By Dhurjati Mukherjee
Statistical data reveals that during the last few years, job creation has been minimal. In fact the Government has been cornered and finds itself on a sticky wicket with it being reported that 24 lakh vacancies alone with the Central and State governments.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, it was stated that the highest vacancies of over 10 lakh was for teachers in elementary and secondary schools followed by police of 5.4 lakh and railways of 2.4 lakh. While education has been accorded the status of a fundamental right, the enormous vacancies of teachers may obviously be a stumbling block in achieving the desired objective.
Regarding police, it needs to be mentioned that India has one of the lowest police-to-population ratios. This is often held to be a major factor in larger law and justice issues like pendency of cases and lower conviction rates due to slapdash investigations done by overburdened police. Another area is the realm of health centres where it is a well known fact that there is acute shortage of doctors, nurses, technical staff and other personnel and the vacancies would further retard the process of providing such facility to the poorer sections of society.
The lack of adequate recruitment in the government as also in the private sector has been a cause of serious concern. Though there has been expansion of education, this has not been followed with job facilities for the educated youth. As a result, a recent survey revealed that in the past four years, 77 per cent of over 11,000 students who passed out of hotel management and catering colleges in approved AICTE institutions got jobs, whereas only 40 per cent of engineers and technology graduates managed to find placement. Architects and town planning graduates fared even worse with only 35 per cent of them getting recruited.
While the above scenario reflects the position of well educated youth, the situation regarding those who are just passed out of school or involved in vocational training is even worse. With all talks of industrial activities increasing and diversification of agriculture, this has not translated into job creation. Thus, we hear that jobless growth has taken place which is quite dangerous for a country like India with huge population in the working age.
However, in January 2018 a Nasscom report documented creation of jobs in four core sectors: automotive, IT-BPM, retail and textiles. Between 2014 and 2017 a total of 1.4 crore new jobs have been created in these four sectors alone, with nearly 65 lakh new jobs in just the retail sector. Similarly, KPMG analysed travel and tourism and concluded that this sector is growing at 16 per cent per year and adding between 30-40 lakh new jobs every year. It further pointed out that job creation in many new industries such as e-commerce, aviation, mobility services, agri-processing is also not being captured in most traditional jobs data. However, even if these are taken into consideration, the job creation is far below normal.
The major reason for the lack of employment opportunities is poor development in rural and semi-urban areas and this has been the result of an urban bias in Indian planning followed for the last few decades. There was no serious plan to enhance employment opportunities over the years and respective governments did not consider this a serious issue. Moreover, the trends of mechanisation, not just in the industrial sector, but in agriculture too have resulted in such a situation, undoubtedly quite grave.
It is generally believed that this is an economic issue but the social repercussions of the lack of employment are indeed quite serious. The problems that are witnessed due to wayward youth have been reflected in various types of social upheavals, the manifestation of which has been seen in cases of rape, communal violence, torture of ordinary people, suicides etc on the rise.
Thus economic planning has to be so geared to ensure that employment opportunities are created, not just in the government but also in the private sector. Whether in the formal and informal sector, avenues need to be created so that people are gainfully employed. Obviously, to start with, in the education and health sectors immediate action should be taken to fill-up vacancies and teachers should be posted in rural and semi-urban areas where they are mostly needed.
There is obviously a nexus between rural revitalisation and employment generation. If the thrust on economic revival in rural areas is taken up seriously, job opportunities should improve in social and physical infrastructure. It may be mentioned in this connection that there is a recent plan by the IIT Council to create centres for rural development and technology at all IITs like the one existing in Delhi. Apparently, IITs such as in Mumbai, Kanpur, Jodhpur and IISc, Bangalore have already deliberated on such a proposal to create economic and employment opportunities.
In the proposed centres, technology focus would be on rural areas. All the departments in the IIT system are expected to play a major role in the vital technological needs of rural areas. Fool-proof solutions to the problems faced in the villages are expected to emerge after the centres become operational. Areas such as food processing, energy production – electricity producing plants running biomass and ethanol production – production of raw materials for chemical industries and solid waste recycling are likely to receive the focus of attention that would facilitate employment creation.
This apart there has to be a systematic plan to promote labour-intensive industries in small and micro sectors, where the employment potential is quite high. Plans such as these have been evolved from time to time but the net result in employment is what has to be seen. If the government is serious and concerned, a national strategy needs to be formulated with both the Centre and States working in tandem to ensure employment creation as also its success.
On the other hand, agricultural diversification and agro-based industries have to be promoted in a bigger way where skilled labour could be absorbed. The skill training which the government has started imparting has to be matched with employment generation or promotion of entrepreneurship. Added to all this, common service centres, most of which are now defunct due to lack of financial support, have to be revived and extended to cover at least 40 to 50 per of the villages.
Political talk without understanding the ground realities makes no sense. Moreover, creation of some jobs in cities in electronics and IT sectors hardly changes the employment needs of lakhs of technicians, engineers and skilled personnel. The approach has to be seen from below and rural areas have to be the nerve centres whose revival is critical to facilitate job creation.—INFA