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Company Feature
Published on: April 6, 2022, 12:28 p.m.
Reacha’s game-changing role
  • Keeping the enemies away: students of Fashion Design Course making masks to combat Covid-19

By Business India Editorial

In collaboration with Indian Army and ONGC, Reacha, a community-based voluntary organisation, has been working on the social aspect of SDGs, specifically on ‘Goal 4: Quality Education’. It focuses on skill development, livelihood enhancement and nation building in an aspirational district – Baramulla in Jammu & Kashmir. 

In 2016, the Indian army was keen to launch a CSR initiative, as part of Operation Sadbhavana (Goodwill) under its overall counterterrorism strategy. Their intent was to re-integrate the awaam (locals) with the national mainstream and blunt the proxy war abetted from across the borders. In this regard, the Indian army started reaching out to several organisations for support and partnership. Reacha came forward and used its own available resources to support the initiative. It received pro-active support from ONGC CSR, which wanted to strengthen Indian army’s efforts in an aspirational district (Baramulla). 

With the support of ONGC, the Indian army and Reacha together developed projects based on local needs, customs and traditions, which are being undertaken in Baramulla under Operation Sadbhavana. The projects comprise courses on fashion designing, music & culture, as also hospitality & retail. The classes for these are held at the Chinar 9 Jawan Club, a campus of the Indian army in Baramulla.

Simultaneously, with Kojics Foundation, Reacha aims to make the full benefits of coding available to children, by educating school-teachers in coding at Baramulla (and other parts of India) in an effort to upskill children and prepare them for 21st century. This course also aligns with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, which has identified coding as a core skill for the future. 

The fashion designing course is designed exclusively for women, whereby Reacha is contributing to ‘Goal 5: Gender Equality’ too.

These interventions through skill development courses are being implemented with the aim of dissuading the Kashmiri youth from getting enmeshed in militancy, by empowering them to be a part of the national mainstream.

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However, implementing these programmes has been challenging for Reacha, as Baramulla is a conflict zone, where militant and antinational activities have been prevalent. However, Reacha, in consultation with Indian Army and local staff, has devised innovative solutions to continue the activities under the project.

Often, even after being trained, the youth do not prefer to move out of the state. Those who were placed in different parts of India, were soon found leaving their jobs, because they were not able to adjust in other places or due to low remuneration resulting from their lower education qualification. 

To address this issue, Reacha has initiated an innovative ‘Cell for Livelihood Enhancement’ (CLE) with the help of Genpact & NASSCOM Foundation. This initiative aims to make livelihood prospects more sustainable, by forming Self Help Groups (SHGs)/group enterprises and giving them additional training (if required) or by providing the youth scholarships and helping them to find placements. The SHGs have enabled beneficiaries of vocational training courses to not only become job seekers, but also job providers.

Since the inception of skill development courses in 2016 and later with initiation of Cell for Livelihood Enhancement in 2018, there have been significant outcome for the programmes.

These ideas and efforts of team Reacha in implementing the projects has been bearing fruits. Baramulla has seen lesser incidences of stone pelting and infiltration and the Kashmiri youth can be seen motivated to join the courses after witnessing positive changes in lives and livelihoods of their mates and their families. 

The feeling of alienation among the youth in Baramulla has now lessened. Kashmiri women have realised their potential and have moved from a state of being under patriarchal control to a one of liberation and empowerment. They have also started motivating male members to move towards constructive work. 

“Reacha has contributed in mainstreaming the school dropouts, drug addicts as well as youth from radicalised areas of Baramulla during challenging times,” acknowledge the army officials.

The projects at Chinar 9 Jawan Club, Baramulla, received national recognition when ONGC won the FICCI CSR Award 2018 for its unending support to this nation-building initiative. In November 2019, ONGC received the National Media Conclave (NMC) Award 2019 under the category Best CSR Project for Women Development, from Institute of Media Studies, Utkal University, Odisha, and Information & Broadcasting Ministry, government of India, for implementing socio-economic empowerment programmes, through skill development initiatives.

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