Today's Editorial

Today's Editorial - 27 September 2023

Vishwakarma scheme traditional crafts

Source: By The Indian Express

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the PM Vishwakarma scheme in New Delhi on the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti, for giving government support to workers engaged in traditional crafts and skills.

First announced during his Independence Day speech around a month ago, the scheme is also being seen as a means for the government to reach out to the economically marginalised and socially backward communities – particularly the Other Backward Classes (OBC) groups – before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Here’s who the scheme targets and what its provisions say.

What is the Vishwakarma scheme?

It is a new scheme with an outlay of Rs 13,000 crore and is fully funded by the Central government. On this Vishwakarma Jayanti, we will give about Rs 13,000-15,000 crore to the people who live with traditional skills, who work with tools and with their own hands, mostly from the OBC community. Be it our carpenters, our goldsmiths, our masons, our laundry workers, our barber brothers, and sisters…” Modi had said on 15 August 2023.

Vishwakarma, in Hindu mythology, is seen as the architect of the gods and was the divine carpenter and master craftsman who fashioned the weapons of the gods and built their cities and chariots. Some legends say he was the architect of the mythical city Lanka mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana and is also said to have made the great image of Jagannatha at Puri in Odisha. He is considered the patron deity of workers, artisans, and artists.

Who is eligible for the Vishwakarma scheme?

A video from the government that was played at the launch event talked about how the professionals engaged in traditional crafts and skills for centuries, often taught by elders in the family, have faced certain problems. These include a lack of professional training for their work, of modern tools, the issue of distance from the markets relevant to them and the availability of little capital for investment.

Families associated with 18 such different sectors will be helped in all possible ways, the PM said. These include:

(i) Carpenters

(ii) Boat Makers

(iii) Armourers

(iv) Blacksmiths

(v) Hammer and Tool Kit Makers

(vi) Locksmiths

(vii) Goldsmiths

(viii) Potters

(ix) Sculptor, Stone breakers

(x) Cobblers (Shoesmiths/ Footwear artisans)

(xi) Masons (Rajmistri)

(xii) Basket/Mat/Broom Makers/Coir Weavers

(xiii) Doll & Toy Makers (Traditional)

(xiv) Barbers

(xv) Garland makers

(xvi) Washermen

(xvii) Tailors

(xviii) Fishing Net Makes.

What benefits can be availed of through the Vishwakarma Scheme?

The scheme is to help enhance the skills of workers employed in these fields and help them avail loans easily to aid their earnings.

Under the scheme, the Vishwakarma workers will be registered for free through Common Services Centres using the biometric-based PM Vishwakarma portal.

They will then be provided recognition through the PM Vishwakarma certificate and ID card, given skill upgradation involving basic and advanced training, a toolkit incentive of ₹15,000, collateral-free credit support up to 1 lakh (first tranche) and 2 lakh (second tranche) at a concessional interest rate of 5%, incentive for digital transactions and marketing support.

toolkit booklet has also been released in 12 Indian languages, with accompanying video elements, to aid the knowledge of workers on new technologies in their field.

Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said last month that a stipend of Rs 500 will be provided for skill training and Rs 1,500 to purchase modern tools. Five lakh families will be covered in the first year and 30 lakh families over five years, he said. “The scheme also aims to ensure that Vishwakarmas are integrated with the domestic and global value chains,” Vaishnaw said.

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