Hyderabad: When 2017 batch IAS officer Manuj Jindal was posted in Naxal affected Bhamragad area of Gadchiroli, he took a vow to transform this area into a developmental zone to end the exploitation of youth by vested interests.

After careful thought and deliberations, he decided to set up art, craft and cultural center that will only not change the image of Bhamragad but help local vulnerable youth to earn their livelihood.

A completely dilapidated old Tehsildar building came handy for the project. After discussing with engineers and experts, he decided to convert the building into art, craft and cultural center. Soon, he engaged engineers and gave a new makeover to the building using funds from the Tribal Welfare department.

“Bhamragad is known for its underdevelopment. The place has no jobs, no industries. People here are not literate. Naxalism is prevalent in 90 percent area. My only intention was to set up a training center to generate employment for vulnerable tribal youth,” said Jindal, who is the assistant collector of Bhamragad.

Last month the center was unveiled and 36 students in the age group of 17-45 years particularly from vulnerable tribal groups were enrolled for training.

“Potential of youth in Bhamragad needs to be tapped. New art and craft center will be the first step towards achieving that goal. Lots of local youth know their traditional craft. It is just a matter of giving them proper training to hone their skills,” he said.

Buoyed by the response, Jindal is now planning to expand this center and involve more people into the developmental activities. “We have partnered with another village. They will help us in finding the buyers for our products. Since connectivity is a bit problem here, we would like to focus on offline sales and distribution. Hopefully, we will integrate the local art with tourism projects in the village,” he said.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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