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USHA Sewing Schools: The Solution To Andhra Pradesh's Migration Problem?

USHA Sewing Schools: The Solution To Andhra Pradesh's Migration Problem?
Mori: Migration of workforce is not new to Andhra Pradesh since its bifurcation in 2013. Since then a vast number of people from the rural areas of the state have been migrating to the nearby cities in Tamil Nadu, especially to Chennai to eke out a living. To find a solution to the increasing migration problem, the government of Andhra Pradesh in 2015 partnered with Berkeley University to launch the 'Smart Villages Mission' and the sleepy village of Mori emerged as Andhra Pradesh's first smart village.

"The smart village initiative is to empower people in the rural areas, give them the tools to access the global market and give them a profession in real time" said Professor Solomon Darwin, Berkeley University. "It helps the people in the villages to make more profit by eliminating the middlemen from trading channels."

At a time when India is moving towards making its cities more citizen friendly and sustainable, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Smart Cities Mission', Berkeley University's initiative triggered a different form of growth in the rural counterparts.

However, as time passed, it became clearer that the challenges faced in the villages were far different from those in the urban sectors.

With quality of life being more important than quality of healthcare, education and employment for the rural habitants, the challenge was to introduce a service that kept the people from migrating out of their villages.

"Focus was on the underprivileged women to ensure that we were able to provide them with what they needed to become self-sufficient" said Kartikeya Mishra, District Collector, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. "We needed to ensure the women were able to make the ends meet rather than simply focussing on the general structure of the society."

Partnering up with corporations like USHA International, the government of Andhra Pradesh and Smart Villages team came up with an idea to set up training centers across the state to provide sewing classes to the rural women.

"Every single household which is covered by the smart village initiative should be able to achieve a livelihood of minimum Rs. 10,000 per month. That's the minimum target we are working on," said Mr Mishra.

The motive of this partnership was not to introduce women to sewing but to target women who were already equipped with the knowledge.

When Leelakumari, 36, learnt about the USHA Sewing School center in her village, she approached the MDO and enrolled in the programme. Although, she had already learnt sewing when she was young she could never pursue it after her marriage. The programme not just allowed her to get back to her sewing machine but also add value to her skills.

"I learned tailoring from a Mahila Mandal 20 years back but due to financial troubles, I couldn't complete the certification course," said Leelakumari. "Then I got married and after that I never got the opportunity to do this again, until now."

After the seven-day training programme, she began to hold classes in her village. "I get paid Rs. 500 per student for the training. I also help them find a job in the village."

In her new avataar, she feels empowered and confident in fulfilling her children's dreams. "My daughter wants to become an IAS officer and my son wishes to enter the IT industry or join the police service," she said. With more income in hand, Leelakumari has started planning for her children's future.

"For people who get trained here, we provide government loans to them to develop training schools in their hometown," said L.V Prasad, MDO, Razole Mandal, East Godavari District. "We also conduct multiple awareness programmes for their better development."

By providing such assistance, the state government can tackle the state's biggest problem, migration.

"The government benefits from such training centres because by providing more opportunities to these people, we are able to curb migration from these areas" said L.V Prasad.

Interventions like that of the USHA sewing training programme are not just helping in keeping the women in the state but also helping men who majorly migrate to find menial jobs in other states.

Racharla Srihari, 34, a resident in Undi mandal, West Godavari is one of those who received assistance from the USHA Sewing School and now runs a training centre to empower other women in his village.

"I belong to a common agricultural family and used to work in my father's fields during my childhood days," he said. "Due to financial setbacks, I dropped out of school after class 7 but I didn't want to continue working in the field."

From there, he went on to join a mechanical shop where he worked for two years. However, when that didn't interest him anymore, he decided to take up tailoring as his profession. Having experience in sewing for 17 years, Srihari opened his tailoring shop but when he wanted to start a training institute, he realised he needed an affiliation as well.

"I came to know about USHA Sewing School from the Smart Village team and they advised me to get an affiliation which would help me in my business," he said. "Once I received that, my class of 5 students grew to 20 and more customers, started placing their orders in my shop."

There are many like Srihari who would have left their villages and gone to the cities in search of better livelihoods had it not been for the collaboration between the government of Andhra Pradesh and Berkeley University. A new era has dawned in Andhra Pradesh where villagers find opportunities without having to desert their homes.

Also Read: Here Is How A Sewing Machine, Training And Sheer Perseverance Made E. Iruthayamary, Financially Independent

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About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by NDTV and USHA, aims at empowering women from rural India and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities. Since 2011 Usha Silai Campaign has trained more than 3.95 lakh rural women within five years, with 17,000 Silai schools, spanning over 9272 Indian villages in India.

 

Kushalta Ke Kadam in Season 4 has returned with new goals and vision. The new season will witness the establishment of the new cluster in Kashmir, apart from the existing four clusters setup last year. The women from volatile Kashmir will work with well-known fashion designer Rohit Bal and get an unique opportunity to learn from him and make clothes for him. The work done by the Silai School women will be presented at Lakme Fashion week 2019.

 

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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
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