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India Skills Kerala: Meet Kasargod’s Sneha competing in the male domain of carpentry

As a toddler, Sneha S V routinely saw her father cutting, shaping and installing wood in the house that is also the carpenter family’s workplace for ages. The tricks in the trade inspired her to continue the tradition — and now exhibit her excellence at the India Skills Kerala 2020 in this city.

The 14-year-old from upstate Kasargod district is competing in the carpentry section of the north zone round of the mega event being organised by the government. At the Industrial Training Institute in Malikkadavu here, the class-10 student from the Government High School in Iriyanni is keen to prove her skills she learned largely from her father Sasidharan C.

“I would be around the house, wielding my tools and working on furniture pieces,” reveals Sasidharan. “I have two daughters. It gives me immense pleasure that carpentry has become more of a passion for Sneha (the younger one).”

Thus, amid a crowd of 16 boys at the Skills Kerala venue here, Sneha stands out as the only girl in the competition that features the trade which is conventionally a male domain. “I’m thrilled. I have earlier, too, participated in such prestigious competitions,” she gushes.

That was three years ago when her class-6 teacher, on sensing Sneha’s talent, sent the girl for the Kerala State School Sastrolsavam, which is the largest science fair for students in Asia region. “There, I emerged first at the district level and third at the state level,” recalls Sneha, who hails from Muliyar in Kasargod taluk.

Of late, she has expertise in making wooden three-seaters even as the teenager is an A-grader at school. “I am also pursuing classical dance. I perform Bharatanatyan, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam,” adds Sneha, whose mother Smitha B is a tailor and sister Swetha a Plus-2 student.

Sneha, nonetheless, is not the lone girl standing out at the ongoing zonal competitions at India Skills Kerala 2020 being organised by the Industrial Training Department and Kerala Academy for Skills Excellents, both under the Labour and Skills Department.

Anushree K and Vijina M, for instance, are busy at their workstations, smoothening out the wood planks given to them as part of the competition in joinery, in which they have had formal training from an institute. Joinery is part of woodworking that involves joining together pieces of wood or lumber to produce complex items.

Further, in bricklaying competition, Megha Mol and Adira K are the only girls in their group of participants. Both are students of the draughtsman civil course at Govt ITI (Women) at Kozhikode. Bricklaying refers to use of blocks to construct blockwork walls and other forms of masonry.

The north zone competitions, which are on till this Friday, cover six districts: Malappuram, Palakkad, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod. While the preliminary district-level competitions of the event had concluded on January 20.

The previous edition of annual event held competitions in 20 skills. This time, of the 42, as many as 20 are academic skills, while the rest are specialised skills. The grand State-level finale is scheduled from February 22 to 24 at Kozhikode. The winners at those competitions will get Rs 1,00,000 each as prize money, and runners up Rs 50,000. All finalists will get Rs 10,000 each.

The state-level winners will qualify for the national competitions. The prize-winning performers in that round will represent the country at World Skills 2021 in Shanghai, China.

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