(File pic) The newly-rebranded Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) is setting itself apart from its predecessor through several new enhancements that are expected to uplift the community’s socioeconomic status. (NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD)

KUALA LUMPUR: The newly-rebranded Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra) is setting itself apart from its predecessor through several new enhancements that are expected to uplift the community’s socioeconomic status.

Moving away from stereotypical courses on making 'murukkus', Mitra today emphasised on addressing and resolving economic issues in the community including job placements for graduates and expansive use of e-applications.

Mitra’s initial iteration, the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community Unit (Sedic) had, for example, offered several training courses but without assurances of job opportunities, Mitra deputy director-general M. Mahalingam said.

To date, Mitra has disbursed RM30 million out of the RM100 million grant which was allocated to fund developmental courses. Mitra is tasked disbursing funds to participating parties interested in facilitating such programmes.

Applications were processed online via its grant management system, unlike Sedic which mostly relied on a manual mode of operation that some had claimed to be susceptible to corruption.

“For example, our first batch (under Sedic) of nearly 1,000 graduates with generic degrees like IT, are undergoing retraining to prepare them for job markets. In six months we will have jobs for them.

“One of the associations which are now training them is partnering with Huawei. So you can imagine the opportunities there. They transfer the technology, train them and later absorb them into Huawei,” he said.

Mahalingam said among Mitra’s highlights were its customised programmes, which would see prevalent interest in certain fields across the community to be developed into full-fledged training schemes.

For instance, a passion for traditional Indian music “urumi melam”, a spirited ensemble of rhythmic drum beats played during Thaipusam, could be turned into a formal course.

“For example, there are school drop-outs who are interested in urumi melam. We then help to structure an urumi melam training course to be led by a credible trainer.”

The reachability of such programmes was also often treated as a multi-pronged approach to better identify the community’s various socioeconomic status or problems.

“As they come into the fold, we check if they have MyKad issues, or if they are from the B40 or need to be on e-Kasih. We also send them for character-building training and bring them into the mainstream,” Mahalingam said, adding that he was hoping Mitra could reach a wider Indian community population in the country, through the setting up of branches in states.

“A population of 2.1 million people being represented by a mere 28 (Mitra staff members) is hilarious. Earlier, we had the MIC, from branch to state and national level, where the people sought assistance.

“The new government is moving away from ethnic-based parties, but the Indians in rural areas are not ready for that.”

He recalled a family with a disabled father and stateless daughter who had to travel from Kedah to Putrajaya to seek help from Mitra. He believed such cases should be assisted at their state level.

Those interested in the courses available can download Mitra mobile app for more details.