Documents of ADATS - Book 5

Note on Skill Training

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Coolie dependence on agriculture has long surpassed all optimal measures of reasonable sustenance. This has led to the emergence of a so called subsistence economy where sheer existence is at subhuman levels, now threatening even paltry and underrated definitions of subsistence. The immediate future holds a grim scenario of pauper migration into slums and pavements for the young and healthy, and a wasting into destitution and death for the rest. This has formed the emotional rationale for many NGDOs exploring alternate offfarm ventures.

Traditional NGDO responses have, in the main, aimed at converting the rural poor themselves into petty offfarm entrepreneurs of a kind. The introduction of cottage industries and handicrafts for the urban market have failed for 2 reasons. Firstly because the low organic composition of the ventures have resulted in their risk bearing capacity looming close to zero. And secondly because the poor were not equipped to comprehend and deal with the intricacies of market forces. The crisis normally surfaced during marketing.

Coolies, whose astute instincts have got institutionalised into localised survival strategies, can effectively deal with the vagaries of the weather and fluctuating fortunes in patronclient relations. But these are totally different from the street sense needed to survive in the almost chaotic jungle of individual entrepreneurs struggling with each other in the urban market. Quite apart and different from skills needed to stitch straight and pretty, the tailor needed another canny intelligence to keep her job in an unsure venture which swayed with supply, demand and competition. It is in the imparting of this sixth sense that many skill training efforts have failed.

NGDOs who themselves attempted to run employment generating ventures without separating the lines of management and holding on to the same social principles which guided their other developmental activities all ran into problems of viability sooner rather than later.