Disabled candidates attend the training session at the Adityapur vocational hub on Wednesday. (Animesh Sengupta)
The frail look of Chanda Kumari (20), a resident of Itkhori in Chatra who suffers from ptosis (drooping upper eyelids) and the only daughter of potter Kameshwar Prajapati, belies her ability to overcome her weakness with an impressive grasp of MS Office. She cannot look at the computer screen for long, but it has never stood in the way of learning. She was forced to drop out after intermediate in arts in 2009, as her father’s meagre earning (Rs 1,500-2,000 per month) was unable to support her studies along with her younger brother’s schooling
Like Chanda, most of her 48 batchmates, including 12 girls, had similar tales of adversity due to disability and financial constraints.
However, an initiative of the district administration of Chatra, a Maoist hotbed, to enrol them in a prestigious central government technical institute — Indo-Danish Tool Room (IDTR) in Adityapur — has infused a sense of belief in them to rewrite their destiny.
The six-month office management, secretarial practice and hardware, networking course for the disabled — the first special batch of physically challenged to undergo training in any institution across the state — is funded by the Centre’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for left-wing extremism (LWE) affected districts.
Chatra DC Manoj Kumar told The Telegraph the pitiable condition of a youth who had approached him in June for job was the genesis of the special course.
“The sight of the youth, whose legs were disproportionately short, holding his bachelor’s degree and crawling to enter my office looking for a job disturbed me very much. I advised the youth to avail of a short-term motor driving course but he said that it was not possible, as his legs could not reach the brakes. He was more comfortable in computer training. This led me to approach IDTR and this is how the programme was conceptualised,” said the DC.
The administration also had the failure of the motor driving training in mind before starting the IDTR schedule for the disabled.
“Most of the disabled left the motor driving training due to some reason or the other. Perhaps we had hurried a bit without understanding their requirements. Before the IDTR course, we held a 15-day counselling session for the aspirants and their parents conducted by a disabled functionary of an outfit for the physically challenged. We regularly visit IDTR and so far, the 49 students have all given positive feedback, making the programme a success,” said Kumar.
The six-month course that includes free boarding, food, health check-up and monthly stipend of Rs 350 for each of the aspirants is borne under IAP funds.
Shailendra Kumar, placement officer of IDTR, said after completing the course, the aspirants could apply for data entry operators and initially earn Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 in toll counters, retail outlets, pharmacies and corporate offices.
“We are also providing them hardware and networking inputs so that they can also start their own small units,” said IDTR official.
IDTR will also provide placement assistance.