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Skill Development & Capacity Building

By Pratibha Sinha, Guwahati

Geetiswami Gokulananda, a thinker, social reformer and philosopher always thought seriously for the deplorable conditions of the Bishnupriya Manipuri people and the society at his time and said to his dear community fellows - “Aar aar jaator majhe shilpa bidya aache, aami koti hinpasilang amartat nei buliya”, it means - “we feel very sad seeing our fellow people do not have any art of skills while the other community people posses a classified art of skill”. It’s a dream of every human to live in a peaceful, healthy, balanced and developed society and the same was also a dream of Geetiswami Gokulananda.

A dream of a developed society can only be a reality and possible when the key elements of the society are harnessed properly. People have realized that if the key members of the society are kept paralyzed, then, dreaming for a healthy and developed society is of no avail. Youth power is one of the key energetic elements of a society who needs to be energized and nourished properly to build up a strong society and protect the society from evil power, social injustice & crime. Also in our patriarchal society, one of the long time paralyzed member is the woman who needs to be empowered for their active participation in all respect of life for self, family and social development.

Geetiswami always raised voice for social reformation, education development, skill development and capacity building. He tried to make people realize that it is the right time for our Bishnupriya Manipuri people to awake from sleep, the darkness of ignorance to light the lamp of knowledge. Youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Youth is the crucial stage of life when a person is young, energetic and ambitious. Woman has always been playing the role of an architect of the domestic life. Since, the woman in the society stay more at home with the children or youths, generally it is expected from her to play the important role to take care of children in terms of their diet, health, moral education and proper utilization of time in valuable work. But how much it would be correct to expect from an illiterate or uneducated mother that she will be capable enough to take proper care of her children, give good moral education and show the right path of success in life to her children.

In a socio-religious program addressing the audience, an intellectual in his speech said that “mor emaa lerik naw tampkoresego uhane hurkang kale mi emaarangto kittaw hikanirta naw pasu, jeta hiklang uta habbi babarangto hiklangta”, which means “my mother is illiterate, so in my childhood I could not learn anything from my mother, whatever I have learned, learned from my father only”. If a mother or a woman is illiterate in our society, who is to be blamed to keep her deprived from education, develop her knowledge, mental ability, different art of skills and ability to give proper guidance to her children? In many families it is very common to hear that when a child brings good academic result or do something good to make his parents feel proud, then the father will comment that his child has gone to him and takes the entire credit of his child’s success. But, when his same child do something wrong against his wish hampering his pride or bring poor academic result, then the entire blame & responsibility goes to the child’s mother. What does it mean? If a mother is uneducated or illiterate and unaware about the importance of education, how much she is to be blamed and make her answerable for the bad academic result or choosing a wrong path by the child?

Geetiswami gave due honour to the women folk and requested people for giving all rights and privileges to women to develop at par with men. In one of his drama titled “Matri Mangal”, he wrote – “Dharma sabha lakhe lakhe kathi bhikha korei, Koriya kittaw unnotti samman neibo, Nari samman je jaate nei.”, it means “perform hundreds or thousands of religious meetings by involving the masses but it would be of no avail where the womanhood is not honored”. In a Bishnupriya Manipuri family also, a working husband says to his wife - “baat kotogo raadani, kol kheri darani aar sow somalani eta kuno kaam nagoi, rupa kamani ehanei asol kaamhan...”, which means “cooking rice, washing utensils and looking after children are not the works at all, earning money is only the major work...”. But an educated Bishnupriya woman(BM) also proved her competence of shouldering all responsibilities of life - she earns, she spends, she invests and on top of that, she is independent in terms of being able to manage her own existence completely, including running of her own home and looking after her children and family. In spite of all these, some social drawbacks still exist which compel women to adopt the wrong path and unsocial activities due to lack of proper education and moral values. Men too are equally responsible for encouraging such unsocial activities by women as men hold a socially dominant position always  took the overall right to protect the society.

So, it’s high time demand of the society to strengthen our people in order to strengthen the society as a whole. When we recall our great leaders, their activities and messages, we recall their patience, courage, intelligence and selfless contributions which encourage and energize the people to work more effortlessly with dedication for the welfare of the society. Geetiswami Gokulananda is a source of inspiration for the new Bishnupriya Manipuri generation and encourages the people to follow a path with new ambitions and goals keeping the society a target, the actual need and demand of the society and self development. A well-established and successful individual or a youth can think and contribute some good efforts for the society but an individual or a youth with empty stomach cannot think for the social development. Well motivated and competent youths can take bold steps to remove social injustice and crime.

Youths of present Bishnupriya Manipuri society too are facing the problem of under-education, unemployment, economically backwardness, identity crisis, self-dependency, lack of self confidence and low self esteem. So, it’s the demand of Bishnupriya Manipuri youths and women for skill development and capacity building to develop and strengthen self in all respect - intellectually, economically, professionally and socially as a whole. Skills, capacity and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any nation or society. Society with higher and better levels of skills adjusts more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of the present time’s demand. Being skilled means the ability to adjust, to adapt in response to the changing needs and environment with the change of time. Skill implies capability, rather than competence and proficiency. Such skills require commitment, determination and application.

