Reducing unemployment may involve a power shift away from large corporations to local employment.

Delegates meet in Delhi at the "Desh Ki Baat" Conference to discuss the challenges of employment policy: Follow up recommendations provided below

Follow up recommendations to labour meeting in New Delhi to discuss possible solutions on unemployment crisis in India

Written on April 8, 2022 by Pravin J P Arapurakal, National President of the Shramik Vikas Sangathan and Member of the Kerala State Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party

Leaders from over 160 organizations convened on Delhi to participate in Desh Ki Baat Foundation's National Symposium on Unemployment organized on  March, 23rd & 24th, 2022. This article attempts to follow up on the event and suggest some ways we could begin solving the unemployment problem. 

The event was a monumental feat of organization inspired by Aam Aadmi Party leader Gopal Rai and a talented team or organizers led by Desh Ki  Baat's Convenor, Krishna Yadav.

Leaders from 15 labour unions meet to discuss the challenges of unemployment policy. Minister Gopal Rai (in Green with black vest) is in the Center. To his left is Ms A R Sindhu, the National Secretary of CITU. To the left of Ms Sindhu in the second row is the author of this article Pravin J P Arapurakal.

The key issue is: Can we make an effective Case for a Right to Work law.

  1. We already have though the Indian Constitution a "Right to Live."

  1. Then some 12 years ago the UPA government passed the "Right to Food" Act.

  1. Now that we all understand that a Right to Work is also needed, we just need to be clear as to what it might look like. 

  1. Just like appliances are certified for energy efficiency. Companies need to be certified and ranked by their ability to increase employment as a ratio to capital invested. Businesses that plan to use less capital and more employees cost effectively should be recognized and rewarded in the market place.

Obviously a sustained agitation by participating unions at the national and regional level is called for. The union government has to understand that the nation is deeply alarmed at the crony capitalist pandering through which the government has displayed an appalling disregard for people's need for meaningful employment.

One way or another we should definitely together make a strong economic argument case for a "Right to Work."  Without a strong economic argument it will be harder to succeed.

Managing Change means allowing restructuring of the workforce. We must acknowledge the fact that we live in a very different eco system than even three decades ago (pre internet). 

  1. The unions must make it harder for the Central government to break up and sell already profitable healthy companies, thereby preserving the jobs that would be lost to privatization.

  1. Unions must allow the government to sell companies that are unlikely to get healthy if they cannot address the underlying reasons for their dis-ease.

  1. Prioritize labour over capital: Unions must fund a new generation of labour intensive but commercially viable high tech businesses. 

The era of super-specialization: The government and the unions should study the issues with a view to reskilling those whose jobs are likely to disappear. The focus will probably have to include super-specialised training that can lead to jobs and income.

The long overdue overhaul of education: The long awaited New Education policy has been a damp squib. It has not even correctly understood the purpose of education. Experts now agree that education must shift away from knowledge acquisition towards personal development, social skills and acquiring jobs related training.

Education must be more job and entrepreneur oriented: Despite the drive to shorter job oriented courses there should still be a component for language, current events and arts or crafts  or we will end up with workers who are unable to see bigger picture social and cultural issues. 

Engineering change: With over 70 percent of our engineering graduates unemployed, we also need to rethink technical education and bring it in line with what businesses need. Issues of teacher quality and curriculum quality may be pertinent.

Monitored autonomy: the government and unions should recognize that companies these days need to be much more nimble and responsive to change. They therefore need to give the Managers of successful public sector companies the freedom to innovate and respond to market forces. This should include the right to lay people off under certain conditions (with unemployment insurance available of course).

Developing a model for workfare:

  • Would the Right to work act involve some kind of MNREGA type program with a Universal Basic income component if work is not available? 

  • Workfare should not impact availability of regular employment. One problem with MNREGA is that it probably reduces the availability of employment unless work areas are confined to government or railway land. Could cleaning up around our waterways be part of such programs?

  • Workfare for educated? Could there be a version of Universal Basic income for educated people? Paying people for doing something that is currently not being done in the public domain. Perhaps tutoring at risk children?

 Think national (and global) but buy local: The government (and political parties) must take steps to reignite local and agricultural marketplaces. For example at our airports, we can see  that multinationals have a stranglehold on the ecosytem there. You can buy a small bottle of water for Rs. 100 but there is nowhere  you can buy a fresh fruit plate or freshly opened coconut water. The tendency for airports to serve branded, stale highly processed over packaged food products is bad for health and reduces jobs. 

Listing of local labour intensive jobs: 

  1. Tailoring must make a comeback so that people can customize their own clothing while supporting local sewers.

  1. Many more jobs can be created through home delivery of services for specialized groups such as the elderly. Those can afford it would welcome hair cuts, pedicures, manicures, home care services. 

For households there could be more food delivery, ironing, precut fresh vegetables for cooking, fresh coconut scraped. Homes could enjoy a healthy "nariel pani" every day and so much more.

Restructuring sick care to well care. There has to be a shift in attitude which allows people to focus on preventative medicine. This means we need to buy less stuff and instead use more services. Do we really really need a car costing Rs 10 lakhs if there is minimal travel. Would we better off with using those funds for better living and renting a car and driver when we need one.

Wouldn't we be healthier if we went on walking, cycling or trekking vacations? In the process we would create more experiential tourism jobs.

Now that we buy less useless stuff, we may want to spend our extra money on a new generation of care workers such as;

  • Home health coaches (part time)

  • Yoga teachers (and motivators)

  • Massage therapists

  • Singing and music instrument tutors.

  • Specialized cooks, imagine being able to hire a specialty cook once a week when you are entertaining?

Overall we should be looking at ways to power up the domestic services market. Last but not least we should make it easier for householders to give good jobs to home workers and perhaps make it harder for them to spend money to create an atmosphere of what some might call "fake posh."

1 comment:

  1. Change the education system in primary and upper primary level. Give priority for language education till upper primary. We can have 5 languages. Mother tongue, English, Sanskrit,Hindi and an additional South Indian or North Indian language. This will generate more employment in Education services. National integration also will improve.
    Change school timing to 7 AM to 1 P M so that children will get time to do part-time jobs and first hand experience of job market.
    High school should have honors classes for academically better students.


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