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Keeping youths from Maoist clutches

Special training gives hope to disillusioned

Young people getting training in embroidery in the Salesian center Young people getting training in embroidery in the Salesian center
  • CM Paul, Kolkata
  • India
  • December 8, 2011
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A Church NGO plans keep potential young recruits from the clutches of Maoist rebels in central and eastern India by offering them a better future through skills training.

“We need to invest in skills training and offer job opportunities before young people feel compelled to take up arms,” says Father A.M. Jose, who directs the Salesian-run Don Bosco Tech India.

The NGO has already outlined two projects to train around 20,000 youths in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand over the next two years. It will submit its proposals to the federal government in the next few weeks, the priest said today.

The new projects assume added significance after security forces hunted down and killed a top Maoist leader called Kishangji in West Midnapore near the West Bengal- Jharkhand border last month.

It is hoped the projects coupled with the government’s success against the rebels will deter disillusioned young people from turning to the Maoists.

Father Jose says they are also emboldened by the success of a skills training experiment one of the NGO’s affiliates undertook in the Howrah district of West Bengal state three years ago.

Father Jose says scores of young people in the state’s Jungle Mahal region – a Maoist stronghold -- have found new hope. They would have fallen prey to the rebels but for the training project, he added.

“I was lucky to get the opportunity to study civil engineering,” said Kamal (name changed for security reasons), one of 4,000 young people trained by the Don Bosco Self Employment Research Institute at Mirpara village.

He said a friend, a former student of the institute, told him about the vocational training.

At a recent recruitment fair Kamal said he got a job with starting salary of 9,500 rupees (US$182) plus food, accommodation and other perks.

“I will be able to send money home to support my younger sister’s education,” Kamal said proudly as he applied the finishing touches to a house he was building as part of his three-year course.

His dean, Salesian Father Alfred Paul, says Kamal’s success is all the more remarkable as he was the worst student among the 40 in his batch. He knew no English and couldn’t apply himself to study and discipline, the priest recalled.

After three years, Kamal now speaks English fluently and is a gentleman, the priest claimed.

Salesian Brother T.V. Mathew, who founded the institute in 1978, says more than 85 percent of their students have been school dropouts. Now it trains boys and girls in 14 trades.

Related links:

Church condemns bloody Maoist attack

Maoist strike disrupts diocesan synod

 
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