In what could be well be a new opening for unleashing the potential of the deaf people population in India and also a definitive trendsetter for shaping their roles in managerial and entrepreneurial roles, Centum Foundation, the CSR arm of training company Centum Learning, a subsidiary of Bharti Group has in collaboration with US-based Global Reach Out (GRO) set up a centre for imparting leadership and other skills to the deaf holding a degree. The first of its kind centre was inaugurated in New Delhi on February 24. GRO is a non-profit organization run by Deaf individuals, which has already imparted leadership skills and entrepreneurial training to over 1,000 deaf youth across India, Kenya, Guatemala, Honduras, and Thailand.
Dr. Madan M. Vasishta, former Chief Advisor to the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre, New Delhi and Sanjeev Duggal, CEO and MD, Centum Learning inaugurated the first center. Aarti Chandna, Vice President, Centum Foundation, Dr. Alim Chandani, Associate VP, Centum GRO and senior management from prospective employers such as Lemon Tree, Concentrix, etc. were also present on the occasion. Incidentally, Dr. Alim Chandani will head the first center located at Hauz khas. Dr. Chandani has dedicated himself to working towards empowering deaf people for over a decade now.
Dr. Madan M. Vasishta, said, “This initiative will not only help them to access jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities but will also boost their morale and confidence. This will also strengthen the social fabric of our society as a whole.”
The initiative has the blessings of Bharti Group chairman, Sunil Mittal, whose Bharti Airtel is funding it. Dr. Alim Chandani then in USA a few years ago had approached Mr Mittal for supporting such an empowering imitative. Briefing the media Sanjeev Duggal, CEO and MD, Centum Learning said that after this he was introduced to the idea and Dr. Alim Chandan. “Today is the fructification of this idea and all the discussion and preparation we did for close to two years. There are approximately 12 million deaf people in India, 80% of who have no access to any formal education. But for those who receive formal education, there is a lull after that. We are aiming to provide that last mile connect through soft skills training and entrepreneurship skills empowering young deaf adults. It is indeed a memorable day for us,” he adds.
The pilot batch has already commenced with training underway of nearly 40 students who are graduates from various streams. Besides skills training to the deaf candidates, the program will also include ‘workplace sensitivity’ training sessions to potential employers to help companies assimilate people with disabilities more effectively at their workplaces. In the second year of operation, Centum GRO plans to develop and create the first entrepreneurial training program for the deaf community to nurture future entrepreneurs.
Dr. Alim Chandani, AVP, Centum GRO, added, “This initiative is a great stepping stone towards encouraging deaf youth in India to be innovative and self-reliant. Our long-term plan is to make them future entrepreneurs by providing them high-quality leadership, management and entrepreneurship skills training in a focused empowering environment which will collectively equip them to become ‘Changemakers’.”
Besides providing much-needed leadership and management skills to deaf youth through this initiative, Centum Foundation will also facilitate jobs and encourage self-entrepreneurship. The training, which will vary from one to three months, is being offered under four segments: Multimedia, Accounting, BPO/DEO, and IT. The minimum eligibility criterion is a Bachelor’s degree (B.A., BFA, B.Com, etc).
Centum GRO’s proprietary training program is being designed and implemented by deaf experts from the United States. The experts partnering with peers identified in India will share best practices in leadership and management skills and start-up enterprise management with participants of the program. The training model has four components – Educating, Preparing, Training, and Sustaining – where visual aids and multimedia resources are used to enhance visual learning for participants. The program is being funded by Bharti Airtel.