Monday, August 27, 2012

Flight too fancy: Tribals say no to being airhostesses; Last time they got trained, airlines didn’t want them and tribal min said the girls were not attractive -- This time, the tribals don’t want to train

In spite of the debacle that UPA-1’s ambitious tribal empowerment scheme of training tribals for working in the aviation sector turned into in Maharashtra — only three out of 100 trainees got placed with airlines — the State government has decided to pull the scheme out of cold storage. 

Only, this time around tribal organizations are clear on their decision to not avail of the opportunity.

Tribal leaders who met Governor K Shankarnarayanan two days ago requested him that instead of reviving the aviation and hospitality sector training for tribal boys and girls, the State government should immediately implement a government resolution (GR) passed in 2011 that focuses on providing better facilities to those living in tribal hostels.

Ravindra Talpe, secretary, Natural Resources Conservators Organization (NACO) and Sitaram Joshi, president, Adivasi Samaj Kruti Samiti who met Shankarnaryanan said training for more ‘practical’ careers like clerks and officers would be welcome.

Speaking to Mirror, Talpe said, “We demand an audit of the earlier scheme. How many girls were employed by the airlines? How many of them are working currently? These are the questions which need to be answered before money is spent on the new scheme.”

Talpe and Joshi pointed out that the tribal girls come from rural areas and are not proficient in English, which is a basic requirement laid down by airlines. “In the name of training, the girls are taught skills that are unsuitable for jobs in other sectors, rendering them unemployable. Same is the case with boys trained as cabin crew,” Talpe said.

Joshi added: “The girls from Dhule and Nandurbar were brought to Pune and trained in institutes like AHA, but they didn’t get jobs. Now, the government is planning to train them in several district headquarters.

How can the girls trained in smaller cities be suitable for jobs that those who trained in Pune didn’t get? Besides, staying in cities leads to expenses. As this would be a special course, the tribal students wouldn’t be eligible for concessions. How will they survive?”.

Both leaders demanded that the Tribal Welfare Department should instead provide facilities like study centres to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students so that they become employable.

In 2006-07, 97 tribal girls and three boys were selected from remote tribal areas of the state and brought to Pune to be trained in aviation, travel and hospitality sectors. The special course was initiated by the Congress-led Central government with a budget of Rs one lakh per student. 

But when they finished their training, there were no jobs offered to them by the industry. In fact, Babanrao Pachpute, then State minister for tribal development blamed the students’ shortcomings for the situation.

Among other reasons, Pachpute had said they lacked “physical assets”, while the State Commissioner for tribal affairs had said the competition was too much for them given their tribal background. Pachpute had said the trainees were not physically appealing and their accented English was not good for communicating with others while on the job.

This time, in the Cabinet decision taken four days ago, the State government will be setting aside the same amount of Rs one lakh per student for 100 students, but the training would be imparted in Thane, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Nagpur. Their needs of accommodation, food, uniforms and study material would be covered. They would also be helped with placement, post-training.

When it was pointed out that the Centre had dumped the scheme three years ago, the current State minister for Tribal development, Rajendra Gavit, said, “The concerns of the tribal organisations are true to an extent.

The last time, the scheme was not successful for several reasons. Only three girls got jobs, while none of the boys did. This time, we are looking at removing whatever shortfalls that scheme had had. We will try to train the girls at renowned institutes and we will help them get jobs.”