Unemployment Today

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Images – Courtesy Google

Increasing unemployment in India is creating serious threats to social equanimity, if this is not already been disrupted. With reports of Indians featuring on the list of richest men in the world, coupled with the fact that the rich are getting richer and poor are turning poorer in our country, the divide between the haves and the have-nots emerges as a critical social issue. It is time to be wary of fallouts of social disparity and look for ways to create employment opportunities.

Unemployment records in India are kept by Ministry of Labour and Employment of India. Even the UN keeps tabs on this issue and as per the UN Labour Report unemployment is projected to witness marginal increase between 2017 and 2018 signaling stagnation in job creation in India. The United Nations International Labour Organisation released its 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook report early this year. It projects economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs. It also predicts rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017.

In the present socio-economic scenario in our country it appears difficult to expect that employment options for the needy will pick up pace, anytime soon – either in what is left of the year or even in coming 2018. As job scarcity rises, what it really represents is a sad stagnation in percentage of people unable to remain gainfully employed. According to the UN report: “Unemployment in India is projected to increase from 17.7 million last year to 17.8 million in 2017 and 18 million next year. In percentage terms, unemployment rate will remain at 3.4 per cent in 2017-18”.

This is a dismal forecast, that in the same report makes projections stating that global unemployment levels and rates were expected to remain high in the short term! So even as the global labour force continues to grow, unemployment for our country shows that more unemployed people will be facing challenges to make a living. This will significantly affect inequality in incomes and wealth creation, thereby creating further disparities.

As we well know that the employment structure of an economy is the normal instrument that may cause changes in inequality, often for the worse. Since the government functions within its administrative and fiscal constraints, targeted programmes for employment generation only marginally impact income redistribution. Income flow on a larger scale can be influenced only when assets are made available along with promotion of new modes of employment opportunities.

In India, unemployed persons are individuals who are without income generating activities and who actively attempt to being gainfully employed. According to the India Skills Report launched in the 3rd CII National Conference on Skill Development only about 3.4% were found employable out of about 1, 00,000 candidates! This report not only captured the real skill levels of the talent pool that was created but also laid out the hiring estimates across major Industry sectors in the country.

It is clear that skills development is an area requiring urgent attention. A general trend seen to be readily acceptable by employers today is that they look for skills rather than qualifications, broadly speaking. Even so, despite having several sectors available – BFSI, BPO/ITES, manufacturing and so on, these do not bring on the expected changes in hiring patterns. Engineering, Hospitality and Travel have emerged as sectors with probable increase in the hiring numbers. What is then clear is that we need to develop a skilled employable pool (based on gender, age-group, identified domain, and so on) to facilitate entry as per industry needs.

HERD Foundation runs projects that help to homogenize society and that builds awareness on the need for economic well-being. Our development plans take on interventions that widen the scope for the poorest and marginalized people. We know for sure that skills development will be conducive for their betterment, besides creating a cadre of skilled workers. We are very keen to transform the existing unemployment scenario by provide employment-oriented education. The development of manpower for employment opportunities is a strategic necessity for accelerating economic growth. We are open to partnerships in this area, and seek hand-holding and support for such initiatives.

Poverty – Huge Barrier in Nation’s Development

Poverty In India

India is considered a fast growing economy in present day world. Astute economic development has been possible largely due to fairly stable political support given to the need. But despite political gambits we have not been able to share this rising fortune by redistributing gains fairly with our poorer populations. Despite the country’s spectacular GDP growth rates India remains poverty stricken. Acutely so in rural areas, that are home to 70% of its people.

What is reproachful is that our country spends only 4.1% of its GDP on health! This is half of what China spends and surprisingly public expenditure on health by Russia and Brazil exceeds ours. We in India have been fighting poverty for over sixty years now. And yet it remains rampant in the length and breadth of the country. Despite the anti-poverty policies since independence, decline in poverty appears nowhere in sight. Notwithstanding our entry into global markets we miserably lag behind.

