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Editorial Articles

Issue no 37, 10-16 December 2022


Passage to Prosperity Transforming Tribal Lives with Skills

Jyoti S. Verma

Giving a boost to Skill India Mission, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship's Grameen Udyami Project not only promotes skill development and entrepreneurship among tribal youth to make them self-reliant within their respective geographies, but also drives economic prosperity in tribal regions and reverses migration. An important message from Mahatma Gandhi to India was inspired by his observations of the non-White people of South Africa, where he spent 21 years. His interaction with the Zulu people exposed him to the exploitation of the tribal people by the colonial rulers. Gandhiji had worked with the native communities of Africa and was influenced by their self-reliance. These people were often educated in the mission schools and valued self-help, personal advancement, and the advantages of education. Several of them even went abroad for higher education. In India too, Gandhiji took the concept of village Swaraj and Khadi inspired by the self dependent tribals. Many of his ideas are about the principles of governance, public service and policy making, which can be useful to resolve the challenges faced by the tribal community. He advocated that tribals should be involved in their development and participate in their process of development, wherein the social and cultural aspects should never be undervalued. When there are no avenues for tribals in their local areas, the tribals are forced to migrate from remote villages to districts, towns, and cities in search of food, livelihood, education, and other resources. According to the 2001 census, 29.70% of tribal people migrated from their native places to other cities, temporarily or on a permanent basis. The limited options available to tribal people in their areas are also confined to agriculture. According to Census 2011, over two-thirds of the tribal population in the country is working in the primary sector (as against 43% of the non-tribal population) and is heavily dependent on agriculture either as cultivators or as agricultural labourers. Unfortunately, there was a shift from being cultivators to agricultural labourers. Between 2001 and 2011 census reports, the number of tribal cultivators reduced by 10% while the number of agricultural labourers increased by 9%. Often engaging in manual labour in an informal economy in over-crowded cities without formal guarantees and social protection merely shifts rural poverty to an urban setting, adding to the woes. A solution to all the said problems was piloted in May this year when the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched the Grameen Udyami Project (Rural Tribal Technical Training Programme). The programme aims at multiskilling tribal youth and imparting functional skills to them for enabling livelihoods. The long-term objective of the programme is to augment the inclusive and sustainable growth of tribal communities and drive economic prosperity in tribal regions

A National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) funded initiative, Grameen Udyami seeks to give a boost to the Skill India Mission and strengthen sustainable livelihood for tribal populations. It is currently being implemented in six states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat. The pilot project, under the Sansadiya Sankul Pariyojana, was launched on 13th May 2022 for training approximately 250 beneficiaries of 17 clusters of 17 districts selected from six states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Odisha. In the first phase of training, candidates were mobilised from rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Transportation, boarding and lodging were provided to the candidates so that they do not miss out the learning opportunity due to lack of resources. Training of 157 candidates started in seven batches in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, in May 2022, and about 133 candidates completed the training on 27th June, 2022. The second phase of the pilot project was launched in Ranchi in August 2022 to train 450 tribal students in Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. It is being implemented by Yuva Vikas Society, through Seva Bharti Kendra. NSDC under the aegis of MSDE has supported in setting up of laboratories and classrooms through Sector Skill Councils in Seva Bharti Kendra Skill Development Centre. Under the programme, skill training was provided in five disciplines of electrical and solar energy, agricultural mechanization, e-governance, plumbing and masonry, two-wheeler repair and maintenance. In October 2022, the MSDE felicitated 165 students at a ceremony under the second phase of Grameen Udyami project.

Unexplored opportunities

There is a massive economic opportunity for India in building a skilled and trained manpower to exploit its demographic dividend. An important component of this opportunity is rural youth, who make about 68 percent of India's total population. This population does not have access to vocational training. In the absence of skills, most of the literate rural youth end up working as unskilled migrant workers in the nearest towns and cities turning away from local farming, which is considered unprofitable and way too arduous. There is a massive economic opportunity for India in building a skilled and trained manpower to exploit its demographic dividend. An important component of this opportunity is rural youth, who make about 68 percent of India's total population. This population does not have access to vocational training. In the absence of skills, most of the literate rural youth end up working as unskilled migrant workers in the nearest towns and cities turning away from local farming, which is considered unprofitable and way too arduous

