration into various sectors. He said that veterans bring with them, a unique set of qualities and experiences that can be harnessed by the industry. He acknowledged the opportunities provided by several corporate houses and enterprises to veterans and added that veterans bring with them a unique set of qualities and experiences. The COAS mentioned that services to the nation by the veterans do not end when they bid farewell to military life, instead it transitions into a new chapter or second innings of dedication and commitment to the society and nation building. He urged all to recognize the potential of the words – ‘भूतपूर्व सैनिक, अभूतपूर्व योगदान’.

The COAS underscored that Indian Army has undertaken the process of holistic skill certification, as per the core competency of each individual, in collaborative efforts with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. He also mentioned that initiatives such as Project KAUSHALVEER help serving personnel in acquiring certification for skill sets as per established industry standards thereby meeting the requirements of both stakeholders. He mentioned that the veterans, with diverse knowledge, experience, managerial acumen and adaptability can contribute in fields such as entrepreneurship, HR consultancy, mentorship, education, crisis management, infrastructure development, healthcare etc.

The COAS further highlighted that Veer Naris also bring with them unparalleled determination and resilience and urged the entrepreneurs to integrate them as part of their initiatives on human capital intake, from the ‘uniformed community’. He emphasised that the Veer Naris also possess vocational skills, entrepreneurship acumen and aptitudes in many professional domains.

This Summit was an endeavour in Indian Army’s pursuit to evolve an institutionalised support eco-system for the veterans. Insightful perspectives were put forth by panelists from different fields on the entire landscape of avenues, potential, challenges and initiatives with respect to absorption of veterans into new roles. Veterans who have established themselves into a successful second career, also shared their experiences and success stories. The subjects were discussed across three main themes, aimed at fostering synergy between veterans and various sectors with an important role in nation building.

Theme 1: Harnessing Veterans’ Potential & Experience. The panel for Theme 1 included distinguished Veteran Entrepreneurs such as Major V P Sharma (Retired) from Gratitude Farms, Colonel Subhash Deswal (Retired), the Carrot King of India, Naik Shivaji Dole (Retired), who took initiative to revive Venkateshwara Co-operative which practices agro farming, organic farming and water conservation, and Naik Daljinder Singh (Retired), an entrepreneur and established businessman. The discussion was moderated by Major General Ajay Singh Chauhan, Managing Director, AWPO and Brigadier Vikas Bhardwaj from the Directorate of Indian Army Veterans. The session focussed on veterans’ potential as entrepreneurs, success stories of achievers and the way ahead. The panelists delved into their inspiring journeys, challenges faced, and the roadmap ahead. Key points discussed were the unexplored potential of veterans in innovative sectors and strategic entrepreneurship that align with national growth imperatives.

Theme 2: Skills Required to Meet Public and Private Sector Needs. Addressing the need for skilled workforce integration, the session highlighted the significance of the Skilling & Training Ecosystem. The panel for the theme included Colonel Sunil Prem (Retired) from Brisk Olive, Lieutenant Colonel Iqbal Singh (Retired) from Google India and Major Md Ali Shah (Retired). The discussion was moderated by Major General Deepak Sapra (Retired). The session focussed on skills needed in corporate/ industry and strengthening capabilities for veterans in the emerging industrial landscape. The panelists explored avenues, challenges, and strategies to effectively harness the unique skills and experiences veterans bring to the table. They underscored the essential role veterans play in bridging the skills gap in both public and private sectors and deliberated on the road map to explore the veterans’ potential.

Theme 3: Unveiling Opportunities for Veterans in India’s Growth Story. This session explored the diverse skill sets of veterans, widows, and dependents, showcasing their potential in emerging sectors of both the public and private sectors. The panel for the theme included Major General Rajesh Jha (Retired), Director NEEPCO, Colonel RS Bhatia (Retired), Chairman & MD Bharat Forge Ltd, Mr Gurdeep Singh, CMD of NTPC and Ms Anuradha Prasad, Founder & CEO of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS). The session was moderated by Major General Ajay Singh Chauhan (Retired), MD, AWPO. The discussions centred around strategies to enhance veterans’ potential and opportunities in the social sector. This comprehensive dialogue addressed the multifaceted contributions and tremendous capacities of veterans in furthering India’s social and economic frameworks.

The Summit has been a catalyst for dialogue, collaboration and inspiration, spotlighting vital role of veterans in India’s progress. It is crucial for all industries to recognise and utilise unique strengths and skill sets of the veterans by having matching policies for their smooth transition into civilian roles. The nation’s growth hinges on nurturing the veterans, whose ongoing contributions are essential for sustained progress and collective wellbeing. Assimilation of skilled and disciplined resource pool of veterans into industry and services sectors will be a win- win situation for both and a game changing venture.

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