Ansar-VDP: Securing the Take-off

--AKM Mizanur Rahman

4.

Bangladesh is on the runway to ‘take-off. The consistent flow of remittance, the efficient ‘catch-up’ of the Readymade Garments market, the unbelievable bank ability of the rural women and the silent agricultural revolution are playing as the major wheelers of the long cherished ‘take-off for Bangladesh. The challenge remains with making the ‘take-off safe, secured and sustainable.

Skill The Number One Challenge

In global job market skill is now the ‘key to catch. The changing age structure of the peonies both of the developed and the developing countries has divulged an unprecedented avenue to matching amongst peoples in sharing of the needs and returns. The earth has unfolded unthinkable challenges and opportunities for the entire population of the globe to go for a more ‘matching world’

The globe has now been set with seven billion human beings. The global distribution of workforce has taken a new dimension due to some inevitable outcomes of ‘aging’ in the developed countries and ‘demographic transition’ taking place in many of the developing countries. Countries crossing the phase of ‘demographic transition’ are In added advantage to capture the burgeoning labor markets of the developed world.

Human resource development at the grassroots level has been one of the major activities of Bangladesh Ansar and Village Defence Party (VDP), for more than three decades. The organization has a unique advantage of having fifty percent women members out of its 5.9 million volunteer members. Ansar-VDP also has another unique feature of having a specialized bank named Ansar-VDP Unnayan Bank capable of supporting the trained and skilled workers to go for competing in global job markets.

4.1

To catch up the unveiling opportunity in the global job market Ansar-VDP has shifted its focus from awareness to skill development. Side by side with the conventional trainings Ansar-VDP has introduced a joint venture training course in collaboration with BGMEA. The course is being organized by Ansar-VDP Academy with technical support from BGMEA. The centre is going to grow skilled manpower in knitting and sewing having very high demand both in national and global job markets.

Anser-VDP has also recently established six technical training centers to impart technical training of global standard to the members both men and women for overseas employment. The expeted annual turn up of skilled workers is 3500. They will earn skill in areas like welding, painting, refrigeration, automobile, mobile phone repairing, computer hardware engineering, etc. Ansar-VDP also has designed to jointly organized along with BRTA a high quality driving course.

In order to develop skill of the members in IT related jobs Ansar-VDP has recently established more than 20 Computer Training Centers (CTC). These centers will be able to train about 10000 male and female members and develop their skill to enable them to work as data entry operators for any international organization.

 

The policy response of Ansar-VDP hopefully can bring about some differences in the existing level of skill of the workers seeking employment overseas from Bangladesh. The greatest advantage of Ansar-VDP is the long experience of the organization to make people respectful to compliance in the society. In the global job market the willingness and ability to compliance with rules and time schedule along with desired skill may become a key to success.

Lifelines Of The Rmg Sector

The single most important wheeler of the economy of Bangladesh is the Readymade Garments Sector which accounts for about 78% of foreign exchange earnings and generated employment opportunity for 3.6 million workers mostly women. By now about 5400 RMG industries have been set up to bring in no less than twenty billion USD. The past three decades witnessed an unbelievable performance of the women and girls from the rural areas to build up the RMG sector of Bangladesh.

It is known to all that the RMG sector started its formal journey in the year 1978. The Women Ansar Platoons the Village Defence Party were raised in the year 1976 and took a formal shape during late eighties. Two Vocational Training Institutes, one at Kolakopa and the other at Gazlpur, dedicated to train only women members of Ansar and VDP were set up at the same time. Retired Commandant of VTC Kolakopa Mr. Kazl Anwar Hossain says, “the representatives of the newly set up RMG Industries used to wait at the gate of the VTCs to get the trained women to employ in their factories”. Women workers were not easily available during the commencement of the RMG industries. A huge number of trained Ansar-VDP members contributed largely to sail the RMG sector in Bangladesh. Still they are continuing with their efforts. Recently a MOU was signed between BGMEA and Ansar-VDP to organize need based training for the women members to develop their skill to match with global standard. In fact, Ansar-VDP unlocked the door for the rural women to come out of their traditional mindset and to earn the skill to join the most potential sector of the time.

