My name is Dilbagh Singh. I hail from Kulaar village in Ludhiana district of Punjab.
When I was barely two years old, I lost both my parents. Orphaned at infancy, I was not fortunate enough like other children to be nursed by a doting mother or be guided by a caring father. I was brought up by my uncle.
After completing 10th Standard, I decided to start earning my own livelihood. Like most others in our small village, dairy farming was the profession I chose.
Soon, life took its own turn. I got married and fathered two beautiful children. Yet, we were perennially struggling to make both ends meet.
I owned two cows and managed to earn a paltry sum of Rs. 150-200 a day selling milk. But that too was irregular and my business was plagued by uncertainty. At the end of a month, my income would fail to cross a meager 5,000 rupees. It was immensely difficult for us to sustain the basic needs, let alone pay our kids' school fees. The condition worsened when one of the cows died.
Traditional dairy farming was not suiting many of my relatives and neighbors, who chose to migrate to Canada or Australia, eyeing a better future for their children. My wife and I also had that option open, but we decided against it. I wanted to live in 'अपना पिंड, अपना देश' (my village, my nation) and weave a bright future for our small family of four in this very soil of my motherland.
Till a couple of years ago, our financial condition was deplorable. I was failing to provide a good life for my family as I had promised. I was overwhelmed by despair and depression. My dream of building a beautiful future was falling apart.
It was at such trying times that I came to know about ICICI Academy for Skills where they provide different skill-based training to promote sustainable livelihood opportunities in underdeveloped villages like ours.
As part of their community outreach initiative, the team at the ICICI Academy for Skills (IAS) approached us to inform about the launch of the 'Dairy Farming and Vermi-Composting' programme, completely free of charge. I was not very confident, but, my wife coaxed me to enroll for the free course. This was probably the best decision of my life as it marked the beginning of my transformational journey.
I immersed myself diligently in the training programme hoping to absorb as much knowledge as possible and implement that to alter the course of my life. Our trainers were not only extremely knowledgeable but genuinely helpful. They made sure we learnt the A to Z of managing a farm and taking proper care of our cattle.
Post completion of my training, my wife and I took a small loan of Rs. 30,000 to purchase our first set of cows. Keeping in mind the basic principles of dairy farming that the programme had taught me, I succeeded in increasing the yield of all of our cows significantly and also enhanced the fat content of the milk. ICICI Academy Of Skills connected us to the Verka Dairy who started absorbing the produce from our farm.
When I joined the academy, I had only two cows, who produced barely 10 liters of milk per day. Moreover, the fat content of the milk was far lower than average, which had brought down the demand drastically. Today, we have expanded our farm to 23 cows and 2 goats. The quality of milk they produce is considered the best in our village. We have also employed two workers to help me keep up the pace of the work.
I will be eternally grateful to their amazing skill development programme, interactive practical lessons and encouragement that helped my business attain this height. Today, my dairy farm is immensely productive and profitable, I earn up to Rs. 75,000 per month and sometimes even more, which was once beyond my dreams. From our savings, we have built our own home in the village. My daughter and son are studying in 7th and 3rd standards respectively, at the best school in the area. By God's grace, we are also saving for their higher education. Thanks to ICICI Academy for Skills, we are now living the Indian dream.
The intensive and meticulous training at the ICICI Academy Of Skills, have helped me develop an ownership mindset and even at this age, I am always ready to scale to the next level. My ambition includes increasing the number of cows to 50 and expanding the cattle shed.
My training at the academy had been a blessing for me. ICICI has helped me to be a better father and fulfill my family responsibilities in the best way ever. For hundreds like me across the country, dreams have been realized by ICICI Academy for Skills.
– Dilbagh Singh
"ICICI has undertaken many social initiatives nationwide to provide free of cost skill development programmes to the underprivileged. The structured training programmes are disseminated through three avenues, the ICICI Digital Villages programme, ICICI Academy for Skills (IAS) and Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs). As per the estimate till 31 August 2018, over 330,000 people across India have benefitted from these initiatives and their lives transformed."