Employment for All Indians: A Possibility
Opposition parties of Modi’s India has orchestrated a loud Chorus in the last few years, of high “Unemployment & Inflation…”. It may be ridiculous for the current congregation and components of the erstwhile UPA chanting these mantras at almost all platforms. It may be their political compulsions to show Modi govt in poor light. In their time (2009-14) the unemployment was at the embarrassing high level and the inflation in double digits with a paltry ‘Per Capita Income’; and worst…numerous scams raining cats and dogs to strain the national economy. Having said that, per capita income that gained pace in Bajpeyee Govt in 2003, kept its pace in UPA Govt too except that it had somewhat flattened on 2011-13. In Modi Govt since 2014, the growth continues except for the brief Covid19 dip in 2020.
The net personal or family income in any country is the net result of Annual Per Capita Income (APCI) and Annual Inflation Rate among some other minor indicators. With increase in the Indian Annual per capita income and decrease in the annual inflation rate, the net savings of the Indians have been increasing (as shown below) after the NDA govt in 2002-03 and more so in the Modi govt (2014-21); much more than any other period in the Indian history. Measures taken by the Bajpeyee Govt created the much needed impetus in the momentum that kept the APCI growing even in the UPA period. One needs to be mindful that the income is in the dollars hence, not subject to the decrease buying capacity of the depreciating rupee. Hence, the present opposition narrative of rising inflation and cost of living does not gel well with the actual financial parameters of Indian economy.
However, the governance in UPA Govt was pathetic and the problems were real, not a mere narrative of the then opposition parties. The result was the rejection of UPA in 2014. Modi govt took charges and there were immediate reversals on several of the public woes. In fact, the new govt started shining on most fronts in shortest possible time. The most commendable achievements were the transparent governance, national development and the benefit of development reaching the last man in the socio-economic strata that govt termed “Antyoday” as enumerated below. Having mentioned the above, the author will be failing in appreciating the woes of any Indian caused by unemployment. It will be desirable that all Indians have employment akin to their skill levels which is not the case.
Initial Years of Modi Govt
There is a saying “where there is a will, there is a way”. Modi Govt in 2014-15 had shown that they had the will…of being transparent, sensitive to public woes of those days…working 24x7 to alleviate their problems. The poor and unemployed needed job/employment. Govt employment in the country has been static in the last many decades at ~2.9 Cr. Jobs in private companies are dependent on creation of conducive environment for private companies which has not been easy in India due to various reasons. Hence, in a short term measure, the poor and/or the unemployed were offered livelihood through MUDRA scheme that provided self-employment and in many cases, offering livelihood to many others as well. It is believed >22 crore people availed the surety-free loans till 2018-19 and started earning their livelihood. Loans were sanctioned ranging from Rs 10K to 200K according to their needs. MUDRA loan aspirants ranged from “Thela wala” vegetable and fruit vendors … to numerous “start-up” companies who set-up their small time business and in many cases providing job to the other unemployed too. Much effort had also gone in to “Make in India” in which international business houses were approached to set-up their manufacturing hubs with Indian workers. ‘Skill India’ program too was initiated, making impact but was slow, less than expectations. Many of those trained through this program did not get job and not many of these people were helped to start their own ventures. As a result, many of the trained hands remained unemployed.
The Infrastructure push by the govt had been massive but it has mostly given jobs in the unorganized sectors. Overall, there was clear impact on employment by the new government. Along with several other achievements that they had promised in their election manifesto, it enabled them to return to powers with more numbers in 2019.
In India, most individuals dream of getting a govt job where traditionally job accountability has been less, pay & allowances are modest and pensionary benefit on retirements provide them the social security. There are few who adhere to their family chores/profession and fewer venture in entrepreneurship. The self-employment schemes under MUDRA though provides livelihood to the families but are less enthusing because of less profit, more rigorous and above all, devoid of social security, the pensions. This may be the reason why most of these people also queue up before any and every govt jobs advertised. Undoubtedly, there is an urgent need to make the self-employment schemes more attractive.