Ansar Bahini is also ensuring security of the 8MG sector. Many of the RMG industries are being guarded by the embodied Ansars. About 3000 embodied Ansars are maintaining security of RMG industries. Besides all the EPZs are being secured by embodied Ansars which facilitate a huge number of RMG industries to operate in a safe and peaceful environment. The main harbor of RMG export is the Chittagong Port where security is being looked after by 1111 embodied Ansars. All of these embodied Ansars are Joking after everyday security issues of the RMG sector in Bangladesh. They exist just like air we live within but not really feeling the existence.

Ansar Bahini has a great unnoticed advantage in ensuring security and order in the 8MG industries. The advantage is hidden with the fact that many of the 8MG workers had been members of either Ansar Bahini or Village Defence Party and most of them have Village Based ‘top training of short duration. Peace and order In 8MG sector can further be augmented and guarded through an Institutional bridging between workers and the Ansars on duty. It is also possible to form volunteer platoons of RMG workers for disaster management and peacekeeping. Many of the challenges and threats of the 8MG sector can be sidestepped by these platoons of disciplined workers.

Ansar-VDP has recently introduced fire fighting training for the Ansars supported by the Directorate of Fire Service. All basic training courses of Ansars has built-In modules of fire control and unarmed combating (Butthan). The impacts of these policy response are yet to be divulged. Embodied Ansars are expected to perform more confidently in the days to come to ensure safety and security of the RMG sector.

Micro Credit

Ansar-VDP Unnayan Bank was set up through an Act in 1995 as a specialized Micro Credit Bank for the welfare of the members of Ansar-VDP. This is a bank of the members, for the members and by the members of Ansar-VDP. About 2.6 million members so far have purchased shares of the bank. At present about 199 branches are operating with micro-credit for the trained members. With very limited capacity this Bank has extended loans to more than 2,00,000 members. Performance of the Bank is impressive. The recovery rate stands at about 98%

The bank has been able to bring about qualitative changes in the lives of many members of the organization who were leading a very marginalized economic life. Training leads to income’ is the lesson we have learned from the Bank. The bank is suffering from dearth of capital. The linkage between skill, overseas employment and micro-credit is yet to be formalized. This linkage might escalate the amount of inflow of remittances. Things are on the way. Ansar-VDP has also the potential to run a recruiting agency for overseas employment with efficient management of both forward and backward linkages.

Village Based Training

Traditionally people comes to the training centers for undergoing any kind of training. Ansar-VDP thought the other way. Resource persons from all the nation building departments like A9riculture, Family Planning, Poultry and Livestock. Public Health, Women Affairs, Fisheries, Police and Administration go to the village to train the Ansar-VDP members. Most of the members are found to be engaged in some kind of agro-based economic activities. They are better informed about their day to day business after getting in touch with the resource persons of respective disciplines. Ansar-VDP took the training to 64 members (2 X Platoons of 32 each: one male and one female) in every village for the following reasons:

r           Easily accessible for the members to get the training at their own village;

r           It is also convenient for the nation-building departments to get organized members In a place to motivate and counsel;

r           The trainees get their Daily Allowances in cash;

r           The women members need not to move far from their house;

r           Easy to reach the hard-to-reach people (especially 50% women);

r           Villagers not covered also come in touch and learn something;

r           A positive impact on the village life;

r           Members are identified and known to all the villagers;

r           Bridge between Government Agencies and the people.

So far about 3.9 million members were trained since 1995. Findings from few academic research revealed some significant positive impacts of these training upon behavioral patterns of the members. Social peace has become a vital agenda in both urban and rural areas. Two platoons of Ansar-VDP are expected to guard the village against terrorism, conflict, domestic violence, illiteracy, unhygienic defecation, child marriage, poverty and drug abuse. They together can make the change.

There had been a time when one Constable or Ansar was enough to tackle any situation in the rural settings. But now a days without group effort and favorable public opinion it has become difficult to ensure peace, the most desirable condition for any kind of economic activities to flourish. They can also support management of cooperative/joint farming in rural areas. The village based training is the silent guardian of peace essential for the ‘take off’ in rural Bangladesh.

Concusion

May we get a closer look of this organization to know it better to make the runway to ‘take off’ safer for Bangladesh. Ansar and Village Defence Party needs nothing more than a little more attention of those who matters. No country has an organization like Ansar-VDP. This is the number one problem and ironically also the number one strength of Ansar-VDP. Unique problems of the soil may be solved by a unique organization. Let’s think with little more concern.