India is the world’s seventh largest country by area and the second most populated country in the world, only after China. India is one of the most rapid developing economies of the world. It has appreciated considerably in almost all sophisticated fields since its independence. The country is sometimes referred to as ‘The Flying Bird’, due to its quicker and smoother developmental activities. India is still a developing country, with still almost 40% of its people below the poverty line. It is racing away to develop substantially and join the league of developed nations by 2020. Today, I will highlight some issues which is hampering the economy and disturbing the fraternity of our society.
We begin with the issue of corruption. Corruption is the most widespread illegal activity in today’s competitive global world. It is a social stigma for the illiterate people who think that the upper strata of the society are robbing the lower strata’s already less and depleting resources. The rich people wants to expand their reach to particular places by giving or accepting monetary funds from a certain groups or individuals, to gain access to the resources possessed by a third party.
Morris Sr., an American political scientist, has defined corruption as – illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest or any third party concerned. It is generally considered an illegal activity by many. Nowadays, a term called ‘legal corruption’ is coming up, where people practise corruption openly and in the name of developing the economy. This is commonly practised across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where corruption rates are higher than the Gulf countries. Poverty, along with inequality, co-exists in large numbers.
Corruption in India is a major issue, and deemed harmful for a developing economy. This form of illegal practice is not new to the country. Corruption first came into being during the rule of Delhi Sultanate in the early 12th Century. According to historians, during the rule of Iltutmish, a ‘kazi’ named Mohammad Qausim was a witty and corrupt minister. He befriended many robbers and dishonest businesspersons and promised them that he would give them a treasure full of gold if they would kill and dethrone Iltutmish.
Owing to his cunning nature, his ‘friends’ managed to kill one of the trusted ministers of Iltutmish. Qausim was unhappy and decided to bribe them with a sack of rocks coated with golden paint. When the robbers and businesspersons came to know about it, they went to Iltutmish, who, at once, hanged Qausim, along with his acquaintances.
Corruption existed during the British rule in India. The Britishers used to bribe the Indians for their services, forced them to recruit people in the army, and made them believe that they would not hurt the locals and get better returns. Ultimately, they, like the locals, were treated harshly. If orders were disagreed, the Britishers would cruelly beat them black and blue or take away their lives.
Even after independence in 1947, corruption has been increasing substantially, especially since 1970s. It has been considered a social, economic and political burden on many innocent people who fall prey to such nefarious activities. Political scientists in India have divided corruption based on scales, depending upon the extent and the nature of such activities:-
- Petty Corruption – This illegal practice is petty in nature and restricted to a small group or an individual. It is generally performed on a smaller scale, and can be easily curbed, as the network here is too small and restricted within a particular circle.
- Endemic Corruption – This form of corruption is mainly restricted to some special groups, which are primarily due to the weaknesses of an organization or a process. It can be contrasted with individual officials or agents who act corruptly within the system. It generally takes place on a slightly larger scale, where there is a better network of communication.
- Grand Corruption – This form of corruption occurs at the highest levels of any institution, group or a government post. It is generally widespread and has a well-built network of communication. It is a huge task to curb grand corruption, as this form is large and wide. Such forms of corruption are generally found in countries where red tapism is abundant and the elected governments are not democratic in nature.
According to a report jointly prepared and published by United Nations Agencies and Transparency International, India is currently ranked 96th in 2013, tied with Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mongolia and Ivory Coast, up from the 106th position that was achieved in 2003. It is also said that around 55% of India’s population have performed either petty, endemic or grand corruption in order to satisfy their own necessities.
However, a report of the Transparency International of January 2014, has marked India at the 85th rank, significantly lower than China, currently ranked 100th. This ranking ensures India to have a lower corruption rate than China for the first time in the last 22 years. In addition, even after 64 years of democratic rule, this ‘bad omen’ has made the people so immune to corruption that they have learnt how to live with the system for such a long period. Since 2011, there has been a minute reduction in corruption activities due to some prominent anti-corruption movements, like the Anna Hazare’s ‘India Against Corruption’ movement. The key features of widespread corruption in India are:-
- Excessive regulations, complicated taxes and complex licensing systems, which local people commonly call it as ‘Mafia Raj’ or ‘License Raj’.
