09/25/2010, 00.00
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Salesians offer training to young people to save them from Maoist guerrillas

by Santosh Digal
At the request of Paschim Medinipur district magistrate, the Salesians have organized training courses for young people without a job. The attempt is to provide them with the skills necessary to resist Maoist influence.

Kolkata (AsiaNews) - In Calcutta the Salesians are organizing training courses for young people without a job. All of them come from the district of Paschim Medinipur, West Bengal, a Maoist-dominated area. The request, made approximately seven months ago, came from Narayan Swaroop Nigam, district magistrate, to set up training courses for young men and women in different professional fields at the Self-Employment Research Institute (SERI) in Calcutta. The cost of three months training plus housing is borne entirely by the local government. After the course, the administration itself is responsible for providing jobs for these young people, both inside and outside Paschim Medinipur district. Currently, two groups - each consisting of about 100 children - have already completed basic training, while a third is being set up.

The goal is to provide training on several levels. Father Sunil Kerketta reveals: "We not only provide professional training, but also build and form their character so that they would be productive and responsible citizens who could work for their society and communities. It is they who could bring the social change and development as enlighten people taking the path of prosperity, peace and denounce violence in any form”.

The aim of the project is twofold. With it the local government hopes to decrease the level of unemployment among young people, and weaken the Maoist influence in the area. Most of these children are marginalized, illiterate, poor, thus easy prey of the Maoist movement, which recruits youngsters by offering them employment opportunities. As Fr. Jude Sebastian points out: "Once they are educated and have necessary skills for the earning through their jobs, they would be less likely join Maoists groups”.

he Maoists are active in many parts of India, particularly in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The government in New Delhi considers the guerrillas a threat to the country because of the many attacks carried out in recent years at a cost of hundreds of lives.

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