It helps the Underprivileged to ‘Open the door for a better future’. The tagline used to describe the work profile of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), executive wing of the Skill India Mission, presents a glimpse of the bigger picture in a short crisp phrase. The word underprivileged, however, fails to capture the vast range of people the NSDC addresses, and the diversity of issues it is prepared to tackle to cater to the requirements of all. It has, in fact, set up sector-specific teams of experts, the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), that are led by NSDC’s industry partners. These bodies are responsible for defining the skilling needs, the concept, processes, and certification methods of their respective industry sectors.
The day to day interactions of NSDC are more or less restricted to meeting and organising training programmes for students, of a specified age group and financial strata. But its role is not limited to that alone. NSDC is also engaged in creating and executing modules for domestic staff, incarcerated under trials and surrendered extremists.
The repertoire of roles played is colourful and vastly varied. And the connotation of the term underprivileged used here includes social, political as well as financial deprivation.
Here are some significant samples of NSDC’s work.
On home ground
“Domestic workers or help is a value-loaded term and often has negative connotations,”says Manish Kumar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, NSDC .The proposal is understood to have been mooted by Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, at a recent meeting.
Kumar said NSDC has now asked its in-house experts to look at suitable alternatives that would improve the “image and respectability” of such workers. It has also created six job rolls or modules, including housekeeping, cooking and housekeeping, child care, elderly care, pre-natal and post-natal care and baby care to train domestic workers.
Amod Kanth, Chairperson of Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council, informs, “We plan to train about 25 lakh domestic workers in the next six to seven years. Simultaneously, a National Policy on Domestic Workers is being finalised, while States are also taking initiatives to improve the working conditions,” Kanth said, adding that Jharkhand has recently passed the Placement Agency and Domestic Workers Protection Act. Similar laws are also in force in Chhattisgarh.
If the example above reflects the commitment of the NSDC staff to create a more inclusive, less rigid environment, the next case study establishes its willingness to explore unchartered territories.
Mainstreaming in Manipur
The idea of training surrendered militants germinated while a meeting between the NSDC and the Home Department of Manipur was in session. The state, ravaged by terrorist activities, has a large population of citizens who were once a part of the many militant groups operating there.But they have now made peace with the system and signed the Suspension of Operations (SOO) pact with the state government. They are ready to enter the mainstream, earn a livelihood, and ensure a normal life for their families and children.
The government began the process of integration with a meeting. It was a dialogue among all the key players: the surrendered militant leaders, police intelligence and army intelligence officials and members of the state department. Then the actual procedures began. An Aadhar camp was organised for the surrendered militants. While 400 ex militants were invited, about 60 responded to the call. The rest were still haunted by a sense of insecurity and were unwilling to enter the official data system.
These 60 were then invited to a designated rehabilitation camp for counselling and to choosing the trade they were keen to take up.. Since most of the participants wanted to stay close home, they were trained to be Distribution Linesmen. Since the Manipur State Power Distribution Corporation Ltd (MSPDCL) requires skilled manpower across the state, the strategy was to ensure that there was a demand for the trainees once they entered the job market. So the first batch of 20 hopefuls underwent a session of intense power training conducted by the power sector skill council.
The entire process was tough and a physically challenging one. Since the camp was held in a remote rural region, the candidates found it difficult to commute, and were unhappy about the travel allowance provided.The government took a quick decision in response to the complaints. The training was shifted to the capital city of Imphal and held in government premises, by NSDC and the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Govt. of India. The team organising and executing the training on the ground was JCRE Skill Solutions, a leading Vocational Training Provider (VTP) in Manipur registered under Skill India Mission.
The effort put in was not in vain. 15 candidates, once members of militant factions,completed the training and were assessed and certified. Then a Kaushal and Job Mela, the largest ever, was orgnised in Manipur. The event as graced by the presence of Hon'ble Governor of Manipur, Smt. Najma Heptulla and Hon'ble Chief, Shri Okram Ibobi Singh. Certificates of Distribution Linesmen w ere distributed to the successful trainees.
However, the interaction between the government and trainees had not ended there. As expected the job market wore a forbidding look, as the employers found it difficult to ignore the past records of the candidates. The government stepped in yet again.The Chief Minister issued a statement declaring that that he had job offers for the 15 successful trainees.
“The first batch is critically important. The career of these trainees can be used as examples of successful re-habilitation of surrendered militants. They might inspire others to lay down their weapons and give the‘mainstream’ a chance.”, Niranjan Shah, Director, JCRE.