- Numerous government departments, each with opaque or transparent bureaucracy and discretionary powers.
- Increasing monopoly by public and private sector industries on certain goods and services, and the lack of transparent laws and processes.
- Lack of awareness among the people due to illiteracy. Some people are also made to believe and perform illegal and blue-collared jobs by the bureaucrats, in order to get money for their personal gains.
As government regulation of business was extended in the 1960s and corporate donations were banned in 1969, trading economic favours for under-the-table contributions to political parties became an increasingly widespread political practice. During the 1980s and 1990s, corruption became associated with the occupants of the India’s political system. Hence, corruption has been rising substantially since independence and at its peak in the mid-1970s.
However, there are certain ways to reduce the corruption level. Some analysts believe that one of the means for tackling corruption would be to curb the thriving use of financial resources by those who wish to stay in power. Various state governments, NGOs and individuals have suggested the following proposals:-
- The Right to Information Act (RTI) 2005 gives one all the required information about the governmental activities. Under this Act, one has the right to ask the central or state government on any problem one faces. There is a Public Information Officer (PIO) appointed in every government department, who is responsible for collecting information wanted by the citizens and providing them with the relevant information on payment of a nominal fee to the PIO. If the PIO refuses to accept the application or if the applicant does not receive the required information on time, then the applicant can make a complaint to the respective information commission, which has the power to impose a penalty up to Rs. 25,000 on the errant PIO. Hence, RTI can be strengthened and transparent in one way.
- The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was set up by the central government in 1984 to advise and guide the central government agencies in the areas of vigilance. If there are any cases of corruption or any complaints thereof, those can be reported to the CVC. The commission also shoulders the responsibility of creating more awareness among people regarding the consequences of giving and taking of bribes and other illegal activities of corruption.
- There should be ample establishment of special courts for speedy justice and trials can be a huge positive aspect. Strong and stringent laws need to be enacted that gives no room for the guilty to escape. In many cases, the employees opt for corrupt means out of compulsion and not by choice. Some people are of the opinion that the wages paid are insufficient to feed their families. If they are paid better, they would not be forced to accept bribes.
- The one thing that needs to be ensured is proper, impartial, and unbiased use of various anti-social regulations to take strong, deterrent, and timely legal action against the offenders, irrespective of their political influences or money power. Firm and strong steps are needed to curb the menace and an atmosphere has to created where the good and patriotic intellectuals come forward to serve the country with pride, virtue, and honesty for the welfare of the people of India.
The next problem existing in India is poverty. Poverty refers to the state of one, who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. In other words, it exists when people lack the means to satisfy their basic necessities. In this context, the identification of poor people first requires a determination of what constitutes basic needs.
These may be defined as narrowly as ‘those necessary for survival’ and ‘those reflecting the prevailing standard of living in the community.’ The first criterion would cover only those people near the borderline of starvation or death from exposure, and the second would extend to people whose nutrition, housing, and clothing, though adequate to preserve life, do not measure up to those of the population as a whole.
Poverty in India is widespread, and a variety of methods have been proposed to measure it. The official measure of Indian government before 2005, was based on food security and it was defined from per capita expenditure for a person to consume enough calories and be able to pay for associated essentials to survive. Since 2005, Indian government adopted the Tendulkar methodology, which moved away from the calorie anchor to a basket of goods and used rural, urban and regional minimum expenditure per capita necessary to survive.
Poverty has been associated, for example, with poor health, low levels of education or skills, an inability or an unwillingness to work, high rates of disruptive behaviour and improvidence. While these attributes have often been found to exist with poverty, their inclusion in a definition of poverty would tend to obscure the relation between them and the inability to provide for one’s basic needs. Whatever definition one uses, authorities and laypersons alike commonly assume that the effects of poverty are harmful to both individuals and society.
