Skill development has emerged as a key strategy to realize the potential of demographic advantage of having the youngest workforce with an average age of 29 years in comparison with the advanced economies to create human resource for improving country’s competitiveness and growth.
Mechanisms to address distress migration and poverty.
The issue of distress migration despite government run MNREGS programme is of grave concern. There are many bottlenecks in the programme and campaigns to make it more robust and functional is one of the solutions. The other, Shikhar Yuva Manch realised and believed lies in creating a supplementary structure to the agriculture which will lift the pressure from agriculture.
Shikhar Yuva Manch has had a two-pronged strategy: one was to mobilise the women into groups, train them, help them with bank linkages, and handhold them for marketing of their produce. The other was to train the youth in emerging employment opportunities within the village or the nearest town.
Women Entrepreneurship Development
Shikhar Yuva Manch did not start a new SHG of women where there was already one in the village, even if it was dormant since being started by any agency. Of course, the women were apprehensive of restarting the group due to previous experiences and the promises that were made by some NGOs. It was quite difficult to reinvigorate such SHGs than starting a new one. But Shikhar Yuva Manch workers relentlessly followed with the women and as they had seen the benefits of other activities all around them the group members were motivated enough to go ahead.
SHG Women Enterprises
Mushroom Cultivation & Marketing
Local Breed Poultry Farming
Agarbatti Making & Selling
Leaf Plate Making
Mini Rice Mill
As can be seen from the above, women SHGs preferred mushroom cultivation and marketing as it could be done from the spare time they had. On an average, a woman spends not more than one hour per day in mushroom cultivation. The women also prefers close relatives and immediate neighbours as groups members while starting the enterprise as they can take turns to attend to the enterprise activities where only one person is required. The other preferred enterprise is Local Hen Breeding, and Goat Rearing. There was this interesting story from Indrapaani in Bodla block in Kabirdham district:
The Baiga women were initially did not intend to start a group. A few years back they had started a group and collected money but the woman who facilitated the process did not tell the group members about any activities and also they were not informed whenever the money transactions were taking place. So after a while the women from the village lost interest, and whenever any attempt was made by any other agency or person to start the group, the women opposed vehemently.
But this time, the local youth supported by Ayodhya Prasad had built a relationship with the village over children’s activities, successful advocacy for the start of a new AWC, etc., and the women saw the dedication and commitment of the people like Ayodhya Prasad. So they gave in and the group restarted.
The group brought a single hen from the adjoining village, when the hen started laying eggs, they did not eat or sell the eggs. Instead they hatched the eggs and fifteen chicks were distributed among the members to look after and multiply the local hen breed. The group do not intend to sell any hens or eggs for a while as they want to multiply the number scale it up.
The group enterprise also gives time for the women to meet regularly, discuss their health issues, and help each other. The add-on income through the enterprise has been very tall figure but the women are condent that it will increase over time.
Rural Youth Skill Development
Young men and women are restless, and agriculture and add-on enterprises alone do not satisfy all the members’ needs for employment. The result is, the young men and women migrate to towns and cities for odd unskilled and low paying jobs, stay in makeshift shelters, and suffer from predatory and health hazards.
Shikhar Yuva Manch identified around seven-eight trades where the rural youth could be skilled and self employed. All of these are in great demand, like masonry and electrician in the construction sector, motor binding in the irrigation and water lifting, and mobile repairing is the most emerging employment avenue due to mobile and internet penetration.
The majority of these trained youths have started working and earning their livelihood. Previously where they worked as unskilled labour in the construction market, they are now being paid for skilled masons. The other important aspect is, previously the only other skilled option to the young men was a driver on a tractor, the new arenas are more enticing.
Achievements of 2017-18
Tailoring for Women and Adolescent Girls
Mobile Repairing & Electricity
Motor Driving Training
Beauty Parlour Training
Motor Binding Training