21.15 lakh applications received under PM Vishwakarma Scheme, says Skill Ministry

Tailors, masons, carpenters, barbers and basket weavers among those who have applied for skill support

December 10, 2023 09:50 pm | Updated December 13, 2023 07:27 pm IST - New Delhi

The PM Vishwakarma Scheme, launched by the Centre on September 17, has received over 21 lakh applications in two and a half months, data from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) show. The scheme, aimed at supporting and providing skill-upgradation training to artisans and craftspeople, was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The highest number of applications had come from Karnataka (6.28 lakh), followed by West Bengal (4.04 lakh), Assam (1.83 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (1.53 lakh) and Andhra Pradesh (1.21 lakh). In contrast, 15 States including Haryana, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and northeastern States have sent less than 10,000 applications each.

Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, MSDE, told The Hindu that of 21.15 lakh applications seeking training received till December 1, 9.13 lakh (43%) were from tailors (darzi). “Another 4.72 lakh applications, or 22%, were from masons [mistri], 1.86 lakh [9%] were from carpenters [suthar], and 4% each from basket-makers and barbers [naai],” said Mr. Atul Kumar Tiwari.

“We have also received 4,013 applications for the trade of armourer. It was thought that this was an ancient and redundant profession but it seems armourers are in demand for making movie costumes,” Mr. Atul Kumar Tiwari added.

The Vishwakarma Scheme provides formal training for upgradation and modernisation of traditional skills amid a changing economic landscape. It also offers financial assistance and creates avenues of “market linkage” for persons working in 18 trades and crafts. These include carpenter, boat-maker, armourer, blacksmith, hammer and tool kit maker, locksmith, goldsmith, potter, sculptor, cobbler, mason, basket-maker, doll and toy-maker, barber, garland maker, washerman, tailor, and fishing net-maker.

Mr. Atul Kumar Tiwari further added that while lakhs of persons have applied across the country, they are being vetted at three levels - by village committees, district and state levels.

“As on December 1, 17,758 candidates are ready to undergo training from 21 States. The target is to cover six lakh beneficiaries in FY 2023-24,” Mr. Tiwari said. Of these Karnataka has verified 7,924 candidates, followed by Assam (4,980), Andhra Pradesh (2,737), Uttar Pradesh (1,033).

“After the applicants are thoroughly vetted, they will attend basic training of five to seven days and advanced training of 15 days with a stipend of ₹500 per day that will expose them to modern tools, latest technologies, design elements, and digital and financial skills,” Mr. Atul Kumar Tiwari said.

The budget envisaged for the scheme from FY 2023-24 to FY 2027-28 is ₹13,000 crore.

While 4.04 lakh candidates have applied from West Bengal, the State has not put in place village-, district- and State-level committees for vetting candidates yet, officials said.

In November, MSDE held a five-day training programme at the National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NEISBUD) for 41 master trainers under the scheme across 10 States. This batch of master trainers will in turn teach barbers, tailors, masons, carpenters, doll and toy makers and blacksmiths.

Lucknow-based Jai Kumar Tiwari, one of the master trainers, who is also on the training panel of Department of Housing and Urban Planning in Uttar Pradesh, told The Hindu that he will train some of the early batches of Vishwakarma applicants at Balia district of U.P. later this month.

“In masonry, we are training local masons to upgrade their skills in brick work, plastering, flooring, tiling and setting up concrete beam slabs. For instance, newer technologies like ‘cross line laser level,’ now help in levelling and aligning floors and others materials using laser beams. This is an advancement as compared to the more traditional and rudimentary method of using water levels. We will pass on knowledge of newer methods to masons during training,” Mr. Jai Kumar Tiwari said.

Only after the artisans and craftspeople have attended the training will they receive a tool kit incentive of ₹15,000, to purchase modern tools specific to their trade. They will also receive collateral-free loans at lower interest rates of nearly 8% up to ₹1 lakh and an additional ₹2 lakh for setting up their business.

“Traditional artisans make cash transactions, and their earnings don’t get reflected in the country’s GDP. They have to link their earnings to their account so that it can be tracked. We will train them in upgrading their digital and financial skills too,” Mr. Jai Kumar Tiwari added.

The article has been edited to correct a spelling error in MSDE Secretary Atul Kumar Tiwari’s name
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