They say, 'everyone deserves a second chance'. But when criminal offenders get a second chance to normal life, it is important that they are prepared to be absorbed in the society. It is for this reason that forty prisoners held in the semi-open cell of Tihar Jail are undergoing an image building training course conducted by trainers of the Image Management Professionals Association (IMPA) in association with the Art of Living Foundation.
These prisoners, come from varied backgrounds – right from skilled workers like carpenters and plumbers to the educated computer engineers and have been booked for serious offences like rape and murder. However, following their good conduct in the prison, they are scheduled to be released in the coming six to eight months. "Besides the challenge of being accepted into the society, another hurdle will be to secure gainful employment," explains Atika Dhandhiya, an Art of living consultant and an image building trainer. "Through the image building sessions we will boost their confidence and help them make a fresh start in the society," she reflects.
Dhandhiya along with her fellow trainer Anshi Gupta, president, IMPA Delhi Chapter are training these men in various topics like body language, hygiene, general etiquette, dressing concepts for various occasions – both work and social and how are first impressions/perceptions formed and their importance. "The training sessions are interactive in nature and would help the inmates in making a fresh start. The modules will cover details regarding what is expected out of them and the do's and don'ts," Suman Agarwal, director, Image Consulting Business Institute (ICBI), who is sponsoring the training programme under their CSR initiatives.
Under their Prison SMART programme, the Foundation has been training the Tihar prisoners in the art of handling their mind through meditation. However, during her interactions with the inmates, Dhandhiya felt a dire need to conduct image grooming sessions and help them integrate into the society. "Following their criminal record, finding a decent employment would be a big issue for these inmates. Though some of them are qualified, no one will want them, unless they show some good social skills and etiquettes," explains Dhandhiya, who is also the secretary, IMPA Delhi Chapter, wanted to make them good enough to be integrated into the society. IMPA is the trade body which regulates, educates and facilitates the image consulting industry in the Indian sub-continent, and also undertake CSR initiatives.
The grooming programme is spread over six sessions of two hour each. "A social scientist from AIIMS will observe these sessions and keep tabs on how these inmates fare after their release. Depending on the performance report, we will pitch image training ideas to other prisons across the country," signs off Dhandhiya.