|Arjun Munda at the January launch of the cradle
Ranchi, June 16: Give youths a choice and they will choose a can-do attitude over can bombs. Just ask any of the 100-plus youths from rebel turf Gumla who have landed specialised construction jobs in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
They are students of Gumla Gurukul, a skill-based cradle inaugurated by chief minister Arjun Munda in January. The residential Gurukul, conceived by Pan-IIT Alumni Reach For India (PARFI), an association of former IITians, and implemented jointly by the district administration, aims to make rural dropouts in rebel-hit areas employable.
PARFI, across India, focuses on districts under the Centre’s Integrated Action Project (IAP) which entitles them to special grants for development projects. In Jharkhand, Gumla is one of the 17 districts out of 24 to have the IAP tag.
Now, about 100 youths from the first two batches are employed by construction major Shapoorji Pallonji to erect the cutting-edge chrome-and-glass Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) building in Odisha’s capital. Employed as masons, carpenters and bar benders, they earn around Rs 7,000 a month.
Going by the tangible placement record alone, Gumla Gurukul — the first in the state — is a success. The intangibles are priceless. A trained Gumla youth, who can earn a good living anywhere, won’t be rebel fodder. Though he may be a school dropout, he will push for the education of his siblings.
Most important, he will discover a life without fear.
Those involved in the project such as former IITians and Gumla deputy commissioner Rahul Sharma have reason to celebrate. Everyone, from state home secretary J.B. Tubid to the Planning Commission, is praising it.
Each IAP district gets Rs 55 crore for two fiscal years (2011-12, 2012-13). For Gumla, which has spent Rs 30 lakh from its IAP funds on the Gurukul for equipment and infrastructure, it is money well spent.
“Though the bulk of the placements has been in Odisha for the TCS campus, a few are engaged with the construction company’s projects in Andhra Pradesh,” the Gumla DC told The Telegraph. “It is heartening that our boys from rebel pockets Chainpur, Bishunpur, Dumri and the like can find jobs anywhere.”
IIT alumnus and PARFI chief sevak Shahnawaz Ali was happy about the “awesome” response of the first two batches. “Buoyed by Gumla’s success, we are planning to come up with Gurukul in Jamshedpur (East Singhbhum), near Chaibasa (West Singhbhum), among others. I will visit Ranchi and Gumla to meet state and district officials for our next course of action,” he told The Telegraph from New Delhi.
Trainees pay Rs 6,500 for the course. “We insist on it as it gives value to the skill. People don’t respect what comes for free,” said Ali.