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In his 'Mann Ki Baat' programme last Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised a 36-year-old migrant worker from Bihar who set up his bulb manufacturing unit during the pandemic.
Pramod Baitha was among the lakhs of unorganised sector workers who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus lockdown. Despite harsh circumstances, Baitha decided not to give up and started his business.
Baitha was born in Utimpandey village and studied only till Class 8. He migrated to New Delhi to earn his living in 1998 where he worked at a LED bulb manufacturing factory.
"I continued working there till I rose to the ranks of a junior technician, learnt a lot and got paid anywhere between ₹8000-12000," Baitha told The New Indian Express.
But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and he was left stranded for almost a month. Baitha returned to his native village in Bihar when the government started running special 'shramik trains' from the national capital.
After listening to PM Narendra Modi's 'vocal for local' appeal, Promod Baitha decided to manufacture 9-watt LED bulbs.
But, starting a manufacturing unit was not an easy task. In the beginning, he somehow managed to arrange ₹40,000 and procured raw materials from Delhi.
Later, he started manufacturing LED bulbs with his wife Sanju Devi and son Dhiraj Kumar, an intermediate student. Together, all three of them were able to manufacture 800 such bulbs. Initially, they began selling the bulbs at ₹11 per piece.
When the demand for bulbs increased, Baitha bought more raw material and engaged some local labourers after training them. At present, he has employed eight people in his manufacturing unit.
Baitha shared, "In West Champaran district alone, there is a demand for 10000 LED bulbs. I am facing a fund crunch, and that is why I have not been able to increase the quantity."
Baitha hopes to get some assistance from both PM Modi and CM Nitish Kumar. He said that their words of encouragement and appreciation have made him more enthusiastic.
"From being a factory employee once to being an employer, I want to work hard in order to provide jobs to more locals," said Baitha while talking about his journey.
He admits that through his small-scale venture, he can earn at least ₹25,000, and this amount is more than what he used to get in Delhi.
"I urge PM Modi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to help me out from the financial crunch to expand my unit," said Baitha mentioning that he still repairs old defunct LED bulbs. "Now, we will never leave our state. We have decided to run our own business and employ locals. Coronavirus has made me an employer from being an employee."
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