Skills attain sheen of medals

Bengal boys put India on podium at Abu Dhabi

By DEBRAJ MITRA in Calcutta
  • Published 27.10.17

Calcutta: Bengal boys Rohim Momin and Asraf Jamal, one a mason and the other a jewellery craftsman, have won medallions of excellence at WorldSkills 2017 and helped India finish with its best-ever performance in this biennial global contest of vocational aptitude.

Asraf, forced by poverty to leave home at 10 and work in Bangalore, finished seventh in a field of 17 contestants in Abu Dhabi. Their challenge was to craft a piece of jewellery to exact specifications.

The 18-year-old from Hooghly made a gold pendant whose top half resembled the alphabet "A". The bottom half was shaped like an inverted dome with a pointed tail. "The pendant was supposed to be 60mm in length and I faltered by a few millimetres. There is almost zero margin for error in such competitions," said Asraf, who had trained at GBD Studios in Indore under master designer Parag Vyas.

Rohim, a 21-year-old mason from Malda who has been his family's breadwinner and sisters' guardian since they were orphaned in childhood, won his medallion of excellence for being sixth among 30 contestants in his category.

His task was to build brick-and-mortar walls in three designs. One wall resembled a mantelpiece and hearth, another looked like a gable-end and the third was modelled on the Golden Falcon, the state emblem of the UAE. Each of the structures was 1.2 to 1.5m high.

"I had started well but slipped in the final stage, especially while making the Falcon," said Rohim, who had trained at a Pune workshop run by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India.

But for the slip, he was in contention for a top-three slot. The 28-member Indian contingent won a silver in patisserie, a bronze in prototype modelling and nine medallions of excellence. All medal winners are eligible for cash prizes from the government. "But their biggest asset is the experience they have gained. Top companies will be more than eager to hire such skilled workers," said Jayant Krishna, executive director of the NSDC.

The 44th edition of WorldSkills was held from October 14 to 19 and had more than 59 countries competing.