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School Dropouts Stage Public Awareness Drama

By K.A. Thomas, SDB
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Kolkata, Dec. 4. .   Sadiya:  Karsang Takar, the empowerment centre for school dropouts, concluded its trainings for its 12th batch of 20 students on 1 Dec. 2013, at Santipur, Sadiya, with the staging of a social drama ''Joutuk''.  It was a farewell moment during which they imparted also valuable lessons to the public on the evils of dowry system.
The farewell function for the public of Santipur, Sadiya, organized by the staff and students of Karsang Takar, meaning 'rising star' in Mising, started at 5.30 pm. The chief guest of the evening was Mr. Dilip Bora, additional DGP Fire Force, Assam. Present along with him were the local SDO Dr. S. Lakshmanan IAS and his wife Lakshmi, SDPO Vivekananda Das and Mr. Sandip Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Roing, Arunachal Pradesh.

In his introductory speech, Mr. Rajen Perme, the director of Karsang Takar, mentioned that the institution has been serving the Mising community for the past 12 years and bringing change in the Mising society. Every year, he said, the institution accepts 20 young men and women between the ages of 15 to 25, and puts them through intensive training in skills and practice for personal, community, social, cultural and spiritual development.

Fr. Thomas, the director of Institution for Culture And Rural Development (I-CARD) of which Karsang Takar is the cradle, said ''no other institution or NGO has done such  yeoman's task as I-CARD. It has trained 225 school dropouts so far, and made them into cultural ambassadors and social change makers. The students have so far performed in Sangeet Natak Akademy, New Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, Santiniketan, Kolkata, and presently they have been invited to Benares, Uttar Pradesh. Although they are school dropouts, they have brought attitudinal changes in 380 Mising villages during their second year of training.''  Fr. Thomas added that no community should sit back saying they are poor. They need to recognize their inner strength and work for their own development.  

The Additional Director General of Police, Mr. Dilip Bora, talked about his own experiences working with young people and congratulated Mr. Rajen Perme for such incomparable and humanitarian service of training school dropouts.  He too wished that communities do not lay back saying they are poor, but should rely on their inner vitality and traditional wealth. ''Every community needs leaders like Rajen Perme'', he emphasized.

The main programme of the evening was an Assamese drama, Joutuk, written and directed by Mr. Rajen Perme, centering around the theme of dowry. The story is based on Mising culture about the new dangers arising in society. The outgoing students of Karsang Takar were trained by Mr. Rajen Perme, and they put up a superb performance as a farewell gift to the packed audience hailing from Santipur and Chapakhowa. This was the culmination of an year long training unexpected from school dropouts.

Dr. Lakshmanan IAS, the SDO of Sadiya, was all praises for Rajen Perme and his wife Indira for transforming rural rustic youth into professional actors and performers. He has promised all support to make sustainable this venture of training school dropouts. ''if there is any institution worth visiting in Sadiya, it is Karsang Takar'', he said. ''It is absolutely a stunning experience.''

Modus Operandi

Karsang Takar was a novel idea mooted by Fr. Thomas Kalapurackal, director of I-CARD, and for which he received the Ashoka Innovators for the Public fellowship in 2002. The program is managed by and housed in the residence of Mr. Rajen Perme and his wife Indira Perme who is currently the Panchayat President of Shantipur. Rajen Perme is at once a playwright, a songster, a professional trainer and a cultural expert.

After one year of training with Karsang Takar, the young change makers are assigned to 40 new villages by I-CARD for a period of six months, in a sort of field experience or internship. The students interact with the village people, make friends with them, have awareness programmes through street theatre dramas, start youth groups and SHGs in every village and also identify leaders who can form the Agency for Rural Development Action (ARDA), a subsidiary body of I-CARD, covering 380 villages of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. I-CARD is  proud to say that the entire work of identifying and bringing attitudinal changes in these 380 villages is done by school dropouts.

After six months in the second year, the young dropouts are given opportunities to undergo training in vocational skills of their choice. For this I-CARD has started a vocational training center in Sadiya planning for industrial and agricultural training cum production. The planned trades are carpentry, motor mechanics, electrical, driving, welding, electronics, tailoring, beautician, integrated farming, feed production, rubber nursery, poultry besides agricultural praxis.  I-CARD waits for generous individuals and organizations to support its endeavours to uplift this marginalized community.

These school dropouts, trained by I-CARD are the main players, actors, singers, ground workers and volunteers at ethnique fest, which happens in the first weekend of January every year at Life Plus Baghchung, Jorhat.
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