NEW DELHI: A clutch of companies are looking to join hands with the Union rural development ministry to launch a training and placement programmes for the poor.
Funds for this programme will be earmarked as special projects and included under the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), a rural self-employment programme, administered by the ministry. The government proposes to hike the budget for SGSY by 50% to Rs1,800 crore in the next fiscal to expand the scope of the programme.
While industry is getting increasingly strapped for want of adequate number of personnel, the Centre has been struggling to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared more widely among the country’s populace—with special emphasis on the nearly third of Indians who live below the poverty line.
So far, Bharti Comtel Ltd, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Co (IL&FS) and Tata International have submitted proposals to the government and are likely to get approved by the end of next month. This is to be dovetailed into the rural development budget, where the government will provide 75% funding for all such initiatives.
A Rs 364 crore proposal from IL&FS envisages training and placement of 500,000 youth at 100 training centres across India for the textile sector. The company has asked the government to contribute 69% of the project cost.
Likewise, Bharti Comtel has forwarded a Rs14.75-crore proposal, dubbed Saksham, for training and placement of youth in the telecommunications sector. They have suggested launching the project in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Rajasthan and Punjab in the first phase.
Chennai-based trading company Tata International has also submitted a proposal to train village women in Tamil Nadu’s Kancheepuram district for placement in the leather product and footwear industry. This project will be implemented by the Council for Leather Export.
According to R. Radhakrishna, director of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, “Involving the private sector is a positive trend, but there should be a regulatory framework in which they operate. One must remember that corporations always look for profit.”
In his capacity as chairman of the working committee of poverty elimination, he added that, “There is such a huge mass of unemployed youth, that a programme like this cannot make a great dent. We need to create a huge umbrella of organizations at the state level to eliminate poverty.”
Said rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said this year the thrust was on skill development and placement of poor people in sectors where there was an acute dearth of skilled personnel.
The minister is inspired by the success of a Rs14 crore pilot project—Grameen Labs Programme (GLP)—launched by Dr. Reddy’s Foundation in collaboration with the government, in 2005. The project, first ever in the public-private programme for skill development, has trained and provided placement to 15,000 poor youth from Jammu and Kashmir, UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Jharkhand. Most of them have been placed in the information technology, customer relations and health sectors.
The ministry has asked Dr Reddy’s to scale up the project nearly five-fold, sanctioning them Rs62.2 crore for a two-year project to train 1.25 lakh people. The company works with state governments and District Rural Development Agencies which identify the beneficiaries. Training is provided in the district itself, at an average cost of Rs5,000 per person.
Minu Abraham, strategic team leader of the GLP, said they were planning to open five zonal offices—in Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bhopal and Chennai. The key sectors they plan to target are rural retail, micro-irrigation, tractor mechanics and food retail.