Reducing economic inequity in insurgency-prone areasDecember 5th, 2010 - 12:54 pm ICT by IANS
By Anjali Ojha
Dehradun, Dec 5 (IANS) To catch them young and at their raw best - that is the motto of an environmental group that give skill training to 60 youths from India’s most insurgency-hit quarters to make them self-employed and help them overcome their temptation to join rebel groups.
For 19-year-old Alpha Rani Minj, life has always been under the shadow of insurgency. Coming from Jharkhand’s Maoist-affected Gumla district, she feels unemployment is the biggest contributor to the present situation in her native place.
But, determined not to succumb to the pressures of her economic situation, Minj travelled hundreds of kilometres to Uttarakhand where she learnt how to channelise the local resources in her area to eke out a living.
Along with several other youngsters from 11 insurgency-torn states, Minj travelled to Dehradun to attend a special workshop of the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO) on local employment generation. HESCO has earlier achieved milestones in promoting local employment in the Himalayan region.
Through the workshop, training in producing gobar gas from cowdung, water mills, food processing, making biscuits and breeding honey bees, was imparted to the 60-odd group.
“Naxalism, Maoism and terrorism are part of coffee-table talk everywhere, but the root of the problem is the huge economic inequity of rural-urban areas,” veteran environmentalist and HESCO founder Anil Joshi told IANS.
“As many as 268 districts in 15 states fall under the shadow of local revolt of community-driven resentment,” Joshi says.
The workshop, which saw participants from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura, focussed on local resource-based employment opportunities and taught the young guns how they can become the engines of employment generation.
“The Naxals take youth from the village, they even take away children. Many girls also join them, but all this is because there is poverty and not enough employment opportunities,” Minj said.
The same emotions are echoed by 23-year-old Neha, who hails from the terror-prone Rajouri-Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Militancy is very high in our district, we are not able to do anything. Even education is affected, we cannot get books, cannot have regular classes and there are no employment opportunities.
“Even help from the administration doesn’t reach us all the time. We want to do a lot but are not able to do so,” Neha lamented.
“Water mills and food processing are some of the things I will try starting in my area,” said a visibly excited Neha.
Romavati from Manipur was unable to contain her happiness at the training.
“When there are strikes, life is stagnant. If we have means to earn, we can be better off,” she said with a glint of hope in her eyes.
Anil Joshi, a Padma Shri award-winning environmentalist, told IANS: “Employment generation based on local resources is sustainable and it will give the economy maximum push. We expect the mission to go far ahead and have long-lasting affect in reducing insurgency.”
“When the gaps are bridged, the insurgency will subside. That can be done only through creating opportunities,” he adds.
(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Tags: arunachal pradesh, coffee table, conservation organization, economic inequity, employment generation, hesco, himalayan region, honey bees, jammu and kashmir, jharkhand, maoism, odd group, ojha, prone areas, rebel groups, skill training, travelled hundreds, water mills, workshop training, young guns