The omnipresent face of poverty in India is there for all to see. India uses an income-based poverty definition and also consumption-based poverty statistics.You would be taken aback to learn that the latter norm was used  to measure by a poverty-line that follows the ridiculous and archaic “starvation line”. This insidious decisive factor accounted for the feeling of satiety, measured in calories! Of course the criteria has been under continuous flak. More so as World Bank’s contentious poverty line drew inspiration from the Indian model!

What this meant was that the bare minimum required for the human body to survive is what is said to be the threshold for allaying poverty!! Access to things like clean water, shelter or education is not a marker for defining poverty. It is a fact that 50% of Indians do not have proper shelter, 70% do not have access to toilets, 35% do not have access to water supply, 85% of villages do not have secondary schools/colleges and additionally they do not have roads connectivity.

How then, does an enhanced annual GDP growth help the situation? And what exactly are the political ramifications for including poverty line populations in the haphazard growth syndrome. Where do the 600 million poor figure in all of this. It looks like political parties and governments work for the well-off segments of populations, and pay mere lip-service to the poverty affected by allocating schemes that never really make a difference or amount to much. Moreover there is hardly any accountability ensuring outreach in terms of sustainability.

What needs to be done on a priority basis is to redefine the poverty line definition making it more comprehensive. It ought to include detailed parameters like education, sanitation, shelters, livelihoods and so on. In view of the large size of the country and also as poverty differs from region to region, criterion should be adapted as per state government regulations vis-à-vis the required pace of economic growth. Health, Education, Employment should be the three pronged road-map for Rural Development to alleviate poverty.

Special attention has to be focused on urban poverty syndrome that directly results in rural migration creating unemployment and poverty. Every state should work in a concerted manner via departmental inter-linkages to bring an end to poverty, along with slew of measures rather than simply ensuring minimum calorific survival rates. What should then be kept in mind and understood by all is that GDP is no indicator of ground realities as far as poverty prevalence is concerned.

Combating Poverty

Combating Poverty

August 9, International Day of Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples Logo

International Day for World Indigenous Peoples Logo

“The interests of the indigenous peoples must be part of the new development agenda in order for it to succeed… Together, let us recognize and celebrate the valuable and distinctive identities of indigenous peoples around the world. Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations. “

~~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

August 9, demarcated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was proclaimed as such by UN General Assembly that set aside the day for the well being of the world’s indigenous peoples. The second decade of this special day celebrates the thematic aspiration “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” This year’s focus aims at “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”.

The first “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” will be held on 22-23 September 2014. The meeting will be an opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, including pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The objective of this year’s theme will highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level.

HERD Foundation recognizes the importance of Article 366 (25) under Constitution of India, that defines our indigenous peoples as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342”. Article 342 prescribes the procedure for specification of a scheduled tribe that offers the oft-used criterion to identify such indigenous groups based on attributes like –

  • Geographical isolation – tribes living in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.
  • Backwardness – their livelihoods based on primitive agriculture, low-value closed economy with a low level of technology leading to poverty, and having low levels of literacy and health.
  • Distinctive culture, language and religion – communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.
  • Shyness of contact – having a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.

The Gond tribes settled in our parts comprise of the dominant tribal populations and they used to be largely concentrated in the hilly, forested tracts of the state. Gradually however our tribal people are being absorbed and are being included in urban mainstream population. There are said to be about 50 sub-groups of Gond tribes that inhabit much of the central parts of our country. They are known to be of Dravidian lineage linguistically and racially are said to belong to Proto-australoid stock.

The Gonds migrated in Central provinces from the south through Chanda and Bastar in 14th century where they established the Gond kingdom. The present city of Nagpur was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by the Gond Raja, Bakht Buland. They were warriors but are now tillers and animal grazers. They remain largely subjugated to low status and rural populations remain isolated.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides a focused approach on the integration of indigenous peoples of India with a view to develop their socio-economic positioning. The tribal departments are all working in a coordinated and planned manner to implement the overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of ST’s. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs remains the nodal Ministry for the welfare and activities for the development of indigenous peoples of India.

Tilling the Land

The Gonds Today