Adieu, Adieu! We are in dire straits

Capstone

The people of Vijayapura Taluk no longer live there. Most of them are forced to migrate in search of greener pastures to cities in Maharashtra and Goa.

Fatima makes a list of names of the women of the village who can help her in cooking a meal for the 12 kids at Tenihalli Block B Anganwadi. She sits on a rickety stool, sweat dripping from her forehead, she recalls her first day of work at this place in 1999 when she could barely bring herself to ask for a favour from the women in the other Block.
Fatima is concerned about the cook’s absence as the lunch is the only proper meal the kids get to eat in the course of their day. She points at a scruffy little boy(heeru) sitting under the banyan tree with his grandparents and proceeds to tell me how his parents travel to a whole other city for their jobs and says: “If you were to look at the whole village, you would only find old people like me or helpless kids like him.”
She says: “This is the only time these kids get to eat properly, in search for proper jobs their parents shift and proper care of these children is upon us”.

Handled by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, an Anganwadi worker has to set certain guidelines where they take care of the basic health care system along with preschool activities. Anganwadi is an institute set up by the government in small villages where the basic healthcare knowledge lacks among people and also provides kids with the midday meal.

Fatima’s life has been much like the kids she helps raise today. Her husband left her 30 years ago in search of a job to Ratnagiri. Due Lack of opportunities especially in Indi taluk and nearby villages, people migrate to neighboring states to Karnataka. Fatima’s husband started working in a factory and settled there since 1993, whenever he used to visit her, the blush on Fatima’s face would be like of a teenage girl. She wants to stop him and celebrate the upcoming festival of Eid every time he visits, but she cannot as his job doesn’t allow him to stay for more than a day or two.

The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana(PMKVY)was launched in 2015 to generate jobs by training youth in different fields and providing the minimum wage, but to no avail. It has not helped Heeru’s parents. Skill India or PMKVY was set to train 2.4 million people, including 1.5 million fresh graduates. However, according to Business Standard the data from NSDC shows, 6000,000  youth was skilled under the scheme but only 12 percent could acquire a job.

After 2014, the importance given to employment welfare programmes in rural India has increased by the implementation of various schemes, Such employment schemes also included, Make in India and huge support to self-help groups or microenterprise.

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According to weforum.org, nine million people migrated from the rural to urban parts of India in search of jobs between 2011-16. Migration has been an undeniable truth since ages, mankind has migrated in search of better opportunities, lifestyle, livelihood and sometimes, unfortunately, due to natural calamities. In rural areas like Indi Taluk and many such others, it is the lack of opportunities and poor implementation of government policies that necessitates such a drastic shift across state lines.

This man-made/government-made calamity hits the lower classes of the population, consisting mainly of small farmers, leaving them no choice but to search for jobs outside their hometown post-monsoon. Fatima belongs to a lower middle-class family, and so a lot of people in rural India who tend to shift for cheap labor in cities.

Dr. Srinivas Ravindra, executive director at the Centre for Sustainable Development in Banglore explains how bad agriculture has led to the migration. He says, “Considering the population of small farmers in the rural area, they hold small lands, and after their product is taken into the market post monsoon, they don’t have adequate jobs to sustain themselves and their families for the rest of the year. They need to earn, and if you look at the laborers in the city, they are small migrant farmers.”

Interstate migration has brought it more harm than good. Pointing to an old house across the street, Fatima says “This is what I am left with after my retirement.”  Starting with the salary of Rs 800 in 1999, Fatima started building her own life after her husband left and started a new family in Ratnagiri, Fatima has been struggling since. But even after being a government employee she is not provided with regular month-end salary.

Fatima speaks about her friend Bibi Aisha who shares the same fate. Aisha works in a govt-aided school didn’t receive her salary for three months. “I am a divorcee and I travel every day to Tamba village from Indi to teach. My parents initially were hesitant to send me but I wanted an independent life after my divorce. But my confidence and patience are tested at every end of the month when the government bank doesn’t provide me with a salary. It’s been more than three months which makes me depend on my parents all over again.” The problem of pending salaries by the government to Anganwadi workers has resulted in consequences which affect their families in villages.

  • Students from ITI institute in Tamba, Vijyapura district, Karnataka.

Moh Yusuf Patel, the headteacher at Urdu boys school in Indi, states: “Most parents of the students shifted in search of jobs to other towns or states, leaving their children with grandparents or other relatives. Due to lack of proper care of children by their relatives, they indulge in earning at a very early stage, and once they start earning, focus from studies is completely lost.”

The Present Government before coming to power in 2014, promised to generate one crore jobs every year.  But the leaked NSSO data states the highest unemployment in 45 years recorded in December 2018, reaching the unemployment shot up to seven percent.