Skill Development means the capability to respond to the varying conditions and challenges posed by our situation and change of time which are determined by our environment to accomplish a goal or purpose. It can also be defined as the embodiment of acquired knowledge, experience and the ability to react and respond to changes in the environment with appropriate actions and decisions to achieve a desired end-product or a state of equilibrium. The type of skills may be negotiating skills, professional skills and political skills.

While Capacity Building is a process of building capabilities in individuals, groups, institutions, organizations and societies at all levels to effectively prepare for and respond to the challenging situations of time and demand of people’s needs. It reinforces or creates strengths and increases the capability of individuals to produce or perform. It involves acquiring knowledge, providing opportunities to make decisions and empowering to act. Humans with complex learning and behavior patterns naturally drive their capacity to do their jobs and carry out their responsibilities--whether those responsibilities encompass self, family, profession or society.

Skill development initiatives should be undertaken to develop skills to make the people employable and help them to secure their life. Skill development for unemployed and under-educated individuals will inculcate their dignity and create greater awareness towards occupational, environmental, safety and health concerns. Occupational patterns are changing; new jobs and job titles, job enlargement, job enrichment and new flexible work arrangements are emerging. Employment demands are shifting towards higher skill categories. Educated individuals generally prefer for jobs in government sectors or private sector organizations but jobs are very limited in numbers which cannot cater to a large scale population. So, many educated and under-educated youths compel to do business and self-employed as their career or remain unemployed.

In rural areas and in difficult areas mainly, infrastructure and programmes for skill development are particularly scarce. Specially the women are increasingly the main workers in rural households, as their husbands migrate but often equipped with only traditional and outdated skills and knowledge. Skill development in rural areas will contribute to improve productivity and working conditions in the agricultural sector while at the same time enabling rural workers, particularly young people, to access emerging employment opportunities beyond the agricultural sector. The outreach and quality of skill development in rural areas needs to be improved so as to enable rural workers to acquire and upgrade technologies; increase agricultural production; expand access to market and engage in off-farm activities which can generate supplemental income.

Village or block-based skill development centres needs to be set up to serve the needs of local communities. The skill development centres will help in identifying local employment opportunities and providing or organizing adequate training and post-training support according to the specific needs of local areas. Skill development for self-employment is an important component in these skill development efforts in rural areas. Training support, including mentoring for access to markets, credit and appropriate technologies, is an important part of skill development strategy for self-employment.

Equal access to skill development is essential for all social groups particularly women, unemployed and disadvantaged section of society, to help them in securing decent employment and moving out of poverty. The effort needs to be combined with a major initiative in raising awareness among the target groups about the benefit of skill development, employment and learning opportunities and also about support schemes that enable them to participate in training in various arts of skills. This will also help in empowerment of vulnerable groups.

Hence, our society should focus on the entrepreneurship skill development for youths in rural areas, unorganized sectors and also in towns. They should go for skill development in different sectors according to their ability and capacity like Agriculture, Food Processing, Textiles, Craftsmanship, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Information Technology and also go for various government or non-government Labour and Employment Training Schemes like Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Skill development of BPL, MSME [Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO)], Entrepreneurship Development Programme, Skill Development Programme (SDP), Management Development, Human Resource Development etc.

Unfortunately, today we find many youths are taking much interest in matters which are not useful to them as well as society and nation. They choose to spend their days with alcohols, drugs and spend their nights in partying and gossiping. They have no vision and if they do have dreams they do not have the capacity or drive to make any attempt at achieving them. In villages, food production is insufficient and no employment opportunities are available in the villages. Many youths in villages started brewing liquor to earn their livelihood. Such youths do not listen to philosophical ideologies nor think for the society welfare. Social change is not possible if people are haunted by the daily problem of making two ends meet. It is the role of every man and woman to motivate our youth and teach their responsibility & goal setting.

Bishnupriya Manipuri society is still a backward community in most of the sectors which need to be geared up to make our society people self-competent, productive, improve standard of life and attain sustainability. The emphasis should also be given on competitiveness, academic success, career goals, income and social mobility. It is imperative for the youths to move up the skill-ladder both in high skill services and high technology industrial production. Thus, skill development and capacity building need to be given high priority to build a better future and create a stronger society.

In memory of Geetiswami Gokulananda, on his birth anniversary, keeping his ambitious dreams in mind for making a better society and being a legend source of inspiration, we people need to think a step ahead to fulfill his pending dreams and visions. Let’s all pledge to work jointly with a mission and move forward with a spirit of commitment to achieve the dream of every common man and of the great philosopher, Geetiswami. A better today can make a better future.

Courtesy: SMARANIKA 2011


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