Through these MoUs, the ministry would procure school uniforms for students in tribal communities as well as encourage tribal entrepreneurship.
Tribal entrepreneurship: In order to promote tribal entrepreneurship, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has entered into two MoUs with the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) through two of the agencies associated with the ministry – the National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS) and the National Scheduled Tribe Finance Development Corporation (NSTFDC). Through these MoUs, the ministry would procure school uniforms for students in tribal communities as well as encourage tribal entrepreneurship, the ministry said in a statement.
Talking exclusively to Financial Express Online, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda said, “Considering the government’s focus and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to embrace Khadi as a philosophy and, recently, as an important part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ mission, the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs felt that it would be appropriate if the fabric for these uniforms was sourced from the KVIC.”
The ministry believes that this would be the most appropriate way of taking Mahatma Gandhi’s message to the tribal areas, considering that the country is in the middle of celebrating 150 years of the Mahatma.
Under the first MoU, NESTS would procure about 6 lakh metres of Khadi cloth from the KVIC, and the cost for this has been estimated at around Rs 15 crore. The ministry says that the move would be beneficial to as many as 75,000 students who live across 23 states in India in the remotest areas. The ministry added that next year, this budget would be increased to Rs 50 crore, which would help as many as 3.6 lakh students.
Meanwhile, the second MoU, signed between KVIC and the NSTFDC is aimed to encourage entrepreneurship among tribal communities, seeing as the NSTFDC has been given the responsibility of implementing concessional loans schemes for tribals in India so that they can develop economically. Under this, the NSTFDC funds the entrepreneurial ventures of the tribes across various economic sectors.
Why is the ministry procuring so much cloth for uniforms?
The move to procure cloth for uniforms of students of the ministry’s flagship EMRS or Eklavya Model Residential Schools was done as a part of revamping of the programme.
Explaining about the EMRS and the need to change uniforms, the Minister told FE Online, “Since 1997-98, the Ministry has been establishing Eklavya Model Residential Schools with an aim to ensure holistic development of tribal students through quality education. EMRSs are residential schools with classes from 6th to 12th Standard having a total capacity of 480 students. The programme was revamped in December, 2018 to improve its geographical outreach to all blocks with 20,000 or more tribal persons and 50% or more ST population. The revamped programme also envisaged several qualitative improvements to establish the Eklavya Schools as a flagship entity of quality education in tribal areas.”
Arjun Munda added, “With the establishment of the National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS) to run and manage the schools as an autonomous body under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, efforts were taken to bring uniformity in several areas of operation of the schools including student uniform and logo. Initially, it was seen that the uniforms of the Students differed across States and in some places differed across schools within the same State. It was therefore felt that the students in the schools should have a unique and similar uniform so as to create an identity similar to JNVs/KVs and other schools.”
Design of the uniforms
The Union Minister of Tribal Affairs told FE Online how the standard design for the clothes came about.
“The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi was approached in December, 2019 to design the school uniforms for the EMRSs keeping in view the vibrant tribal culture and the future aspirations of establishing EMRSs as a centre of excellence in education in the tribal areas. NIFT in due course presented several options in different designs and shades and finally a design was finalised in October, 2020,” he said.
Talking further about the design of the uniform, he said, “The ministry has received standard uniform design of boys and girls’ school uniform with tie, belt and socks, sweater for boys and girls, blazer for boys and girls and sports uniform, including track suits. The states, depending upon the climatic condition, will have the flexibility to decide on opting for a half sleeve or full sleeve school uniform and sweater. The color of the uniform reflects the bright and vibrant culture of the tribals in a subtle way while retaining a modern outlook as EMRSs transform themselves to meet the needs of the future.“
With the ministry only procuring the cloth from KVIC, who, then, would be stitching the uniforms? The Minister said, “KVIC will supply the fabric cloth directly to the states having EMRSs. The State EMRS Societies in the state shall make arrangements for stitching of the uniform.”