Although poverty is a phenomenon as old as human history, its significance has changed over time. Under traditional modes of economic production, widespread poverty had been accepted as inevitable. The total output of goods and services, even if equally distributed, would still have been insufficient to give the entire population a comfortable standard of living by prevailing standards. Several types of poverty may be distinguished depending on such factors as time or distribution. But there are two main types of poverty, which is prevalent in India:-
- Cyclical Poverty – Cyclical poverty refers to that poverty which may be widespread throughout a population, but the occurrence itself is of limited duration. In non-industrialised countries, this sort of inability to provide for one’s basic needs rests mainly upon temporary food shortages caused by natural phenomena or poor agricultural planning. Prices would rise because of scarcities of food, which brought widespread, albeit temporary, misery.
In industrialized societies the chief cyclical cause of poverty is fluctuations in the business cycle, with mass unemployment during periods of depression or serious Throughout the early 20th and 21th centuries, the industrialized nations of the world including India, experienced business panics and recessions that temporarily enlarged the numbers of the poor.
- Collective Poverty – In contrast to cyclical poverty, which is temporary or widespread, collective”poverty involves a relatively permanent insufficiency of means to secure basic needs – a condition that may be in general as to describe the average level of life in a society or that may be concentrated in relatively large groups in an otherwise prosperous society. Both generalized and concentrated collective poverty may be transmitted from generation to generation, parents passing their poverty on to their children. Collective poverty is usually related to economic underdevelopment.
Collective poverty is relatively general and lasting in parts of Asia, the Middle East, most of Africa, and parts of South America and Central America. Life for the bulk of the population in these regions is at a minimal level. Nutritional deficiencies cause disease seldom seen by doctors in the highly developed countries. Low life expectancy, high levels of infant mortality, and poor health characterize life in these societies.
Poverty is quite abundant in India. It has existed for ages now. Poverty is not new to the country. During the British rule, many people were treated harshly and forcefully abducted strong men, who were considered the breadwinners of their families. These families often get into financial debts and if they went against the British, they would kill the entire family. Famines and droughts too, added to their miseries. Thus, forced poverty existed in pre-independence India.
When India finally gained independence from Great Britain in 1947, the percentage of forced poverty increased fourfold, most probably due to the after effects of the British rule and their autocratic policies. There was poverty everywhere and a feeling of gloominess and loneliness was being felt by the poverty stricken families. Many prominent leaders like Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. B.R Ambedkar and others attempted to devise a poverty line to measure the poverty and introduced several poverty alleviation programmes. However, poverty still exists in India, mostly in rural areas even after 68 years of independence.
The World Bank has similarly revised its definition and benchmarks to measure poverty since 1990, with $ 1.25 per day income on purchasing power parity basis as the definition in use from 2005 to 2013. Some semi-economic and non-economic indices have also been proposed to measure poverty in India. For example, the multi-dimensional Poverty Index placed 33% weight on number of years spent in school and education and 6.25% weight on financial condition of a person, in order to determine if that person is poor.
The different definitions and different underlying small sample surveys used to determine poverty in India, have resulted in widely different estimates of poverty from 1950s to 2010s. In 2013, the Indian government stated that 21.1% of its population is below its official poverty limit. The World Bank, in 2010 based on 2005’s PPPs International Comparison Program estimated 32.7% of Indian population, or about 400 million people, lived below $ 1.25 per day on purchasing power parity basis. According to the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated 30% of Indians lived below poverty line in 2009-2010. According to the data released by the Indian Government for 2014-15, the official poverty rate stands at 18.5%.
Rapid economic growth since 1991, has led to sharp reductions in extreme poverty in India. However, those above poverty line live a fragile economic life. Lack of basic essentials of life such as safe drinking water, sanitation, housing, health infrastructure as well as malnutrition impact the lives of hundreds of millions. The World Bank reviewed and proposed revisions in May 2014, to its poverty calculation methodology and purchasing power parity basis for measuring poverty worldwide, including India. According to this revised methodology, the world had 872.3 million people below the new poverty line, of which 179.6 million people lived in India. In other words, India with 17.5% of total world’s population had 20.6% share of world’s poorest as of now in June 2014.