All successive govts in independent India failed to create enough industries and public sectors and other ventures that could offer enough jobs to the nationals. As a result, the govt jobs are limited, just about 2.96 crores overall incl State & Union govts that remains static since 1980s. People also fell prey to the black jobs…of begging, pick-pockets, private army of musclemen, black-marketing, loot & theft, Hawala operators and so on.Thanks to the private sectors and the IT boom after 1990s that brought additional jobs of the tunes of almost 1.1 crores by 2005; but that too remained static till 2014. New employments…mostly temporary, has been in the unorganized sectors….the daily wages, laborers, businessmen, handicraft workers, hotel, restaurants, hawkers, roadside vendors, Buses, Taxy, auto, rickshaw, household workers, salesmen…you name it. The govt jobs further reduced due to constriction/closure/privatising of some of the Govt departments and PSUs like Telecommunication, Air India, Steel authority of India and the likes of, that failed to remain competitive to the private sectors or those which lost their relevance. In spite of all these turbulence, the overall perspective by 2018-19 were reasonably satisfactory as shown opposite…BUT…people wanted more.
The Present Situation of Unemployment
It must be acknowledged that Indian population explosion is having vicious adverse impacts on almost all fronts, impacting employment the most. On an average, 58-62 lakh job seekers are added every year. In the 8 yrs of Modi govt, about 5 Cr job seekers have risen with no rise in the Govt jobs; whether by the State or Union Govts. Surely, MUDRA beneficiaries have grown to near 34 Cr by 2021 with several thousands of Start-Up and more than 100 Unicorn companies coming up and in turn, providing jobs to millions. However, yearly requirement of new job providers are several millions and those are lacking.
Covid19 made the unorganized sector jobs severely constricted. Almost 6-7 Cr people became jobless in the initial weeks of the pandemics due to the lockdown, whose family had to be provided free provisions for nearly 2-2½ yrs. Although most of the closed businesses have reopened, but unable to meet the growing demands of the job seekers. A comparative state of unemployment status in 2011 vs 2019 vs 2011 is also shown in the figure above. It shows that there are about 16 Cr people without jobs (as in 2021) that includes the unwilling house wives, numbering about 10 Cr. That means only about 6 Cr people above 20 yrs are truly unemployed without even self-employment. Then why is so much of outcry and unrest caused by the opposition political parties of India? May be it is their compulsion to create outcry and panic. However, it is a fact that majority of the Self-employed are unsatisfied for the lack of social security needing schemes of assured growth, insurance cover and pensions.
The Possibilities of Employment for all
Finance Minister Mrs Sitharaman had sought suggestions from almost all quarters towards preparing her budget and it is believed that she had lot many suggestions…BUT…did she have suggestions to provide works to all hands? She could have made Modi Govt reach unprecedented heights by announcing “Works to all Hands” by just providing another 6 Cr self-employment. It was very much possible but she failed to utilise the opportunity. If India has to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024, the govt has to put all Indian hands to work….in govt sector, private sector, unorganized as well as self-employment.
It is felt that Agriculture Sector can be a big initiating platform to provide works to all hands and boost the economy in the process. The author acknowledges that Agriculture is under State Govts and there will be difficulties in initiating the program as mentioned below. It could be a non-profit set-up started at the Panchayat levels, may be with some govt assistance in the initial stages. It is bound to set a chain reaction of augmenting manufacturing linked industrial production thus creating additional jobs at different levels. It must be cautioned that the proposals given below, may seem to have a communist approach but it is not so. As such Modi govt has already acknowledged that their “Antyoday Scheme” has the Communist Connotations to say the least. The jobs through boost to Agri-sector could be created as below:-
- Set up a Farm Assistance Centre (FAC) at 2.5 lakh Panchayat levels, each having latest farming tools like tractors, cultivators, thressors, pump sets, a borewell driller, the drip irrigation, high produce seeds, fertilisers, the saplings of high produce fruits & vegetables and so on which the farmers can utilise at subsidized costs. FACs will also have options to hire the existing farm equipment in its areas. Suppose if there be an average of 10 Tractors, 1 Cultivator, 5 Thressors, 5 pump sets, 1 borewell driller in 2 panchayats and a 10-15 drip-irrigation units, it will create a huge demand for the farm equipment, which in turn, create impetus in the manufacturing sectors.
- All these facilities at the FACs will employ at least 100 people on average thus providing 2.5 Cr employments. Every farmer and their families will have option to work/participate in the various activities of sowing of seeds, weeding the grass or the other allied works required in the field for which they can earn their own wages too. The “Kisan Samman” assistance of every farmer could be utilized by the FACs for the farming purposes and the remainder of the costs could be met with govt assistance, recovered after the produce is harvested. Even a temporary Mandi can be set-up or made available to the panchayats.
