SRHU Vice-Chancellor Vijay Dhasmana: We will make the youth of the state self-reliant through Homestays

Ajay Ramola
GG News Bureau
Dehradun, 2nd June. Dr Vijay Dhasmana is the chairperson of Swami Rama Foundation of the USA, President of Swami Rama Nishkaam Karmyoga Trust, General Secretary of Sadhana Mandir Trust etc.

He is also the recipient of many prestigious awards including the ‘Garhwal Vibhuti Award’ for Social Service – 1998, Dr B.C. Roy Award’ in the field of Management – 2001, ‘Uttarakhand Ratna Award’ for his extraordinary work for the people of Uttarakhand – 2005.
Dr Dhasmana the Vice-Chancellor of Swami Rama Himalayan University, and a member of Presidential Body of Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust through various philanthropical work has worked all his life to provide and build the capacity of the youth so that they can be self-reliant and give impetus to the Atma Nirbhar Bharat mission that was envisaged by the Prime minister Narendra Modi.

He is PHD holder from Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, and a master’s in mathematics & a Masters in Statistics from HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar, Garhwal who has also attained his master’s in computer sciences from the University of London, United Kingdom.
Dr Dhasmana’s deep concern about the youth migration in the villages of Uttarakhand, made him set up the School for Vocational Studies and Skill Development at SRHU, to equip the youth of Uttarakhand with entrepreneurial skills and make them financially sustainable.
He was in conversation with the GG news correspondent and spoke candidly about his new project of empowering youths and making them self-reliant through homestay e at his prestigious Swami Rama Himalayan University in Uttarakhand. Here are the excerpts of the talks held with him telephonically….

Q.1. Sir you have not been sitting idle during the Covid curfew have started a new project of empowering the youth of the state. Kindly elaborate.
Ans. One of the tools to confront the Covid pandemic is to remain positive and occupied in the constructive works and with this intention, we at Swami Ram Himalayan University envisaged the project that would empower the talented youth that has returned back to their homes in the villages in the Himalayan region and engage them in the Homestay project thus contributing to Atmabharat mission a dream of PM Narendra Modi.

Q.2. How did the idea germinate?
Ans. Well, when I was in England, “I was fascinated to come across a Bed and breakfast scheme, where the upper flow of the residents lived on the ground floor and rented out the upper floor to tourists in the outskirts of London and other major cities. The residents provided a much cheaper stay along with food cooked at home for the tourists and it is from there I thought that if such kind of scheme ins implemented in the state of Uttarakhand it could help in changing the mindset of the people. After long research, we were able to start the scheme a few months back and already around 100 people have been trained to run homestays in their respective villages”.

Q.3. You are into academics so why you thought of diverging into the field of homestay or hospitality?
Ans. The focus of SRHU is not just to impart bookish knowledge to the youth and distribute degrees to them. Our aim is to prepare students in the direction where they are in tune with recognizing social needs. Our focus is on introducing courses through which youth can become self-reliant by doing their own business instead of jobs and become a source of inspiration for society.

Q.4. What were the challenges you faced initially?
Ans. Collecting the data of the homestays was a big challenge, so we roped in another organisation called Learnet Learnet Skills Limited a joint initiative of NSDC (National Skills Development Corporation) & Schoolnet India Limited that has begun the training of the youth at equipping them with the technical knowhow to run the homestays at SRHU. Presently the training is being imparted virtually to 100 youths from the state.

Q.5. How you plan to go about it?
Ans. Based on the experience of home-stay experts, a format of the course has been prepared. In the first batch, 100 youth have been trained in home-stay business and SRHU is providing free of cost training to these youths and has already spent more than 10 lakhs on their training. The target is to train 1000 youth in two years who then will go and convert their homestays and provide a healthy, clean, and organic alternative to the hospitality industry.

Q.6. How many youths are you targeting?
Ans. About 6500 youth will also get direct and indirect employment from the homestay business. The youths will be provided with added assistance and a business module. SRHU will help them in marketing their homestay units after the completion of the training. It will also help them in getting bank loans which is a cumbersome process so that they turn into a successful business community.