According to a 2011 poverty Development Goals Report, as many as 320 million people in India and China are expected to come out of extreme poverty in the next four years, with India’s poverty rate projected to drop from 51% in 1990 to about 22% in 2015. The report also indicates that in Southern Asia, only India is on track to cut poverty by half by 2016-17.
Global Hunger Index (GHI) is an index that places a third of weight on proportion of the population that is estimated to be undernourished, a third on the estimated prevalence of low body weight to height ratio in children younger than five, and remaining third weight on the proportion of children dying before the age of five for any reason. According to a 2011 GHI report, India has improved its performance by around 25% in 24 years, from 31.4% to 18.8% from 1990 to 2014.
Many poverty alleviation programmes have been launched and introduced by the central government in order to reduce poverty and bringing a balance in regional development altogether. These programmes are a combination of other programmes related to wage employment, self-employment, food security and social security. Some important programmes are listed as follows:-
- The most important and the largest programme employed to cover the entire length and breadth of the country is the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). The NREGA bill notified in 2005 and came into force in 2006 and further modified it as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2008. This scheme guarantees 100 days of paid work to people in the rural areas. The scheme has proved to be a major boost in Indian rural population’s income. To augment wage employment opportunities by providing employment on demand and thereby extend a security net to the people and simultaneously create durable assets to alleviate some aspects of poverty and address the issue of development in the rural areas.
- The National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) is a scheme provided pension to old people who are the above the age of 60 who could not fend for themselves and did not have any means of subsistence. The pension that was given was Rs. 200 a month. This pension is given by the central government. The job of implementation of this scheme in states and union territories is given to panchayats and municipalities. The state’s contribution may vary depending on the state. The amount of old age pension is Rs. 200 per month for applicants aged 60-79. For applicants aged above 80 years, the amount has been revised in Rs. 500 a month, according to the 2012-13 Union Budget of India.
- The largest urban poverty alleviation programme currently operating in the country is the Urban Basic Services for Poor (UBSP). It is based on the principle of community development involving the community, especially women to improve their communities and environment. This programme is implemented in 25 states and 6 union territories covering 296 cities. Ten million urban poor are benefited from this programme. More than 130,000 women work as volunteers in this programme. The programme is a partnership of city, state and central governments along with NGOs and UNICEF.
- Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana or SGRY was launched in 2001. The three-fold objective of this programme is generation of employment for the rural poor, creation of community assets and infrastructure, and ensuring food and nutrition security for the rural poor. It covers all villages of the country and many villagers have been benefitted from this scheme.
- The National Maternity Benefit Scheme or NMBS provides a sum of Rs. 500 to a pregnant mother for the first two live births. The women have to be older than 19 years of age. It is given normally 8-12 weeks before the birth and in case of the death of the child the women can still avail it. The NMBS is implemented by states and union territories with the help of panchayats and municipalities. During 1999-2000, the total allocation of funds for this scheme was 767.05 crores and the amount used was Rs 4444.14 crores.
- Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana or SGSY is a programme that was launched in 1999. The SGSY is a holistic programme and aims at covering all aspects of self-employment, namely, organisation of rural poor, training, participatory approach to planning of self-employment ventures and provision of infrastructure facilities, technology, credit and marketing arrangements.
- Jawahar Rozgar Yojana or JRY was launched as a ‘Centrally Sponsored Scheme’ in 1989 by merging National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP). Its main objective was generation of additional gainful employment for the unemployed and under-employed people in rural areas through the creation of rural economic infrastructure, community and social assets with the aim of improving the quality of life of the rural poor, in order to eradicate poverty.
- The Indira Awas Yojana was launched in 1985. This scheme aimed at creating housing for everyone. It aimed at creating 20 lakh housing units out of which 13 lakhs were in rural areas. This scheme also would give out loans to people at subsidized rates to make houses. It was started in 1999-2000. In 1999-2000, Rs. 1438.39 crores was used for this scheme and about 7.98 lakh units were built. In 2000-01, a central outlay of Rs. 1710.00 crores was provided for this scheme.
