It was a celebration for a milestone achievement and a great honour. Five students from Amrita SANKALP centres throughout India were invited to the Republic Day event in Delhi organised by India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). They met with Hon’ble Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, alongside officials from the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
The women who participated included Bindhu A, Self-Employed Tailor, Sooranad, Kerala; Raji, Self-Employed Tailor, Adinad, Kerala; Mayamol BB, Self-Employed Tailor, Alappuzha, Kerala; Chitra Devi Balamurugan, Beauty Therapist, Palamedu, Tamil Nadu; and Jyotirmayee Sahoo, Mushroom Grower, Brahmanipal, Odisha.
SANKALP stands for ‘Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion’. It aims to empower women and transgender people through vocational training in a variety of trades, especially in rural areas. With the skills learned, students gain the confidence they need to start their own businesses.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham (Amrita University) was sanctioned by the Govt of India to implement SANKALP under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav—AVASAR, an initiative of MSDE in collaboration with the World Bank. Amrita SANKALP was launched on the 1st of April 2022 with a total budget of ₹6.75 crore ($800,000).
Amrita has established training centres in six states—Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh. Thus far, the total number of candidates enrolled is 4468, with 3658 trained and 3620 certified.
Chitra Devi is one of the many success stories. She faced financial hardships due to her husband’s sporadic work and history of alcoholism. Through Amrita SANKALP, she received free beautician training.
By dedication and with social support and encouragement from her teachers and fellow students, she honed her skills and built her confidence. Following graduation, Chitra Devi was able to quickly find employment, did well, and gradually opened her own beauty shop in the village.
“Now I am super happy with my business, and have become the most famous beautician in my village for bridal make up. In my beauty shop, I am happy to see the same customers regularly for hair colour, haircut, eyebrow threading, and facials,” says Chitra Devi.
“Who I am today is all because of the Amrita SANKALP Project. My sincere thanks to Amma for her blessing that created self-confidence within me to start this business.”
Amrita’s Center for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (CWEGE) is leading the Amrita SANKALP project. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural India grappled with unparalleled challenges, including economic distress, widespread job losses, and heightened social discrimination that exacerbated existing vulnerabilities.
Women and transgender people were hit especially hard as job opportunities dwindled, pushing them further into economic uncertainty. The transgender community, already marginalised, faced heightened discrimination, making it even harder to secure employment or access social services.
Amrita SANKALP supports its students with the primary objective to empower them economically and promote their leadership development, making a significant step towards fostering a more inclusive and prosperous society.
Now I am super happy with my business, and have become the most famous beautician in my village for bridal make up.Chitra Devi
The project mainly focuses on training and certifying Self-Help Group (SHG) members in a vocational trade. Enabling the development of collective enterprises, the SHGs can then form businesses or entrepreneurial ideas based on their acquired skill sets, thus enhancing their functioning and efficiency.
Participants are enthusiastically embarking on their chosen paths, engaging in specialised training for diverse job roles which include organic farming, mushroom cultivation, seaweed cultivation, tailoring, hand embroidery, beauty therapy, general duty assistance, and beekeeping. Graduates are able to receive MSDE certification and guidance by the University to form collective enterprises.
The approach offers an enriched model of vocational education and training structured to empower groups and individuals not only economically, but also socially, and psychologically. It integrates vital components such as life enrichment education, entrepreneurship development, digital literacy, SHG leadership, and governance.
The goal is clear: to sustain the newfound skills and knowledge and to continue building on the foundations laid to support these individuals in their ongoing journey towards socio-economic empowerment. By providing support, guidance, and mentorship, Amrita SANKALP aims to nurture a culture of sustained progress and economic independence.