Q.7. What areas are you targeting for the homestay business?
Ans. According to our strategy, we will be training youths from Dehradun- Rishikesh, Mussoorie, Dehradun City, Jaunsar, Chakrata, Haridwar, Tehri, Dhanolti, Kanatal, Kempty Falls, Nag-Tibba, Devprayag, Khait Parvat, Buda Kedar, Tehri Lake, Chamba, Sem-Mukhem, Pauri, Dhari Devi, Tadkeshwar, Kanwasram, Kotdwar, Khirsu Uttarkashi, Yamunotri, Gangotri, Along Valley, Dayara Bugyal, Harsil, Barkot, Sankri, Har-Ki-Doon, Chinyali Saud, Rudraprayag- Kedarnath, Guptakashi, Gaurikund, Kalimath, Triyuginarayan, Chopta, Ukhimath, Chamoli-Badrinath, Hemkund, Pandukeshwar, Auli, Mana, Gairsan, Urgam Valley, Pithoragarh, MunsIyari, Chandak Hill, Kafni Glacier, AsKot, Didihat, Gangolihat, Nag Temple, Narayan Ashram, Kapileshwar Cave, Pithoragarh Fort etc. it is a unique blend of sites that have different geographical surroundings which can cater to the tastes of each tourist. Right from Arakot to Askot we have not left out any place that has the tourism potential. Our role will be as a facilitator and a guide for these youths and we want that this expertise should percolate through the length and breadth of the state.

Q. 8. With the Covid 19 pandemic the hygiene has become the topmost priority for the tourists so how are you planning to go about with it?
Ans. Good question. Medical sciences have been our expertise. The Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences (HIMS) is the first medical college run by us in the state of Uttarakhand that came into existence in December 1995. At HIMS we endeavour to create ethically sound medical professionals who are ready to undertake the responsibility of health care in our country. It has an intake capacity of 150 MBBS and 120 MD/MS, Postgraduate’s students annually. The Jolly grant Himalayan Hospital another sister concern is into providing medical services to people from all walks of life. With such kind of expertise at our hands, we have been able to incorporate in the courses so that the Homestay owners can provide a clean and Hygienic environment where sanitisation etc is the norm. Hygiene and cleanliness will remain an integral part of our intervention even after the pandemic is over.

Q.9. Will you incorporate aspects of Agro-tourism in this module of homestays?
Ans. Definitely, that is the whole point, we could have opened a five-star hotel anywhere in the state but our objective is not to profit but empowering people and making them stand on their feet so that they do not have to look towards the government for employment. There is immense potential in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, tourism, and wellness. We have introduced all these aspects. Food is an integral part of the hospitality industry and the kitchen garden in front of the homestays will provide organic and fresh vegetables that they can pluck with their own hands and savour the taste of the healthy food cooked traditionally. Moreover, the farmers of that village will also earn indirectly by selling their raw produce and benefit from it in long run. SRHU is also going to train the youths especially those who have returned home due to Covid restrictions in the field of Panchkarma, Ayurveda so that the tourist can get all the facilities in the house in a serene geographical environment. I would like to add one more thing this all could not have been possible without the blessing of the divine H.H. Dr Swami Rama, a great Yogi and a scholar whose yogic feats found special mention in Encyclopedia Britannica 1973. The visionary who made health and education available to the people of Uttarakhand. We are just following the path shown by the great seer Swami Rama, who had only one goal to serve humanity and transform and enhance the quality of life of the people.

Q. 9. How can a person apply for the course?
Ans. SRHU is going to start this course for youth who are planning to do business in the field of homestay. 100 youths have been imparted vocational training which is of 200 hours and will be completed in various phases. The Interested youths can contact +91-7869-568-769 for more information.

Dr Dhasmana has more than 23 years of varied experience in the field of Finance, Strategy, Administration and Education. He began his career as the Treasurer of Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. His undying commitment to social work resulted in the University’s seamless implementation and execution of the Social Outreach Program that deals with health, sanitation, education and income generation in the rural areas of Uttarakhand. Under his leadership, the institute has successfully provided safe drinking water to over 325 families in mountain villages, constructed over 500 ‘Rainwater Harvesting Tanks’ & toilets for over 14,000 families & 40 schools constructed, organized over 250 medical and health camps etc.

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