Ache din remain a far cry

THE HANS INDIA |   Aug 12,2017 , 05:31 AM IST


The spectre of unemployment and underemployment has been increasing at a rapid pace with lakhs of educated youth entering the work force. While employment opportunities in the government sector, including PSUs, have been greatly reduced, the same is also true of private sector. Moreover, with joblessness increasing in rural areas, there is a huge influx of young people to urban centres in search of jobs. 

According to estimates, around 15 million jobs were created between 2005 and 2012, leaving a backlog of 50 million unemployed in those seven years. This may have increased to around 70 million presently. There are hardly any jobs for the 11 to 12 million who enter the workforce annually. However, recently a task force, headed by Niti Aayog Vice Chairman, recommended widening the definition of formal sector workers by including all those covered under EPFO, ESIS, government and public sector employees, workers having coverage under private insurance or pension schemes or provident funds etc.

The situation in the agricultural sector has undergone a sea change in the past two decades. There were 111 million cultivators and 75 million agricultural labourers in 1991. That’s a total of 185 million people working on land. But in Census 2011, there were 119 million cultivators and 144 million agricultural labourers i.e. 263 million people working on land. 

On the agricultural front, the wastage of grains, fruits and vegetables is one of the highest in the world. Thus, there is huge opportunity in setting up grain storage facilities through cold chains and advanced logistics for vegetables and fruits and with a massive investment in this area, there is a potential to create number of new skilled and unskilled jobs. 

The strategy of focusing on increasing GDP growth without looking into grass-root employment generation has to undergo a change if adequate jobs along with self-employment have to be ensured. Meanwhile, the MSMEs, which constitute 45% of manufacturing, 42% of exports and over 37% of GDP, would need encouragement including technological support, financial aid to boost production and ensure economies of scale, as only these can provide maximum jobs, entrepreneurs and products. However, MSME entrepreneurs need to be given better loans.

Importantly, the government has made it mandatory for all PSUs to make 20% purchases from small businesses. At the State level, more efforts are needed. A balance between automation and manual operations through use of computer facilities in various sectors is needed. However, one has to be a little ideological in maintaining that crushing human creativity through mindless oppressive tasks, geared just to make money instead of working for justice, social and aesthetic goals cannot be the aim of our economic planning strategy.

And this cannot be accepted in a labour-intensive country like ours. Private investment has to be encouraged in all possible manners especially in agriculture and allied sectors and small and micro sectors to ensure job creation while public investment has to be substantially increased. (INFA)


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