- The Annapurna Scheme was started by the government in 1999-2000 to provide food to senior citizens who cannot take care of themselves and are not under the National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS), and who have no one to take care of them in their village. This scheme would provide 10 kg of free food grains a month for the eligible senior citizens. The allocation for this scheme as of 2011-2012 was Rs. 350 crores.
Another social issue which is continuously debated in India is literacy and unemployment. Both literacy and unemployment have somewhat a direct relationship. In a country, adequate literacy and employment rates should be required for skill and expertise, which is required for developing their nations, in both economically and financially stable way. If it is in the reversing trend, then the economy will grow slowly and crime rates will start shooting up, due to desolation and loneliness of not getting a job.
Before we come to the meaning of illiteracy, first let us know what do you mean by being literate in a brief sense? Literacy is a key for empowering one’s own personality. It is also the pathway for smooth socio-economic development. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines literacy as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. It involves a process of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.
The inability to do so is called illiteracy. Illiteracy can cause havoc to both individuals and social development. Also, the economy gets hampered as the workforce does not have any knowledge and ability to carry out a particular task. Many policy analysts consider literacy rates as a crucial measure of the value of a region’s human capital. For example, literate people can be more easily trained than illiterate people. They generally have a higher socio-economic status thus they enjoy better health and employment prospects. Literacy increases job opportunities and access to higher education, as compared to illiterate people.
Literacy in India is a key for socio-economic progress. The literacy rate has grown to 74.04% (2011 Census of India) from 12% at the end of British rule in 1947. Although this was a greater than six-fold improvement, the level is well below the world average literacy rate of 84%. Of all nations, India currently has the largest illiterate population in the world. The 2011 Census, however, indicated a 2001-2011 decadal literacy growth of 9.2%, which is the slower than the growth seen during the previous decade. There is a wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in India.
The effective literacy rates in 2011 were 82.14% for men and 65.46% for women. The low female literacy rate has had a dramatically negative impact on family planning and population stabillisation efforts in India. The census provided a positive indication that growth in female literacy rates (11.8%) was substantially faster than in male literacy rates (6.9%) in the 2001-2011 decadal period, which means the gender gap appears to be narrowing substantially.
There are many reasons for the low literacy rate, particularly among women in India. One of the main factors contributing to this relatively low literacy rate is the lack of proper school facilities as well as the sheer inefficiency of teaching staff across the government run education sector. There is a shortage of classrooms to accommodate all the students in 2006-2007. In addition, there is no proper sanitation in most schools. Severe caste disparities also exist. Discrimination of lower castes has resulted in high dropout rates and low enrollment rates.
The National Sample Survey Organisation and the National Family Health Survey collected data in India on the percentage of children completing primary school, which are reported to be only 36.8% and 37.7% respectively. Due to strong stereotyping of female and male roles, Sons are thought of to be more useful and hence are educated. Females are pulled to help out on agricultural farms at home as they are increasingly replacing the males on such activities which require no formal education. Fewer than 2% of girls who engaged in agriculture work attended school.
The right to education is a fundamental right, and UNESCO aims at education for everyone by 2025. India, along with the Arab states and sub-Saharan Africa, has a literacy level below the threshold level of 84%, but efforts are on to achieve that level. The campaign to achieve at least the threshold literacy level represents the largest ever civil and military mobilisation in the country. International Literacy Day is celebrated each year on September 8 with the aim to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
Many policies and programmes have been launched by the central government in order to achieve a universal literacy rate by 2030. Some are highlighted below:-
- The National Literacy Mission (NLM), launched in 1988 imparts functional literacy to non-literates in the age group of 35-75 years. The Total Literacy Campaign is the principal strategy of the NLM for eradication of illiteracy. The Continuing Education Scheme provides a learning continuum to the efforts of the Total Literacy and Post literacy programmes. Ever since its inception the National Literacy Mission has taken measures to strengthen its partnership with NGOs and to evolve both institutional and informal mechanisms to give voluntary organisations active promotional role in the literacy movement. Now under the scheme of Support to NGOs they are encouraged and provided with financial assistance to run post literacy and continuing education programmes in well-defined areas.
