The Other Face of Army

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One of the mangers at Taj Vivanta, who is not authorized to speak to media, said the hotel would prefer hiring local staff for services and food processing, “Outsiders demand more money as compared to the local staff. We have seen these boys who came through training working hard and they understand the local culture and add color to the hotel.”

After the success of the program, the Army and IHMCT decided to rent a house for Rs 22,000 per month in Bandi where the training for the boys was started immediately after the first batch passed.

The idea of opening the training faculty center came in May last year when additional secretary of tourism, Government of India, visited Kashmir. Commander 161 brigade, GS Rawat says the challenge was to accommodate the boys who were not educated enough. “There is great demand for the skilled force in hotel industry in valley. So we decided we would train boys in those areas where there was less availability of professional work force.”

“I asked the secretary tourism what he could do for Uri region where education among the boys was very less because of different reasons. We decided to open this training center and the results are in front of you. People are happy,” he says.

Trainees attending a session at Army run training centre in Bandi --Photo: Ashiq Mir

Trainees attending a session at Army run training centre in Bandi –Photo: Ashiq Mir

In the second batch, 56 out of 60 got jobs in hotels like Broadway, Taj Vivanta and the recently opened Khyber Resorts in Gulmarg, apart from the many other places in the state and outside. After the trainees get basic training in Bandi, the IHMCT in Srinagar takes them to their facility in Srinagar where they get an on-the-job training for almost 15 days. The placement cell of IHMCT works in consultation with different agencies to place these boys in different hotels and agencies.

“Ishrat Sahib in IHMCT, who is in-charge of the placement cell, helped me a lot in getting the job. He instilled confidence in me that I can compete with people who had come from Mumbai and Delhi and I got a job in Vivanta,” says Tanveer Ahmad, who has been working in the five star hotel from a couple of months now.

IHMCT Principle Aftab Ahmad Bandai says that although they run the program throughout Kashmir and even in Leh, ‘but the one being operated from Bandi has been one of the most successful one because of interest take by Bridadier G S Rawat’. “IHMCT has already completed the training of 2500 students. We will complete the target of 3500 by March this year. The peaceful atmosphere in valley had brought more tourists into the valley which means there will be more demand in the hospitality sector. We think that even for next five years, even if we train people at this speed, almost all of them would be accommodated in the valley.”

“No single politician has provided employment to more than 200 people in one year in Uri. We highly appreciate the efforts put in by the Army to help us in overcoming the problem of unemployment,” says a local politician.

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