The story of Virmani Trust is one of the many enlightening examples in ‘India: Land of a billion entrepreneurs’ by Upendra Kachru ( Anil Virmani manages the institution which runs adult literacy programmes with the help of TCS. “By the juxtaposition of text, sound and picture on a computer monitor, we are able to teach illiterate women and children to read and write Hindi fluently in 45 hours. It might surprise you to know that it costs only Rs 500 per person,” is a snatch of Anil-speak, cited in the book. The trust also trains women in trades such as tailoring and embroidery so that they can be economically self-sufficient, informs Kachru.

Another example in the book is about Richa Pandey’s eJeevika, a venture incubated by the Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI) at IIT-Madras. “It subjects candidates to psychometric tests to determine which field they would fit in best. It then trains them accordingly and helps them become self-sufficient,” explains Kachru. ‘Jeevika’ has been derived from a Sanskrit word called ‘Aajeevika’ which means ‘livelihood,’ narrates “The ‘e’ in the name stands for learning through using internet communication technology (computers, mobile etc). Thus ‘eJeevika’ denotes learning through computers and earning a livelihood.”

To those who doubt the efficacy of training villagers and illiterates, there are clear answers in ‘The Kakinada experiment,’ elaborately discussed in this book. The experiment, carried out in the early 1960s under David McClelland’s guidance and with the help of the National Institute for Small Industries Extension Training, was a groundbreaking effort in the field of entrepreneurship research and training in India, the author observes. “McClelland trained people in two towns (Kakinada and Vellore) and compared their economic growth to a control town (Rajahmundry)… McClelland used this experiment to show that a ‘non-entrepreneur’ could also be achievement-oriented, persistent and creative…”

An imperative read.