Ploughing A Furrow For A Brighter Future

Updated: May 18 2003, 05:30am hrs
Ashok Kumar, 24. Married with two kids. High school passed. Village, Habibpur. He works as an associate at the after-paints line of the tractor assembly at New Holland Tractors Indias (NHTI) plant in Greater Noida, bordering Delhi. If he had not undertaken educational training from the Industrial Technical Institute (ITI), Greater Noida, under the insistence of the company management, he says he would have been a farmer with uncertain future.

Similarly, Subhas Singh has also been working at the paintshop of the plant after he successfully completed the fitter regular course from ITI. Mr Singh doesnt want to imagine how life would have been if he has not benefited from NHTIs employability and community development programme.

It all started when the NHTI, manufacturers of Ford tractors, set up its plant in Greater Noida in 1997. The company was required to compensate 34 families affected by land acquisition by providing employment to one of the members of each displaced family.

The easy way out available to the company was to just give them cheap manual labour. In fact, the residents even preferred that way, says S Y Siddiqui, director, human resources, NHTI. However, the company chose not to and instead took up a different course. Our concept of employability and community development programme then was received with a lot of scepticism at various levels, says Mr Siddiqui.

Today, however, NHTI boasts of 26 members working at the level of associates at the plant, who have benefited from technical education from the ITI under the companys employability and community development programme. Another six will be joining the company this June after they complete their course from ITI. They are as good as other employees in the plant, asserts Mr Siddiqui. It all started with our concept of making them employable and treat them with respect so that they can compete with the rest of the workers. It was our commitment to discharge our responsibility, he adds.

The success of the programme has resulted in the NHTI sponsoring a special fitters course at the ITI in association with the Uttar Pradesh government. The first batch will be passing out this summer and we are looking forward to it, says Mr Siddiqui. The course is open to all the residents of Greater Noida and not necessarily only to those families to whom we are obliged, he adds.

Reiterating the companys commitment to its employability and community development programme, Rajneesh Bawa, senior manager of human resources, NHTI, says: We supported each selected member from the 34 families by providing a stipend of Rs 1,000 a month for completion of school education and Rs 1,500 per month when they did their technical training. As for the the special fitters course, the NHTI spent about Rs 7 lakh for setting up the facility at the ITI for conducting classes. Annually we spend about Rs 3 lakh on recurring costs, which do not include the expenses incurred by the faculty provided by the NHTI and other miscellaneous expenses, says Mr Bawa.

Expressing satisfaction at the success of the course, he says: Earlier there used to be only about 1,000 odd applicants at ITI, but now there are more than 40,000 applicants seeking admission. Besides, other corporates in the region have also expressed willingness to be a part of the programme. This augurs well not only for the residents of the area, but also for the corporates situated in the area, who are looking out for skilled local work force.

The course provides training in machine building and equipment maintenance, fitment and flash fitting, apart from practical training in grinding and thread cutting. Besides, computer education and English comprehension have also been added to the course.

However, the NHTI is not willing to rest on what it has achieved so far. We would continue to support this programmes as far as our business and financial conditions allow us, commits Mr Bawa.