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Agra university plans uplift of ‘men of metal’

The long neglected nomadic ironsmiths or ‘gadiya lohar’ in the Taj city can now hope for a better life, courtesy Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, which is planning to bring them into the mainstream of society.

lucknow Updated: Nov 28, 2017 16:36 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Agra university,Master of Social Works,Men of metal
The university is working on a pilot project for their rehabilitation through various government schemes and is also planning to arrange for education of children belonging to this deprived community.(HT Photo)

The long neglected nomadic ironsmiths or ‘gadiya lohar’ in the Taj city can now hope for a better life, courtesy Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, which is planning to bring them into the mainstream of society through skill development programmes, apart from giving them access to housing and education.

These ‘gadiya lohar’ or ‘loh-pita’ (blacksmiths), who move from place to place in search of livelihood, are said to have a historical past and it is said their ancestors chose this nomadic lifestyle of their own volition. Earlier, they fashioned swords and javelins but with changing times, they now make axes, kitchen ware and iron tools. But the community still adheres to the old life style and can be found on the pavements during transit.

Ironically, while most other tribes have progressed, this community still languishes at the bottom.

The university is working on a pilot project for their rehabilitation through various government schemes and is also planning to arrange for education of children belonging to this deprived community. Through the project it aims to address problems like illiteracy, low income generation and use of obsolete technology in economic activities .

“We will begin by preparing a pilot project and conduct a survey about the status of these deprived families who live a nomadic life and settle on the road side while moving from one city to another. They work hard with their obsolete instruments to make iron tools and are yet to join the mainstream of society,” said Dr Girija Shankar, spokesperson of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar University.

The university’s attention was drawn towards these iron smiths during preparations for its convocation scheduled in December, because a number of such ironsmiths are stationed along the outer wall of the university campus in Khandari, which encloses the venue for the convocation.

A close look at their plight gave the varsity administration the idea to work towards their uplift.

“We are working on possible measures which include education for children of these iron smiths, who can be part of the Modern School run by the university. They can be given access to various government schemes, including housing and their skill can be used as skill development initiative of the university. Various departments and faculties in the varsity can play an active role in this initiative,” said Dr Girija Shankar.

“Dr Arvind Dixit, vice chancellor of Dr BR Ambedkar University, is relying on departments, particularly those of sociology and social science, conducting courses like MSW (Master of Social Works) for taking up the cause as social responsibility of the university,” he said.

First Published: Nov 28, 2017 16:36 IST