While one way of going for inclusive growth is reservations, perhaps the most effective way will be bridging the gap between the needs of industry and the skill-sets of the socially disadvantaged. Many states have started initiatives that focus on training programmes to improve the employability of educated youth.
Over the last few years, AP has trained and helped over one lakh people from marginalised communities get jobs, while thousands have become entrepreneurs.
The AP government aims to create five lakh more manufacturing jobs by March ’09, and has started Jawahar Knowledge Centres to help poor students with engineering and other degrees improve their employability. Thousands who have thus augmented their skills have already landed jobs in companies like Infosys and Microsoft.
In Madhya Pradesh, over three lakh people have benefited from its District Poverty Initiative Project (DPIP). Those involved in the projects are heartened by the response from rural communities that are active partners in the project along with the government, NGOs and institutions like the World Bank. MP has been able to improve the employability of the poorest of poor.
According to Ravindra Pastor, coordinator of MP’s DPIP, “In the six years since we started with World Bank help, some 3,17,000 families have benefited. Of them, 56 per cent chose land-based activities, 22 per cent took up animal husbandry, the remaining started their own enterprise or took up jobs.” An independent survey reveals 29 per cent of the beneficiaries in MP are women, 25 per cent SC, 25 per cent ST and the rest economically weaker. Overall, about 40 per cent beneficiaries in various entrepreneurship and job-training schemes are women.
In Kerala, the standard instruction to state-run agencies is to help the poor generate self-employment. In 99.9 per cent cases, proposals from SC/STs for starting small-scale units are assisted, and put on the fast track.
However, some states are taking a narrower view to reserving the jobs in the industries of the state for its own people. As we all know it is troublesome and creates problems with huge immigrations in the country.Haryana is among the states, which stipulate that new industries give 25 per cent jobs to locals.
The hill states of HP and Uttarakhand too made it mandatory in ’03 for all new enterprises to allocate 70 per cent jobs to locals, though not on a caste basis. Between January ’03 and May ’07, 33,704 small-scale units were set up in HP with a capital investment of Rs 1,471.23 crore that meant 1,58,483 local jobs. Alongside, both HP and Uttarakhand are focusing on worker training.
The Velugu project (Indira Kranti Patham) has benefited 8 million women in AP, MP and Rajasthan. The World Bank has commenced a rural livelihood project in Bihar and is firming up similar projects in West Bengal and Orissa. Rajasthan emphasises on asset creation for inculcating a savings habit and making the beneficiaries bankable. “So far, some two lakh families have acquired livestock, started handloom-based enterprises or created land assets.”
Reservations do widen the social base of industry, but do not ensure retention or adequate wages unless backed by skill upgradation. States, NGOs, and private sector must get into skill building and training in big way. And with skill, one can get a well paying engagement easily in this vast world that is getting flat.