- Some Panchayats can also set-up cold storage, food processing units in the areas where the perishable vegetables and fruits are in plenty. If there is a Cold Storage plant in each cluster of 2-3 Panchayats and 1 Food Processing unit at the district levels, it could bring up 1 lakh of such units providing employment to at least 50 lakhs skilled and unskilled workers alike. Besides, it will prevent the loss of perishable produces that happen repeatedly, in almost all States.
- An agriculture college could be opened in each district of India amidst these FACs. Their faculties and research could be of immense assistance to the farming sector. This will possibly absorb all qualified agriculture graduates, Post graduates and research scholars.
- The huge demand for farm equipment as mentioned above, will set up a chain reaction of augmenting manufacturing equipment and the connected job/employment opportunity. This will surely vitalise the entire national demand-based manufacturing impetus. All machineries will boost up production of the raw materials that include steel, rubber, mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment incl computers and peripherals.
- There could surely be a revolution in agriculture sector with boost in the produce. There will also be a demand based augmentation of fertilisers/organic manure, seeds, insecticides etc.
- The composite effect of the revolution in agriculture sector will create at least 5 Cr jobs if not more. In addition, the entire economy will get impetus to boost productivity.
The above program may look simple on paper but surely will be complex in implementing. That is why no govts till date have even attempted it. Agriculture being State subject, the Union Govt may have least interest to initiate such program. However, if the Union provides backing of initial financing, a BJP ruled state could take it up as a pilot project at a divisional or sub-divisional level to fine tune the several bottlenecks coming in the way. If it proves feasible, the entire state and later entire nation can implement it. After the initial investment, it could be self-sustaining for generations.
On the lines as that of the agriculture, numerous other sectors could be opened to expansions and provide vast employment. Service sector is one such area. There is shortage of service providers in all fields be it automobile, electronics, electrical products, digital media, education, household goods, household jobs…you name it. Skill India is already imparting training but there is lesser absorption of the trained/skilled man-power. Start-up companies with some assistance from the govt may render a huge employment…BUT…there too, there is a limitation. There is a huge shortage of such skilled taskforce abroad… esp Europe and America. Our trained work force can grab the opportunity the world over. This was the though process of Modiji too that he spoke at many platforms but his ministers failed him in not implementing it vigorously.
A similar approach may be adopted in most departments of the government, both State and Centre. May there be an open entry of the apprenticeships and trainees in all departments…in administrative services, police force, security force, labour force or wherever employment takes place….both in organized and unorganized sectors. Let every Indian citizen choose where he or she wants to work and accordingly join the apprenticeship training….at some fixed scholarships/remunerations…of Rs 5000 to 8000 pm that could support their families without burdening the Govt exchequer. Let the concerned supervisors monitor their aptitude and progress…..if suitable, let them continue to prove themselves and be absorbed. If unsuitable, ask them to join other fields…with some recommendations. Almost 8-10 apprentices could work in the salary of one permanent employee.
Manufacturing hubs too can have similar approaches. The new demand of Agri-equipment has already been mentioned. Today, in the vastly upgrading technologies, the need of newer equipment is also increasing esp the consumer goods. Public transportation and Consumer goods are another area of expansion.
Innovative skills are producing endless list of goods. The electrical vehicles are coming on to the roads but where are its charging points? That is needed at each home, every 5-10 kms on all road, highways. The numbers are staggering. Where is the manufacturing of such chargers? The repairs, service & maintenance support for the motor vehicles in forms of garages, service centres are very less whether in villages, cities or highways. These are only few of the examples. There could be numerous such ventures that can provide works to all Indian hands. The govt of the day has to help the citizen do it by themselves, through self-employment, but is apparently unwilling to make this job-sector attractive enough as mentioned earlier.
If a million of youth are queuing up for few hundreds of govt jobs, surely there is a problem amongst them. Most of them may be having some self-employment of livelihood but those may not be fulfilling their dreams. Modi’s new India has given them the dreams, it must also enable them to fulfill it with satisfying and appropriate jobs. The govt must walk the extra-mile to make those self-employments attractive enough. If so done, more and more people will like to start their own ventures/enterprises close to their locations that will also prevent the urban shift. Only then will the long queue for govt jobs shorten. State govts may be short-sighted. Modiji, the ‘Yug-Purush’, may have to do the hand holding. The task is difficult but not impossible and that is why people say “Modi hai to Mumkin Hai” and may this be proven on the ground too.