Does ‘PM Vishwakarma’ scheme promote ‘Caste System’?

The ‘PM Vishwakarma’ scheme aims at improving the quality and reach of the products and services of artisans and craftspeople who are named here as ‘Vishwakarmas’. Vishwakarma denotes caste that includes five sub-castes namely carpenters, blacksmiths, brass smiths, sculptors and goldsmiths.

This scheme covers 18 trades including (i) Carpenter (Suthar); (ii) Boat Maker; (iii) Armourer; (iv) Blacksmith (Lohar); (v) Hammer and Tool Kit Maker; (vi) Locksmith; (vii) Goldsmith (Sonar); (viii) Potter (Kumhaar); (ix) Sculptor (Moortikar, stone carver), Stone breaker; (x) Cobbler(Charmkar)/ Shoesmith/Footwear artisan; (xi) Mason (Rajmistri); (xii) Basket/Mat/Broom Maker/Coir Weaver; (xiii) Doll & Toy Maker (Traditional); (xiv) Barber (Naai); (xv) Garland maker (Malakaar); (xvi) Washerman (Dhobi); (xvii) Tailor (Darzi); and (xviii) Fishing Net Maker.

The ‘PM Vishwakarma’ scheme comes under the Central Sector Scheme fully funded by the Government of India with an initial outlay of Rs.13,000 crore. The objective of this scheme is to enable the recognition of family-based traditional people by providing them with skill upgradation opportunities, and support for better and modern tools. It also provides a platform for brand promotion and market linkages to help them access new growth opportunities.

The scheme provides an option to upgrade the skills of the registered candidates. The beneficiaries are first verified by the Head of Gram Panchayats and Executive Heads of Urban local bodies. They will ascertain that the beneficiary has been traditionally engaged in the trade on a self-employment basis. Their existing skill levels are also verified. The guidelines of this scheme mention three stages of verification.

The second stage of verification is done by the District Implementation Committee and the third stage is approval by the Screening Committee. The beneficiaries are provided with basic training of 40 hours, over 5-7 days, and advanced skill training of 120 hours over 15 days are provided. The beneficiaries are paid Rs.500 per day as a stipend while undergoing basic and advanced training sessions.

They are provided with Rs.1 lakh loan initially and up to Rs.2 lakh as a second loan tranche with an interest rate of 5%. In addition, Rs.15,000 as a toolkit incentive is provided after skill verification and at the start of basic training. To enhance the digital payment method, Rs.1 per eligible digital transaction is provided every month.

However, this scheme concentrates only on those who are engaged in family-based traditional trades. “These skills or occupations are passed from generation-to-generation following a guru-shishya model of traditional training, both within the families and other informal groups of artisans and craftspeople”, mentions the scheme guidelines.

This scheme is aimed to preserve cultural practices, generational skills and guru-shishya parampara, hence clearly promoting family-based business which in turn would promote the caste system. When the entire country is struggling to eradicate the caste system, this new scheme promotes the caste system subtly. Social media users criticise the scheme, claiming that caste system is being adopted in place of the education system that we have gained over the years and that as it advances, this scheme appears to regress society.


Please complete the required fields.

Back to top button