New avenues of employment via a shift in the paradigm

Bishaldeep Kakati and Abhishek Kabra

A lot of discussions and deliberations have always sketched a hopeful picture of India’s youth being capable of contributing to productive employment. The Government of India too has been investing heavily in rural employment programmes by taking noteworthy plan of action, the most talked about being the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or in short ‘MGNREGA’. In addition to ‘MGNREGA’, the government has been following the policy of creating self employment by providing subsidized credit in programmes such as IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Programme), SGSY (Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana), SJSRY (Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana, NRLM (National Rural Livelihoods Mission) etc. However the sad fact is that even after putting so much emphasis, the government has failed to keep the count of number of unemployed individuals in check as because the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) job survey for 2017-2018 had shown a spike in the unemployment rate to over 6 percent, which is an astonishing 45 year high. So a critical analysis of this scenario brings into our perspective the palpable fact that the main reason behind this dilemma is the limited capacity of the poorest section of the society to absorb credit and start a new venture. And this limited capacity to start something new might be because of illiteracy, lack of business skills and motivation or the inability to take risks to start a new business on their own.

Over the years, it has also been observed that people prefer themselves getting employed in public or private sector with a decent salary rather than facing the consequences of an uncertain market. But a shift in the paradigm is required especially when we take into our consideration the ever increasing unemployment rate. Hence in this regard, the Ministry of Labour must give proper emphasis on skill development as well rather than just coming out with more and more employment programmes, without much of success. Therefore, there must be a right balance between new employment boosting programmes and the concept of skill development.

The conspicuous fact is that the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is accountable for skill development activities in India. In fact, the government has already taken many campaigns like National Skill Development Mission, National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikash Yojana (PMKVY) etc., but somewhere the line, these campaigns have not been up to the mark in the process of achieving its aims and objectives.

The entire process of skill development would only benefit the larger mass in the longer run, only if the advantage of the same is bestowed upon the people at a primary level i.e. at the school or the college level. But if we take into consideration the state of Assam itself, most of the schools and colleges in Assam haven’t still properly laid down their emphasis on skill development. Especially for a state like Assam, that boasts of activities like weaving, pottery, different kinds of craftsmanship etc, a rational approach towards skill development might have not only made the youths self employed but would have also refurbished Assam’s distressing unemployment rate. And the same thing applies for the rest of India as well.

A problem India has always faced in spite of the steps like Make in India is that of simultaneity in indigenous production and consumption. Many small businesses start as sole-proprietorship or partnership could never meet the demands of the diversified masses of the country and as a result of which the goods of similar type that are produced in large quantities by the capitalist section are being consumed. But this bleak in meeting the demands creates room for a mass employment through formation of Co-Operative Societies. In Assam we have several self-help groups which can be mobilized to a large extent to go for production of items of daily consumption. This would do a twin-faceted benefit. Apart from making the people employed in good number, the produced commodity can be attained by the members at a price lower than the market price. In the time of Covid-19, preparation of masks in a co-operative manner can also be a good opportunity to assemble little financial support at the time of a crisis. India have had examples of great women startups like Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad started with mere seven women and are more than 43,000 across the country, at present. The co-operative movement which was led by Dr. Verghese Kurien led to provide a model for not only India but also most of the developing countries of the world by laying the foundation of democratic enterprises at the Grass-root. His tenure at the Anand changed the destiny of Indian Dairy Industry. He started helping the fledgling dairy co-operative. The rest is history. The first dairy co-operative union was formed with merely 2 dairy co-operative societies as its member and since then, till date, over 16000 societies have registered and more than three million farmers pour milk twice a day.  

Assam in most of its towns have the chamber of commerce which is basically an organization of the organizations and these co-operative societies if formed for various kinds of goods raising from dairy to handloom to many FMCGs that can be indigenously manufactured, a revolutionary employment generation will be seen. These workers who would be at the heart of these societies along with job opportunities for themselves can also provide in turn employment to the non-members by hiring them for clerical or other skill based activities. In fact, the International Labor Organization (ILO) stated that more than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures. And in India, the situation is not much different either.

Therefore, the government should at the earliest implement an imperative plan of action where they can make the denizens aware about different mediums of self employment. Curriculum in schools and colleges should have courses related to skill development, and for those who cannot attend schools and colleges proper separate arrangements for them should be made by the government, so that the concerned citizens can think beyond public or private sector employment. So, in the longer run, it would be interesting to take note of the steps taken by the government to engage more and more people to be self employed in order to reduce the spike in the rate of unemployment.

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May 17, 2020

Bishaldeep kakati

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