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February 24, 2018

Driver Training, a skill that changed lives of thousands of tribals in Gujarat

Instead of hitting a vegetable farm each morning, Damor Mukesh Kumar Galabhai, a temporary agri-labourer at a remote village off Vadodara, now enters a computer simulation room. The 26-year-old craves to sit on the driving simulator fitted with three-monitor control panel and a full-fledged car dashboard.

Enter, India’s lone ‘ST-only’ institution for skilling underprivileged boys and turning them into industry-ready driving professionals.

Much before the Skill India slogans started shelling your ear drums, the Gujarat-based school had engaged itself to drive direction-less tribal youths from the remote corners of the state to score big in the cut-throat job domain. Since 2009, All Gujarat Institute of Driving Technical Training & Research (AGIDTTR), Vadodara, has been shaping up young guns belonging to the scheduled tribes to make them professionals in driving and allied automobile operations.

A confident Damor who had to face a tough time to make his ends meet at Gujarat’s Santrapur taluka at Mandara is awaiting a decent and stable driver’s job at his last leg of training at AGIDTTR, Vadodara.

But where did the magic wand work and how did it galvanize the lives of 30,000 tribal youths in seven years? Nothing but number speaks for AGIDTTR, an autonomous society co-funded by Government of Gujarat and Maruti Suzuki India, which has bid adieu its 100th batch.

A rigorous 45-day, on-road training on a swanky 2.5-km-long British Motor School-standard track, daily indoor practice on computer simulators and classes on automobile law and etiquette are the crux of the module. “Not merely a job, the youths are getting an employment which pays 10 times more than they earn in a temporary rural work or mufassil contract assignments,” said Mahesh Rajoria, assistant VP (driving & training), AGIDTTR.

Rathwa Bhawesh Kumar Sunderbhai, a 19-year-old quiet but enterprising youth from Chhota Udaipura in Khaika, 85 km off Vadodara, now bags a Rs 10,000-a-month stable driver’s job at an Indian corporate giant in Surat. He got to know about AGIDTTR at his village fair where a makeshift promotional tent was offering admission to the institute. “Word of mouth and peer review is what made me shift the gear in life. We, the tribal youths, are always shy of entering any education or training domain. But, the approach of the institute was different,” says Rathwa in his chaste Gujrati dialect.

However, training on wheels is not just the one that the rural youths are imparted. “They are helped to get accustomed to the urban culture. We give thrust on their adaptability to attaining a shy-to-smart outlook. The boys are mostly tutored on learning table manners, how to wish people, getting engaged to debating, games, songs and other physical activities,” says Jignasha Barot, one of the few female instructors in the male bastion of AGIDTTR.

Attitude, behavior, punctuality and discipline — the four important aspects of driving are injected through personality development programme during this course, she adds.

This public-private initiative under the Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna aims at both social infrastructure and sustainable employment for each tribal family in the nearby region. Scripting a new story of private-public partnership, Maruti Suzuki India had teamed up with the Gujarat government as a silent technical partner.

Patel Rashid Kumar was just an unemployed village teenager until he heard about AGIDTTR from one of his friends who graduated from the same institute and got a posting in Mahindra as a commercial vehicle driver. “With lots of non-earning members in my family, I was in search of an opportunity outside the uncertain agricultural job,” says Rashid.

The four-meal-a-day (breakfast, lunch, evening snacks and dinner) system seems to make the training more appealing to the budding drivers belonging to the poorest of families than a plum job that they are supposed to get at the end of the course.

Spread over a 20-acre sprawling campus, AGIDTTR houses 370 students along with 14 trainers, 14 vehicles and four simulators and dual-controlled training vehicles. It has four types of courses — LMV, LMV-Commercial, HMV and Forklift — where tribal youths of 18 to 32 years get an admission with zero fee.

On whether, female candidates are eligible for this unique development programme, the institute‘s deputy director said: “We want women trainees here, but hostel is a problem right now. Once the accommodation part gets settled, we will be able to impart training to them. Of course, pushing female tribal candidates to a drivers’ training institute will be a tougher job for us. However, we have quite a few women driving trainers, who have been involved with the society from day one.”

Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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