No prisoner in Tihar will be left jobless,” says Nitin Khandelwal, chairman, All India Gem And Jewellery Domestic Council (GJC). This nodal agency of the gems and jewellery industry, along with Gem and Jewellery Skill Council of India (GJSCI), is providing inmates of Tihar Central Jail, New Delhi, with professional training in jewellery designing. Khandelwal says that the idea is to ensure that while the prisoners are still in jail, they can learn the craft which will help them procure a decent job, a peaceful livelihood and a respectful life, once they are free.
Khandelwal, who believes that not everyone who is serving a jail term is a criminal, informs that the initiative is for the inmates of Tihar Central Jail No-5 where a batch of about 40 prisoners are being given a one-month training in the certificate course. “In a lot of batches in jails, inmates are in the age group of 18 to 21 years and they have an entire life before them. There are some who haven’t been tried in court and not proven guilty, but the stigma that comes with serving a jail term often pushes them to darkness resulting from people not willing to offer them jobs. Hence we are trying to give them a new hope by teaching them to earn a living while in jail and even after they complete their term,” says Khandelwal who says that Anju Mangla, the first female superintendent of a men’s prison in Tihar Jail, supported the initiative.
When asked about the response that the initiative is getting, Khandelwal says that the prisoners were overwhelmed when they came to know that someone is trying to make their lives better within the confines of the jail.
“The programme has immensely helped the inmates to relieve stress, and banish the temptation to return to a life of crime once they are out of prison because now they have the skills and experience to support themselves. Earlier, GJSCI, in which GJC is a stakeholder, signed an MOU with Delhi Prison for the ‘Tihar Women Inmates Skilling’, which aims at teaching jewellery making to the women inmates of Tihar Jail,” says Khandelwal.
The initiative also provides them with remuneration which is on par with industry standards and is being deposited in their name. The prisoners are employed in the jail to design imitation jewellery which has a huge demand in the present time. “Each one of us has a certain skill, so do these prisoners and they are enthusiastic about learning something new. Some of them surprised us with their honesty and precision in designing the ornaments. Many are even willing to continue working in this field later in life and we are more than happy to employ them. However, to become a professional jewellery designer and meet market demands, they need to learn CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator to understand the nuances of this intricate art for which we are planning to provide them with computers in jail,” says Khandelwal.
GJC is also joining hands with The National Skill Development Corporation to further help sharpen the inmates’ skills.