For jobs, protect unorganised sector–Deccan Herald–15.03.2018

The rich diversity of Indian culture creates demand for a wide range of products and services. People from different regions have developed different food habits, dresses and services as per the agro-climatic zones, traditions, myths and beliefs. All these things contribute to weaving a fine fabric of self-sustainable economic activities in the unorganised sector which provide self-employment to millions of people irrespective of their caste, religion, region and educational standard.
Those small people once contributed to making India the richest country in the world. They added high value to ordinary cloth, wood, grass, bone, horn, ivory and metal with their skill and imagination. India amassed wealth from the export of handicrafts, gold and silver ornaments, spices, silk, muslin, cotton and wootz steel, etc. In the first century AD, India’s hand-woven clothes were so popular among Roman women that the Roman senate had to put a trade embargo on the import of such popular varieties from India. The popularity of Indian textiles forced William III of England to enact a law to prohibit the sale of Indian textiles in England. Historians note that for about 1,700 years, until 1700 AD, India’s share in world GDP was 35-40%.
People in the unorganised sector still produce the widest range of biodegradable utility and decorative items, hand-woven fabrics, traditional medicines, footwear, dresses and a variety of eatables. There are farmers, weavers, artisans, carpenters, masons, washerman, ironsmith, goldsmith, fisherfolk, cobbler, eatable makers, daily wagers, collectors of minor forest products and traditional medicine practitioners, etc., who contribute to the economy and social wellbeing.
As per the NSSO survey, the unorganised sector has the largest share in the economy in terms of value addition, savings and investments, etc. The Ministry of Labour and Employment has estimated that the unorganised sector adds more than 60% of the national income and half of India’s GDP. The employment potential of the unorganised sector is immense.
According to NSSO survey 2009–10, the total employment in the country was of 46.5 crore, out of which 43.7 crore workers were in the unorganised sector. Economic Survey 2017 found that the unorganised sector employs 94% of the workforce and produces about 45% of the total output of the country. Most of the survey reports seem to be copied from previous reports and pasted with a gentle twist of sentences, alteration of paragraphs, slight change in numbers, a change of headline, etc. The lack of a proper understanding of the unorganised sector among economists and planners is the main reason why this sector, despite making substantial contribution to the economy, has a large number of poor people.
T S Thakur, Supreme Court justice and the executive chairman of the National Legal Services Authority has reportedly said, that “the largest constituency of our workers is in unorganised labour. Of the 46 crore workers, 14 crore are women. Every state has poverty alleviation schemes, but the benefits don’t reach them.”
The growing stress in the unorganised sector is bound to aggravate India’s jobs problem. One million people join the workforce every month. The ILO report, ‘World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018’ estimated that three-quarters of the Indian workforce will be in ‘vulnerable employment’ by 2019. The Centre plans to assign a unique identity to unorganised sector workers which will give them social security benefits, including health insurance and old age pension.
In fact, more than social security benefits, people in the unorganised sector need honest police personnel, transparent banking facilities, efficient judges, kind doctors, dedicated teachers and honest media people, etc. The Centre instead of giving subsidies should spend more on morality-based quality education so that children grow into honest, disciplined and responsible citizens who can help improve governance, which will ultimately let the self-sustainable unorganised sector survive.
A large number of eatable makers have the skill to make varieties of mouth-watering dishes. The eatables sector can generate huge employment and revenue if the governance mechanism ensures that the raw materials used for preparing food are pure. All shopping malls should have an exclusive section for products sourced directly from the unorganised sector. All public sector organisations should necessarily source their office stationery, furniture, gifts, curtains, mattresses directly from unorganised sector. It is impossible to provide quality jobs to 131 crore people in urban centres. So, a performing unorganised sector always fills the jobs gap.
The responsibility of the government is to ensure two minimum basic needs: quality school education and health facility to people. The Indian political class, instead of mudslinging against each other, should use their vast volunteer forces to physically monitor government hospitals, education centres, village ponds, rivers, wells, market yards, railway stations, bus stops, etc., on regular basis. The life, livelihood and productivity of people in the unorganised sector depend on the quality of the basic amenities, transparent market, cash availability and human sensitivity.

via For jobs, protect unorganised sector

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