Bundu, Jharkhand: While millions of degree holders struggle for employment in India, Dayanidhi Pradhan, 23, a Class 8 dropout in Jharkhand, dreams of an overseas job.
And achieving that aspiration is a real possibility — thanks to a multi-trade skill development institute that has placed hundreds of tribal youths in foreign countries.
Ms Pradhan and over 100 others are currently enrolled for short-term skill training in various trades like electric fitting, plumbing, AC ductman and pipe fitting at the Kalyan Gurukul, housed in a sprawling green campus in this town, some 40 km from Ranchi.
“Gurukul in Bundu has a history of placing almost all of its students abroad,” Ms Pradhan told IANS, remembering how his peers — Boodhu Munda, Gopal Munda and Shahnawaz Bhai, who were also skilled at the institute — are now working in the Gulf.
Most of the tribal youth working in the Gulf had not even visited Ranchi, the state capital, he said.
Kalyan Gurukul is run by PanIIT Alumni Reach for India Foundation (PARFI), sponsored by the state government and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) of the government of India.
The institute began operations in October 2013 with a batch of 19 with the aim of training tribal youth as well as those from other economically-backward sections of society who had dropped out of schools. The government has opened 10 similar training centres across the state.
All these institutes — that are much like ITIs — are called “Gurukul”, replicating not only the name but also a strict regime of discipline and time management of ancient Indian schools.
Teachers and students live on the campus which also has a huge vegetable garden maintained by trainees.
Every morning starts with yoga, meditation, prayers and a healthy breakfast before classes begin.
The Bundu centre is headed by ex-servicemen Pramod Kumar Pandey, who said “patriotic values” coupled with life skills, including financial and credit literacy, are part of the training programme.
“Students enrolled in Gurukul have to pay a basic fee of Rs 18,000 provided through a loan financing scheme with NABARD. Repayment starts once the student gets a placement,” Mr Pandey told IANS.
Many of Gurukul students now work in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, he said.
“We hone skills of the students according to the contemporary needs of the market. Since inception, we have placed around 276 students in Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka. The latest batch of around 104 students have also been selected by recruiters and are waiting to go to various Gulf countries.”
Gangadhar Munda’s brother Boodhu Munda — a Gurukul alumnus — works in Dubai.
The tribesman from Hesu said the “entire village”, in Hesu hills, was proud of his brother who went abroad “and secured a good future despite belonging to a poor family and being a school dropout”.
“Boodhu went to Dubai around seven months ago. He sends us money every month. Our financial status is getting better now and we are be able to educate other children in the family,” Mr Gangadhar told IANS.
“We are getting good marriage proposals for Boodhu,” he quipped.
Tarun Shukla, an IIT alumnus and a member of PARFI, said the first Gurukul was opened at Gumla in Jharkhand in 2010 to involve unemployed youth, who were potential recruits for Maoists.
“The infrastructure and other support for Gurukul are given by the government while its operation and maintenance are done through PARFI. We have a tie-up with business conglomerate Shapoorji Pallonji Group to place students in the Gulf countries,” Mr Shukla told IANS.
He said more focus was now being given on skill development with the help of a separate Ministry for Skill Development and NSDC.
“NSDC plays a significant role in the functioning of Gurukul as it standardises the course curriculum. Secondly, with NSDC, one can now find employers, trainers, content developers and job-seekers on one platform,” he said.
Jharkhand Chief Secretary Rajbala Verma said the Gurukul model was providing the platform of better employability for under-privileged and under-educated youth of the state.
“In the next two years, we are planning to expand these Gurukul centres in all the 24 Jharkhand districts with a training capacity of 10,000 youth,” Ms Verma told IANS.
She said generating employment was a huge priority of the state government.
“Labour-intensive industries like food processing, leather and textiles are our main focus; we will use the Jharkhand Skill Development Mission and Gurukul model to create youth who are pre-trained before employment,” she said.