- In order to promote decentralization, the State Literacy Mission Authorities have been given the authority to sanction continuing education projects to Districts and literacy related projects to voluntary agencies in their respective states. The scheme of Jan Shikshan Sansthan or Institute of People’s Education, previously known as the Scheme of Shramik Vidyapeeth was initially evolved as a non-formal continuing education programme to respond to the educational and vocational training needs of adults and young people living in urban and industrial areas and for persons who had migrated from rural to urban settings. Now the Institutes’ activities have been enlarged and infrastructure strengthened to enable them to function as district level repositories of vocational and technical skills in both urban and rural areas. At present there are 221 Jan Shikshan Sansthans in the India.
- The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Total Literacy Campaign) was launched in 2001 to ensure that all children in the 6-14 year age group attend school and complete eight years of schooling by 2010. An important component of the scheme is the Education Guarantee Scheme and Alternative and Innovative Education, meant primarily for children in areas with no formal school within a one kilometre radius.
- The centrally sponsored District Primary Education Programme, launched in 1994, had opened more than 160,000 new schools by 2005, including almost 84,000 alternative schools. Social Education, implemented in the First Five Year Plan (1951-56).The programme gave importance to literacy, extension, general education, leadership training and social consciousness.
- Gram Shikshan Mohim is a movement for literacy in the rural areas started first in Satara district of Maharashtra in 1959 which was later extended to other parts of the state. The programme aimed at imparting basic literacy skills within a period of four months. Later, in the 1970s, it covered the rural areas of the whole country.
- Farmer’s Functional Literacy Project (FFLP) was started in 1967-68 as an inter-ministerial project for farmers’ training and functional literacy. The project aimed at popularisation of high yielding varieties of seeds through the process of adult education in 144 districts.
- Functional Literacy for Adult Women (FLAW) was started in 1975-76 in the experimental Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) project areas. The scheme included a component which enabled illiterate adult women to acquire functional skills along with literacy, to gain better awareness of health, hygiene, child care practices and in the process facilitated attitudinal changes.
- National Adult Education Programme (NAEP) was launched on October 2, 1978. This was the first programme in India taken up at macro level to eradicate illiteracy through project approach. It was a massive programme aimed at educating 100 million non-literate adults in the age group of 15-35 years within a timeframe of five years.
- Rural Functional Literacy Project (RFLP) is to impart functional literacy to all illiterate persons in 15-35 age group who are living in the rural areas by organising specified number of literacy centres in accordance with the norms and guidelines issued by the Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India from time to time.
Unemployment refers to the condition of one who is capable of working, actively seeking work, but unable to find any work. It is important to note that to be considered unemployed a person must be an active member of the labour force and in search of remunerative work. Unemployment is serious problem that our government faces. Our leaders are trying their utmost best to solve it wisely. If it is not solved sooner, a social revolution may take plea to have its solution.
The main cause of unemployment is the repetitive growth of population. Since independence the populations of India has increased by threes times its total. When people multiply, there raises the problems of unemployment and it becomes difficult for government to provide employment to a sufficient number of people. As a matter of principle it becomes the duty of government to provide employment to all as far as possible and we are blessed that our government is taking keen interest to solve this series problem of today. As the growth of populations is going unchecked, jobs and services in a given field commonly remains insufficient. When our youths do not find employment despite their best efforts, they get irritated and feel disappointed.
Underemployment is the term used to designate the situation of those who are able to find employment only for shorter than normal periods – part-time workers, seasonal workers or casual workers. The term may also describe the condition of workers whose education or training make them overqualified for their jobs.
Statistics on unemployment are collected and analysed by government labour offices in most countries and have come to be considered a chief indicator of economic health. Trends in unemployment and statistical differences among groups in the population are studied for what they may reveal of general economic trends and as bases for possible governmental action.
Full employment has been a stated goal of many governments since the Second World War, and a variety of programs have been devised to attain it. It should be pointed out that full employment is not necessarily synonymous with a zero unemployment rate, for at any given time the unemployment rate will include some number of persons who are between jobs and not unemployed in any long-term sense.
