The schemes would give opportunity to unemployed youths to become the ‘government’s friends’ in promoting solar energy, health, tourism and banking sectors.
The Centre will induct 10 lakh youths as “friends of government” ahead of the 2019 general election through its “Mitra” (friends) schemes which would give opportunity to unemployed youths to become the “government’s friends” in promoting the solar energy, health, tourism and banking sectors and earn a livelihood.
The “Mitra” scheme is an extension of the Narendra Modi government’s own “Kisan Mitra” scheme that is a network of people who help in promoting sustainable development in agriculture and techniques. “Kisan Mitras” carry out advocacy for the rights and entitlements of farmers.
However, “Kisan Mitras” are a forum of agricultural experts; members of the Bank Mitra (bank friends), Surya Mitra (Sun friends) Swasthya Mitra (health friends) and Paryatan Mitra (tourism friends) schemes can be any ordinary youth of the country.
A senior official who was part of the “Mitra” schemes drafting committee told The Sunday Guardian: “The friends of the government schemes are run by different departments of the Union ministries and currently, the Mitra schemes are operational in the banking, solar energy and tourism sectors.”
“The Bank Mitra (bank friends) helps customers in availing various banking services, including cash deposit/withdrawal, issuing Kisan credit card, selling insurance products/mutual funds, opening pension accounts, and running bill payments services,” the same official cited above said.
“So far, 1.26 lakh youths have become bank friends across the country and their core work is to promote inclusive banking. Any person, who is in the age group of 18-25 years old, can become a bank friend. These bank friends will be paid to the tune of Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 per month. Also, these bank friends can avail a loan up to Rs 1.25 lakh for purchasing bikes, laptops, printers, and scanners for running micro ATMs in the rural areas of the country,” the official cited above said.
Similarly, the Surya Mitras (Sun friends) would work to promote the use of solar energy in the country, while the Swasthya Mitras (health friends) would be trained to promote the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. The Paryatan Mitra (tourism friends) will be employed to promote the country’s tourism sector.
The government has already started training programmes for those willing to join the solar energy sector as Surya Mitras. The initial target of the government is to train 1 lakh youths as Surya Mitras, according to the draft proposal.
A senior official of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said: “The country has the potential to become a solar energy hub. The solar energy sector has attracted huge investments and many foreign companies have started operation of their solar plants. In such an environment, these ‘Sun friends’, after receiving a formal training, can fill the shortage of skilled workforce.”
According to the Centre’s plan, youth working under the “friends of government” schemeS will facilitate officials in their daily work and make policy implementation easy on the ground. These “friends” will run awareness programmes to make development more inclusive. The Modi government is also focusing on the training programme for “Health Mitras” to make the Ayushman Bharat scheme a big success. These “Health Mitras” will work as helping hands in carrying out an awareness programme. They will also help people in availing the benefits of the Ayushman Bharat scheme.