By Matters India Reporter
Kolkata, Feb, 2, 2019: A Salesian brother, who was hailed as the “father of drop-outs,” for his pioneering works in non-formal vocation training in eastern India, died on February 1 in Kolkata.
Brother Mathew Thaiparambil, founder director of Don Bosco Self-Employment and Research Institute (DBSERI) passed away at a Kolkata Hospital. He was 78.
The funeral will be held at historical Marian shrine of Bandel on February 6, informs Salesian sources in Kolkata.
Thaiparambil has two brothers in the Salesian Society: elder brother Father T.V. Anthony in Delhi province and younger Brother T.V. Johny in Kolkata province.
He was a renowned innovator and consultant both among government and non-government circles in India and abroad for his unique and spectacular approach in training and creating job opportunities through non-formal technical education, the Salesian sources said.
Thaiparambil was a long time consultant to the West Bengal government in vocational training and the Indian government for self-employment.
He had initiated non-traditional income generating trades to train women in setting up small enterprises and be financially independent.
Subrata Ganguly, a Don Bosco Alumnus and one of Thaiparambil’s collaborators, noted that the Salesian was hailed as the father of dropouts. “As director of Don Bosco Technical School at Liluah (a Kolkata suburb) he started a self-employment project to care for school dropout young people of the area who had a propensity to become anti-socials,” he recalled.
“One man’s vision and initiative has, over the years, successfully managed to bring hope to the lives of many marginalized young people who would otherwise have been left out of the social mainstream,” Ganguly added.
Kolkata Salesian Provincial Father Nirmol Gomes asserts, “I have no hesitation in saying that (Thaiparambil) is a jewel in the crown of Salesian Brother Vocations in India and lodestar for the typically Salesian initiatives in the non-formal education for the poor and marginalized youth.”
The provincial recalled that the brother was hailed as the “Father of Non-formal Vocation Training in India” in 2012 at a ceremony where DBSERI was conferred the Best Vocational Training Institution in West Bengal.
“A man of great vision and foresight, (Thaiparambil) has touched and transformed the lives of thousands of young people over 40 plus years, saving them from vagrancy and despair, and falling prey to militancy, particularly from joining the Naxals in the Jungalmahal area,” Father Gomes said.
Thaiparambil’s connection to Kolkata goes back to 1957, when he came to study at Bandel, and started the then revolutionary concept of providing self-employment opportunity through non-formal vocational training.
In a previous interview he recalled his efforts to fight youth unemployment with self-employment saying, “as more than 85 percent of children drop out from schools, Don Bosco Society took up this noble program to equip school drop-out boys and girls with income generating skills leading to self-employment.”
The initiative, which started during the tenure of first Indian provincial of Calcutta province Fr Joseph Kezhakkekara in the hired premises with 14 vagrant boys, was later shifted to the present permanent site, at Mirpara, in 1990 with over 17 trades.
First Salesians who joined Thaiparambil in the early days were: Fathers M.M. Joy and K. A. Thomas and Brother Andrew Jojo, among others.
After running the program for 12 years in a rented building near Don Bosco School, Liluah, Salesian Calcutta province found a property of 4 acres of land which comprised two defunct factories with dilapidated sheds.
The DBSERI shifted to the present location to keep up with growing numbers of students. It is about 1.5 km from Liluah railway station and just 10 minutes of train travel from Howrah.