Unemployment records in India are kept by the Ministry of Labour and Employment of India. From 1983 till 2011, Unemployment rates in India averaged 900 percent reaching an all time high of 9.4% in 2009 and a record low of 3.8% in 2013. In India, the unemployment rate measures the number of people actively looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force. Currently in 2015, India’s unemployment rate has increased slightly to 5.3% due to the slowdown of the Indian economy.
According to NSS Report from Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India published in 2013, Kerala has the highest unemployment rate and ranks worst, while Rajasthan and Gujarat had the least unemployment rates among major states of India. The national average for unemployment rate stands at 10% currently. In order to reduce unemployment, government has made special efforts to develop small and cottage industries.
In 1995-96, about 33 lakh persons were employed in these industries. Many people are getting employment in organized public and private sectors. In 1995-96, nearly 340 lakh persons got employment in large industries. In 1961, the organized public sector provided employment to 70 lakh persons. It now provides employment to 1 crore and 92 lakh persons. Likewise, in 1961, the revamped private sector provided employment to 50 lakh persons. In 2000, it further provided employment to 89 lakh persons. Some special programmes related to curbing unemployment only are:-
- The Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) was launched in 70 such districts of 13 states as were prone to drought. The programme has proved fruitful particularly in removing seasonal unemployment. In the Sixth Five Year Plan, the programme provided 17 crore and 70 lakhs employment opportunities. In the same period, a sum of Rs. 301 crores was made on the programme. In the Seventh Five Year Plan Plan, Rs. 474 crores has been spent for the programme.
- This programme was launched in 1979 by the Government of India. It is called the National Scheme of Training of Rural Youth for Self Employment (TRYSEM). The main objective of this programme is to reduce unemployment among the youth. During Seventh Plan about 11.6 lakh youth were imparted training under the programme. During training period, young men are given financial assistance. On completion of training, they are asked to prepare project report. Arrangements are made to get them financial assistance from the banks. Every trained youth is given a financial help varying from Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000 to start his work.
- The national government has set up about 890 ‘Employment Exchanges’ for offering information on the possible vocational avenues. These exchanges do not provide employment directly but are of great assistance in directing the jobseeker to the possible areas of employment. The Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) was launched in 1994, in 1752 backward blocks in the country. The main objective was to provide 100 days of unskilled manual work to the rural poor who are seeking full employment.
- The Prime Minister’s Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Programme (PMIUPEP) has been implemented in 1995-96. This programme aims at to provide employment to the urban poor. It covers 50 lakh urban poor living in 345 towns. The central government will incur an expenditure of Rs. 800 crores this programme during a period of five years.
- Lastly, the recent scheme launched by the central government is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. It is a scheme for comprehensive financial inclusion launched by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on August 28, 2014. Run by Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, on the inauguration day, 1.5 crore bank accounts were opened under this scheme. By September 2014, 3.02 crore accounts were opened, with around Rs. 1500 crores were deposited under the scheme, which also has an option for opening new bank accounts with zero balance. Under the scheme:-
- Account holders will be provided zero-balance bank account with a RuPay debit card, in addition to accidental insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh.
- Those who open accounts by January 20, 2015 over and above the ₹ 1 lakh accident, they will be given life insurance cover of Rs 30,000.
- After six months of opening of the bank account, holders can avail ₹ 5,000 loan from the bank.
- With the introduction of new technology introduced by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), a person can transfer funds, check balance through a normal phone, which was earlier limited only to smart phones so far.
- Mobile banking for the poor would be available through National Unified USSD Platform (NUUP) for which all banks and mobile companies have come together.
After thoroughly seeing all endless numbers of pro-poor policies and programmes implemented by successive governments, it is generally hoped, that such programmes, when enforced in a well-organised cadre, will benefit thousands of poor people, and this will contribute to the national income of our country and make India a economically friendly nation. After all, since the country has a rich diverse heritage and culture along with these people, developing and upgrading their lifestyles will certainly bring huge positive impacts and differences within the country, and ultimately, helping India to thrive with people of equal needs in the long-run and vice versa, as mentioned in the Indian Constitution.