Skill development, as a growing project in India, has seen various developments with major funding projects and events being held surrounding the need for focus on the sector. With a large budget being pledged to its support, establishment of ministries for the same and collaborative events such as India International Skill Development Summit on the horizon, India is finally on track of recognising the importance of training its workforce. Taking a step further, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs in India, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, announced the need for training programmes among other reforms for prisons at the Fifth National Conference of Heads of Prisons of States and Union Territories on Prison Reforms. The two-day workshop that will conclude today, was inaugurated by Ahir. He took the opportunity to discuss and bring forward a range of propositions for reforms in the prison system.
Attendees of the conference were heads of the prison departments of States and Union Territories and also superintendents from central and district jails, with representatives from universities, students of criminology and law and non-governmental organisations also taking part as audience and speakers. Issues such as overcrowding of jails and road to rehabilitation for prisoners were raised. Ahir suggested, “Inmates can be imparted training in vocations like farming, sericulture, beekeeping, fisheries and animal husbandry so that they can be rehabilitated and reintegrated with the society.”
All India Radio, the national public radio broadcaster in India, shared the highlight on social media platform Twitter
— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) September 29, 2016
Ahir added that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India programme (launched in 2015 that subsequently led to further initiatives) must be adopted by prison administration authorities.
Following other systems
Other countries across Europe like Norway offer skill training, which is considered as a part of education, to prisoners as constitutional rights. “The education legislation does not distinguish between education offered at a correctional facility and in the community. In principle, the same courses are offered in prisons as in the community, and the teachers have the same level of competence,” states a directive report by GHK for Directorate General for Education and Culture, European Commission. Indian prisons such as the historic Tihar jail in New Delhi have offered their own programmes aimed at providing skills and training to prisoners in an attempt to equip them with abilities that would help them in reintegrating in society and making contributions once released. Even while in prison, the training can help engage in activities that produce an output. However, a comprehensive skill development programme for prisons where the proposed sectors are covered is yet to be seen.
The announcement by Ahir can turn out as a positive news if the propositions are implemented. With organisations such as Europe India Foundation for Excellence (EIFE) organising India International Skill Development Summit, later this year, attempts are being made to explore the opportunities and challenges for skill development in India. Skilling in India remains a challenge in general and is highly needed but when applied to prisons, it addresses a deeper social question on how a society seeks to deal with its criminals.