Give Me a Hammer
Put a hammer in my hand,
one that’s heavy and firm.
Let me feel its weight.
Let me swing it down with my strength.
So I can feel the power.
So I can feel the pride
to be working again.
Put a check my pocket,
one that’s earned with sweat and toil.
Let me feel its edge.
Let me see its numbers.
So I can take it the bank.
So I can feel the pride.
to be working again.
Put a little hope in me,
one that’s steeped in pride.
Let me have a future for me.
Let me have a future for my family.
So I can stand tall
So I can feel the pride
to be working again.
It’s not much I ask for.
It’s not the dream of dreams.
But it is a start
to feel alive again
as I bring that hammer down
and realize I’m working once again.
Another issue that is prevalent in India that really hunts me is – Unemployment.
The unemployment scenario in India has always been quite acute. With a huge population and slow growth of job opportunities, unemployment has been widespread in India. Large scale unemployment has led to several socio-economic problems like poverty, malnutrition, antisocial and criminal activities, drug and substance abuse, etc. The lack of proper unemployment insurance schemes has further aggravated this problem.
In the early 1990s, major economic reforms were undertaken in India. One of the major objectives of these economic reforms was to boost employment in the Indian economy. However, though the economic reforms were successful in raising productivity and attracting FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), the growth in job opportunities was not as high as had been expected.
Types of Unemployment:
- Seasonal Unemployment
Isn’t the farmer going to be busy tilling his land in the off season? Not if you’re part of the 70% of farmers who own so little land that they’re done with all of their off-season duties regarding in under a month.
That means that in order to support their family, they often have to work as seasonal employees on other people’s farms or as daily wage laborers, often at remuneration that is far lower than what they would have earned had they owned more land.
- Disguised Unemployment
Unless you skipped a week’s worth of Indian Social Studies classes, this is probably the most well know form of unemployment in India.
What many of us weren’t taught was that despite the reported rate of disguised unemployment going up, there is a rising number of people who’re inefficiently employed in rural India who aren’t factored in the reported numbers.
For the uninitiated, disguised unemployment is when on a field that can adequately be farmed by 2 people, 4 are employed. In most cases, the 4 usually belong to the same family and since they have an idle pair of hands, they all go to work on the same field.
- Cyclical Unemployment
The import duty on tractors just got cut by half! The price of diesel and electricity is going to be subsidized for farming next month!
What do the bigger farm-owners do now? Buy a Rs. 50,000/yr. tractor or keep aging twice of that amount to the laborer? It is obvious where this is going, but why this would contribute to unemployment without adversely affecting production is a different story altogether.
Remember, the 70% farmer who was burdened by seasonal unemployment? Well, he just lost his off-season job!
Of course, policy changes and technological improvements are inevitable and they have been ‘taking away jobs’ since the industrial revolution began. However, developing a fail-safe for the willing-to-work will require a few tricky policy maneuvers, for example, SEZs.
The reason that this kind of unemployment is known as cyclical unemployment is because it is caused by macro-scale cycles that are outside the control of the individual and in many cases, entire industries. These cyclic iterations include policy changes, technological innovation as well as the bane of the small farmer – rainfall.
- Structural Unemployment
While this might be considered a part of cyclical unemployment, it merits its own category because it is something that is easier to tackle.
For example, the use of synthetic cotton blends with rayon are becoming popular, which means that a big consumer of the cotton production – the clothing industry would be changing the factors involved in the production of their goods.
While the farmers will face the brunt of the decreased demand, many of the individual doing manual labor on the farm itself can be retrained for production level jobs in the garment industry quite easily. Combine that with a few policy based incentives and tax cuts to corporations and you’ll see a perceptible jump in the general welfare of the local community.
Causes of unemployment:
Some of the important aspects related to the unemployment scenario in India are:
- The growth in labor force in India is much higher than the growth of jobs.
- Actual employment figures in India have mostly fallen short of estimated figures, as per the five year plans. The unorganized sector in India accounts for 90% of the employment.
- The unorganized sector consists of agricultural workers in the rural areas and contract and sub-contract laborers in the urban areas.
- Self-employment accounts for more than 60% of the employed population of India. Casual workers, who get jobs only at times and remain unpaid when they don’t have work, constitute 30% of the workforce, while only 10% are regular employees. Merely two-fifth of this 10% is employed in the government sector.
- Around 70% of the labor force in India has education below primary level or is illiterate.
- Another important factor in the unemployment scenario in India is underemployment. There exists very high underemployment in various sectors of the labor force in India. Disguised unemployment also exists in various sectors of the Indian economy. Regional imbalances in the unemployment scenario in India are another important factor. While some areas have higher employment opportunities, some areas have very low opportunities of employment. This has led to inter-state labor migration in the Indian economy.
