I am sure you remember my story on Vedanta Sparrows. The memories of those innocent Vedanta Anganwadi children still echoes. My next destination was to move further to Chittorgarh, to see the fort.
My bus had left and the option available was only of an auto. Auto drivers do know how to identify a tourist. Before I could approach them, one of them approached me. A small negotiation and the deal was done. He would be my guide too in showing me the fort. I was happy. My auto driver name was Raju – Raju the Guide.
In few hours we had reached the historic and mesmerizing fort of Chittor the Chittorgarh Fort. Raju told me that this Chittorgarh Fort is considered to be the largest fort of India spread across 700 acres and is an epitome of the courage and velour of Chittorgarh. Ala-Ud-Din Khilji, who desired Queen Padmini of Chittor, invaded the city in 1303 A.D. When the conditions got worse, Rawal Ratan Singh - the ruler of Chittorgarh, led his men donned with saffron robes of sacrifice and went on war. Inside the fort, women, including Padmini and the children, performed mass suicide or jauhar, rather than losing their honor & pride. We went on with the most famous tail of rani Padmini. I also saw Kali Mata temple, Padmini Palace and Kirti Stambh.
In between Raju received a call and he excused himself. Palaces and monuments have always excited me and I started clicking pictures. Raju returned with a broad smile on his face. I could not resist asking him the reason. He happily replied, `My younger brother Anil is settled now he has got a job after getting one month training in Hindustan Zinc Vocational Training School’. `Anil could never pass class V and finally left the studies. Our all efforts in making him educated, failed’, he continued.
While hearing the name `Hindustan Zinc’, I interrupted him. `Is it not the same company that is providing nutrition to children in child care centres’, I asked. `Yes madam, it is the biggest company in Rajasthan and they do a lot of work on community service for the rural poor like us’, Raju replied in gratitude.
I was eager to hear story of Anil, Raju brother. Rural youth are the backbone for upliftment of villages and if these youth are not attended constructively, in the long run, they would become reason for the downslide of any village. I asked Raju to make me meet Anil if possible, and he readily agreed.
From Chittor Fort we were now moving to Raju village, which he informed, was Azadnagar, under Gram Panchayat Khezadi. It was evening and by the time we reached, it was late. Raju had called Anil and he was waiting for us to meet. It was a traditional village house with basic amenities missing.
I also met Raju’s mother who offered me tea and also some Rajasthani food. It is said, when you hungry and see food, don’t think or talk, just eat and I was doing that.
Anil was a simple village youth of about 20 years. I could see a glow in his eyes as he was employed today. Anil told me that he was doing nothing and his time passed hanging around in the village or sitting at the only tea-stall in the village.
Anil started narrating his story. `It was an ordinary day when a Van came in the village fitted with big loudspeakers and banners & posters, almost hiding the entire Van. I was sitting with my friends having tea at the stall when this Van stopped and informed that Hindustan Zinc is organizing job oriented free training program for one month for people like us who have no qualifications and are dropouts. The training was to be given in many areas - tailoring, computer education, safety and electric work and it would be at Bhilwara’.
Anil enthusiasm was to be seen to be believed. He was talking like a responsible earning member of the family. He continued, `initially we were not interested, nothing new, as we had the habit of sitting idle. But when they informed that the boarding and lodging is also free and it also guarantees a job, we all friends thought of giving a try’.
`I was interested in tailoring’, Anil said. `After one month of successful training, I am now working in a nearby factory with a salary of about Rs. 4,000/-.’ I could see a spark in his eyes. I asked Anil, what you would do with your first salary. He immediately replied, `I have to buy a cycle for me to travel to my factory’.
My interest was to see the training centre and Anil and Raju promised me to take me the next day. I left for a nearby Hotel at the outskirts of the city. Next morning Raju and Anil picked me from my Hotel and we traveled for Bhilwara to the Hindustan Zinc Vocational Training Centre.
It was a big building and I could see hundreds of rural youth engrossed in learning different trades of training. Anil made me meet the Head of this Centre who informed that this training program has been organized jointly by Hindustan Zinc, IL&FS and Government of India. The Centre would train about 8000 rural youths in 5 years and also get them jobs. The target was to primarily cover BPL families youth and also dropouts to make the rural families economic independent.
I could see a large number of rural females attending the training program, neatly draped into training uniform the aprons. Their hands were working swiftly on the sewing machines.
I was sure, when you engage with rural youth for skill based employment, you actually not only uplift their social and economic status but also address a large part of migration from the villages to the cities.
We all left the place. I left for my Hotel, Raju for his daily routine auto work and Anil for his factory.
One thing is true, Government cannot alone bring prosperity and socio-economic independence in the deep rural areas. Rather, the task is too large to be handled by any one institution. It needs a close association, coordination and dedicated work by large corporates.
Vedanta’s company Hindustan Zinc was emerging as example who has attained a stature of being called a `People Company’. I decided to visit the places where Hindustan Zinc has successfully implemented community service programs.
My journey continues…