Led by tribal welfare

Grameen Udyami Yojana is implemented under Sansadiya Parisankul Yojana. Under the programme, 49 Scheduled Tribe (ST) clusters in 15 states of India have been selected by 40 tribal Members of Parliament (MPs). The scheme is being implemented in respective clusters. One development associate is appointed by the MPs in each cluster. An important objective of the programme is to create new opportunities for employment or self-employment and entrepreneurship locally, so that tribal youth can start their own businesses, generating more livelihood opportunities for themselves as well as for others. For this purpose, each district magistrate and collector has been asked to draw up a Skill Development Plan for their district keeping in mind the resources available and the local aspirations. With skills, organised sectors too will see better participation of tribal populations, which is not the case right now. These sectors have a low contribution in tribal livelihood as compared to the national average. During the first leg of Gramin Udyami, 152 candidates were enrolled, of which 132 successfully completed the course and were given certificates. The second leg was held in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, where 165 candidates were given the certificates. The next phase is focused on women’s groups, and will begin in Gumla, Jharkhand, for which 153 women have already enrolled. Interestingly, women make up a substantial percentage of the population making the rural-tourban shift. According to the 2011 census, of the 78 million rural migrants, 55 percent were females. They outnumbered males in 554 of the 640 districts due to marriage or other reasons. It is believed that capacity-building and skill training of women, mainly through the self-help group movement, can lead to many women entrepreneurs and income generation opportunities. Their empowerment can lead to better living standards for their families and eventually to their communities.

Part of a big mission: The Government has adopted a multi-pronged strategy for the overall development of tribal youth living across the country. Skill training is an important component of this strategy. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been implementing Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) Scheme and National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) for providing short-term Skill Development training and Craftsman Training Scheme (CTS) through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) for long-term training. The schemes are for all sections of youth, including tribal communities. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), the nodal Ministry for overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) all over the country, also provides funding support under the Scheme of Special Central Assistance to Tribal SubScheme (SCA to TSS) for vocational training in tribal areas. This scheme aims at upgrading the skills of the tribal youth in various traditional or modern vocations depending on their educational qualification, present economic trends, and the market potential to enable them to gain sustainable employment or become selfdependent. As the schemes of the MSDE are demand-driven, the targets are often not set. However, all the said schemes have the mandatory provision of utilisation of funds for tribals through Scheduled Tribe component. All the schemes are ongoing and are delivering skills across the country

Skilled at home, for the world: Skilling has become more important in the Post COVID - New World Order, where the mantra to stay relevant in the competing market is to reskill and upskill for anyone, anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruptions in traditional supply chains of electronics and digital products across the world, with countries looking for a trusted partner to support these chains. "As the world now looks towards India, we need to skill our youth to emerge as a Global Skills Hub," said Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar while speaking at the session License to Skill at the India Global Forum UAE in Dubai last year. The Minister shared that skilling is a network that is extraordinarily built across India. The country has 14,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), almost 10,000 to 12,000 training centres and 700 Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs). Between 2015 and 2020, India has skilled over 3.4 crore people of which almost 1.4 crore were completely free skilling provided by the government using the same network. More than 4,000 programmes are being offered to the youth through this network. "One of the things you will see India doing very significantly in the coming months and years is to take skills on a digital platform and in multiple languages, extending its reach into areas where we did not have a physical centre," the Union Minister added. The MSDE has built up an extensive network of ITIs, JSSs, PMKKs, PMKVY, apprenticeships and is transforming the lives of youth through more than 4,500 skilling programmes being offered by it. Extensive training with multiple skills will be extended to 50,000 to one lakh students in 50 tribal districts in the coming years, the Minister said in another official statement. In addition to Grameen Udyami, the Government of India is also pushing its other initiatives for skill development such as Pre-Departure Orientation Training, Higher Education and School Initiative, India's International Skill Centres (IISCs), Capacity Building Scheme, PMKKs, Rojgar Mela and PMKVY. At the virtual Global Skills Summit organised recently, the Centre shared its plans to formulate a policy to make India the skill supply hub for global value chains. The summit deliberated on skill harmonisation and benchmarking of qualifications, quality standardisation, capacity building, knowledge exchange to promote global mobility, employability, and readiness for the youth to join the global workforce. The demographic dividend has given India a competitive advantage, as almost 54% of India's population is above 25 years, presenting a good opportunity to provide overseas employment opportunities to the Indian youth in countries facing acute and ever-growing shortage of workforce. The MSDE said that the mapping of global skill-set requirements will be undertaken to identify the skilled man-power needs of various nations for global skill mobility. The initiative will help in providing employment opportunities to the youth of India in the coming years

The writer is a senior journalist based in New Delhi and can be reached at jyotisverma2912@gmail.com Views expressed are personal.