Causes of unemployment in the agricultural sector:
Recent studies have revealed the fact that growth of unemployment in India at current rates can lead to devastating results. At this rate, India is expected to have a 30% unemployment rate by 2020. This would mean that there would be 21 Crore jobless people in India. The decline in job creation in agriculture has been identified as one of the important reasons behind the increasing unemployment in India.
The lack of unemployment in the primary sector has a different root altogether. During the 1990’s when the economic reform was under taken by India under Narasimha Rao, majority of the primary sector workers lost their jobs. The reason being, under the economic reform by the World Trade Centre (WTC), a nation adopting the economic reform has to:
- Liberalize the imports of agriculture
- Cut back on agricultural subsidies
- Restrict easy and low cost loans
- Cut back on government investment in agriculture
- Restructure the Public Distribution System
- Create and promotes Special Economic Zones
Due to the coming of such stringent laws and regulation on the agricultural sector, the gap between the employed and the unemployed started to rise.
Ways to eradicate unemployment:
- Right to Work: The Constitution of India, under Article 41, provides that »the State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want«. Article 38 states that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people; Article 43 states it shall endeavor to secure a living wage and a decent standard of living to all workers. These promises are part of the Directive Principles of state policy of the Constitution of India.
- Employment Exchange: The Employment Exchange organisation, operated by the Federal Ministry of Lab our, runs more than 900 individual employment exchanges in order to better match demand and supply with regard to work opportunities. Job seekers register with these employment exchanges and are notified as soon as any vacancy in the government sector matches their profile. According to the Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification of Vacancies) Act of 1959, in any State or area thereof, the employer in every establishment in the public sector in that State or area shall – before filling any vacancy in any employment in that establishment – notify that vacancy to such employment exchanges as may be prescribed. Employment exchanges play a significant role in assisting young people in finding employment. They also assist them in starting self-employment ventures through vocational guidance activities. Registering the applications of job seekers and notifying them about vacancies, collection and dissemination of employment market information, vocational guidance for students and young people are the major functions of employment exchanges.
- Vocational Training: India needs to train 70 million people in vocational skills over the next five years. In addition, there is a need to retrain another 360 million workers. The government’s target is to train 500 million people by 2022, also by encouraging the participation of entrepreneurs and private organisations. The target is high. The workability of the structure that India has developed would depend on the capacity of the people who are responsible for reaching the objectives. Efforts over the past few years have not yielded satisfactory results with regard to the achievement of the objective in a defined period. Against the background of a huge gap between skills demand and supply, India has taken the initiative to develop a system of vocational training. Under the system, young people are provided with skills-related training. The Directorate General of Employment and Training under the Ministry of Labor of the GOI formulates policies, laying down norms and standards and conducting trade tests and certification of vocational training under the aegis of the training advisory body, the National Council of Vocational Training. The main objective of the scheme is to provide employable skills to school leavers, existing workers and IT graduates. Youth employability must be increased through skill development and vocational training. The GOI has realized the importance of skills. A Coordinated Action Plan for skill development has been approved by the Cabinet to have a target of 500 million skilled persons by 2022. »A three-tier institutional structure consisting of: (i) the Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development, (ii) the National Skill Development Coordination Board and (iii) the National Skill Development Corporation, has been set up to take forward the Skill Development Mission (GOI 2010: 205).This is an important initiative (S. Manhendra Dev 2011).
- Employment Generation Programmes: In recent years, Employment Generation Programmes (EGP) have emerged as an important employment policy tool, particularly in developing countries such as India. This policy package includes a wide range of activities intended to increase labor demand (for example, direct job creation); to increase the quality of labour supply (training and retraining); or to improve the matching of workers and jobs (job search assistance). Significant economic and social benefits are expected to accrue from these measures. More recently, the case for EGPs has also emphasised the potential social benefits in the form of inclusion and participation that comes from productive employment. EGPs can serve equity objectives as well, most obviously when programmes are targeted at vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. The major programmes that are currently in operation in India are: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) and the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). The MNREGA provides for 100 days of unskilled manual labor per year on public works projects for any rural household member who wants such work at the stipulated minimum wage rate. The aim is to dramatically reduce poverty by providing extra earnings for poor families, as well as empowerment and insurance. If the programme had worked the way it was designed to, then anyone who wanted work would get it. However, an analysis of data from India’s National Sample Survey for 2009–2010 reveals considerable unmet demand for work in all States. The extent of the unmet demand is greater in the poorest States – ironically, where the scheme is needed most. Labor-market responses to the scheme are weak. The scheme is attracting poor women into the workforce, although the local-level rationing processes favor men.
So many out there sleep every praying to God each night, hoping they get the job as a cleaner of a huge Media company or as the chai wala of a big BPO, and wishing their lives change forever.