We are focused on making India world’s ‘skill capital’: Minister

New Delhi, April 30 (IANS)
Prime Minister Narendra Modis Skill India programme has proved to be of great help in the crisis caused by coronavirus. The programme that began in 2015 has seen Industrial Training Institutes (ITSs) across the country manufacture more than 20 lakh face masks and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits.
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship under Mahendra Nath Pandey has come out in support of state governments. His ministry has asked the states to consider converting more than 15,000 ITIs in the country into isolation wards.
Pandey told IANS in an exclusive interview that the Modi government aims to make India a ‘skill capital’ of the world. The work towards it would gain more momentum after the nationwide lockdown, he said. The ministry is now focused on working towards making up for the economic loss during the lockdown.
Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q. ‘Skill India’ is helmed by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. How is your ministry contributing to the national endeavour to contain coronavirus?

A. The ministry is working as per the vision of Prime Minister Modi. We have many skill partners who are working towards people’s welfare in this crisis situation. Students, associated with ‘Skill India’ through their innovative ideas and research, are contributing their 100 percent. I would like to give a few examples: The NSIT Mumbai has manufactured a hand-wash machine which is now installed at a Mumbai police station. This contraption allows washing of hands without touching the soap dispenser or the tap.
Similarly, ITI Berhampur (Odisha) has in collaboration with professors of MKCG Medical College has devised an aerosol box that tightly covers a patient’s face and nose and protects him against infection. Then ITI Cuttack students have built a robot that will help health workers to look after the patients. In Bihar’s Jehanabad, the ITI has built a public sanitizing tunnel.

Q. Your ministry has come forward to help the states in solving some of the problems in isolation wards. What is it all about?

A. We have 15,000 it is 33 National Skill Training Institutes. These institutes have better facilities in terms of building compounds etc. Our ministry has suggested the Centre and the states convert all of them into isolation wards. Many institutes have already been converted into shelter homes for migrant workers and the other needy.
Besides, the ITIs and skill centres have distributed more than 20 lakh face masks. They have also manufactured PPE kits. All of them have also contributed to the PM CARE Fund.

Q. What is the progress report of the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS)? How many will benefit from it? How many employers and businesses have been given financial help?

A. This scheme was started under the stewardship of Prime Minister Modi in 2016. The main objective of the scheme is to train as many people as possible in various skills. We will definitely achieve our goal of skilling maximum number of youths in the country. Under the apprenticeship scheme, 25 per cent of the stipend given to a trainee is being shared with the employer. We have increased the minimum stipend from Rs 5,000 to Rs 9,000 per month. We are working as per the market inclination, the demands of the present and requirements of the future.
We are preparing skilled and able workforce. Our aim is to make India a skill capital of the world. This model would stand the economy in good stead after we win the war against coronavirus. I hope more and more companies would follow us, which not only them but also the candidates. The sectors which would move on slowly would stand to benefit from this apprenticeship model.

Q. Coronavirus has badly impacted our economy. How is your ministry working towards ‘skill India’ amid this pandemic? The country has 65 per cent of the young population, and by improving their skills, they can be made employable.

A. Many public sector units associated with ‘skill India’ have been innovatively helping the local administration in fighting against coronavirus. This is not only a good example of helping the health workers, but also offers an inspiration as to how our youth by awakening entrepreneurship among them are ready to join the research field.
Our Ministry is planning to restart work at a fast pace post-lockdown. We want to make up for whatever time we have lost. We will work to make every youth self-reliant under Prime Minister Modi’s guidance. This corona pandemic has made us fully realize that we will have to learn to be self-reliant. My ministry is fully ready to achieve this objective.

Q. How do you view this fight led by Prime Minister Modi against the pandemic? How far has the government been successful?

A. The country is united in its fight against the pandemic – every body is contributing in one way or the other. .This success can be attributed to cooperation between the centre-and states, as also the interface with the corporate world. Also, the administration has been able to enforce rules with the cooperation with the people.
Our Prime Minister had said ‘jan bhi, jahan bhi’. It was in this context that Centre brought out an economic package for weaker sections. To solve the people’s problems amid corona, a helpline was launched at Central and state levels. All precautions are being publicized and suggestions are welcome from everybody to keep the nation safe and secure.
In this hour of stress, the government in public interest is offering free cooking gas cylinders for three months under the Ujjwala scheme. Doctors and nurses are covered under the insurance scheme. and stranded labourers are being helped to reach their homes. All types of medicines and medical services are being made available. Food is being arranged for daily wagers. . All this has been made successful under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. I am confident that we will soon get rid of this pandemic and we would build a healthy and successful nation.

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