‘Smart’, A SHG in Manipur Lives Up to Gandhi’s Self-Reliant Vision
The Northeast region of India has a a high literacy rate and the state of Mizoram ranks only second in the literacy chart, right after Kerala. This means that the number of annual passed-outs from the schools and colleges in the region is naturally high. Thus what we have here is a large number of educated young people, at the peak of their lives and belonging to the category of the most productive manpower in the societal strata.
However, with limited Government jobs in almost all the states, the youth in Northeast very quickly come face to face with the impracticality of gaining employment in the public sector. The option for private sector is also limited as there are only a handfuls of private industries. Both insurgency and slow inclusion of the region into the Central Government’s development map are the most obvious reasons for this.
But the new generation youth are innovative and spirited. They have a will and so for them there is a way. One such group of unemployed youth from Manipur state is showing everyone how. Having formed a ‘SMART Society’, the group aims to provide employment to youngsters in the region to prevent them from going astray.
The group came into existence on November 21, 2008 and is perhaps a living example of the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of self-reliance and decentralization. Currently, it has over 200 members which include weavers, farmers, and entrepreneurs.
Farmers’ clubs are set up in various villages in the state to help farmers increase their productivity by providing latest equipments. These farmers are initiated to utilize organic techniques of farming, which are also environment friendly. The society collects mustard seeds from them and extracts oil at the society-run small-scale mills.
The finished product is sold under the ‘Acha-Thao’ brand. N. Mobi, a worker at a oil mill under the SMART Society said “The society has provided employment to many youngsters. We are happy and we are earning enough to support our family. We make organic products, which are healthy to consume.”
The society also helps farmers get a better price for their produce and provides jobs to unemployed youth at oil mills. It is engaged in producing yarn and has a large number of workers at its Smart Micro Division. To market the final product and to help the weavers get a good price for their work, the society organizes exhibitions both in and outside the state.
A glimmer of hope has already been sown by the SMART society. Now, young people in the region don’t have to depend solely on Government jobs. With a little bit of vision and hard-work, they can be self-employed and self-reliant. SMART society has shown how a positive change can be brought in the Northeast. SMART society has indeed made, a ‘smart’ move!