In an article by The Wire, ‘The unemployment problem is affecting a large number of young people and a growing number of those have attended school. According to the recently released Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, 97% of children in the age group of 6-14 years are now enrolled in school. Many of those who attended school have gone on to obtain college degrees.’
As the number of people is increasing who are willing to spend on education in order to get a better livelihood, India’s policymakers are miserably failing to provide them with jobs according to data mentioned.

Fatima had to relive the painful separation from her husband when her son migrated to Gulbarga and settled there. Sajid, graduated from a diploma college in Vijyapura, with a degree in Mechanical engineering and now works as a taxi driver supplementing his income by transporting goods between villages. Approximately 55 million people in the labor market with at least a graduate degree, a figure by The Wire shows millions of people either unemployed or underemployed.

BH Jatagar , the head of Doctor RSK Industrial Training Institute which provides diploma in mechanical fields says, “There are more than hundred ITI institutes across Indi taluk and as many as 80-100 students graduate every year, but due to zero placements, graduates tend to migrate for better jobs to cities like Bengaluru and Mysuru.”

Even with the advent of private jobs in India, there are a large number of people who still prefer government jobs. “I am a B.ED and MA graduate, but in Indi, there is no hiring for government jobs,  I have been to Bengaluru for many competitive exams but didn’t clear even after securing more 65% because I belong to the general category”, says Vijay Biradar, resident of Heribenur village near Indi Taluk.

“There are no schools or college where I could apply, and I cannot work in MNREGA  scheme because it was for unskilled labor. And I cannot shift to another city for a job because I don’t want to leave my parents”, he added. With the assurance of job security for a lifetime, people in India try to seek jobs. People, especially in rural parts are more inclined towards government jobs than the urban population. Vijyapaura’s Zhila Parishad district MIS coordinator Shilpa says, “There are more people and fewer government vacancies, for one peon post in Zhila Parishad, 1000 applicants apply.”

While people like Vijay Biradar are still struggling to get a job, around 5 vacancies in the court and 3 vacancies in the taluk panchayat are still to be filled. Kalawati Kulkarni, first divisional assistant in court mentions, “For two years the Vijyapura courts have been ignoring our request to fill the position in Indi. Due to less workforce, the burden on existing people is extreme.”
I.H. Lingadalli, Indi Panchayat Manager says, “Indi is a small panchayat which has 10  posts, out of which three are vacant. Due to vacancy people at other posts are compelled to take those jobs. Bill collector’s post is vacant and officers at higher post are doing the job.”

The data by the Centre for Monitoring shows that India lost 11 million jobs in 2018. And in another report by Labor bureau states that 48.4 percent of households had only one person employed and 77 percent of households were reported to have no regular salaried person. India’s rate of unemployment has seen a persistent upward trend since the 2013-2014. Modi government has put major emphasis on self-employment and self-help groups. The Present Government, says if a person is selling pakodas and earning Rs. 200, he is considered employed.

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana promises to provide Rs. 10 Lakh loan for small enterprises. According to an article in Business Today, 53 percent bad loans worth Rs. 14,930.98 crore was initiated in the fiscal year 2018-19.

According to a report in the magazine Caravan, ‘ data from public-sector banks shows that loans were given under PMMS since 2015—over three crore loans, worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore, were disbursed in 2018 alone—have added to the Non Performing Assets or NPA crisis. In response to a query in the Lok Sabha, Shiv Pratap Shukla, the minister of state for finance, said PMMS loans that have turned into NPAs have doubled in the last two years to Rs 7,200 crore in 2018. Ground reports from rural areas of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh reveal that PMMS credit-driven businesses are unsustainable because the average amount of loans disbursed is Rs 30,000.’

The data provided by the following articles and labor bureau shows that the employment schemes have failed to provide what it promised and has led to a rise in unemployment. Distress among migrants and underemployed or even people who start their own companies is not hidden from the people.

Fatima’s husband and son who used to visit her once in a month, it turned into once in a year after her husband settled with his new family in Ratnagiri, and her son started a new job.

Families of the migrants who are still in the villages suffer the most. Moh. Yusuf Patel points at Abdul who sells fruits at the bus station. “He was enrolled in my school but since his parents migrated he indulged himself in working too, and lost all interest in studies.”

There are number of farmers in villages around Indi who migrate for few months into cities for employment during pre and post-monsoon season.

Ravi Harijan, who worked in a factory in Hyderabad for ten years, returned to Srikanahalli a few months ago to start farming again. He says, “Even after working for ten years, there was no job security and I was harassed by other employees.”Being a schedule caste, Ravi faced caste discrimination and couldn’t make enough money to buy ration for both the houses. I decided to come back because I cannot run two houses simultaneously.”, he added.

Unlike Ravi, Fatima’s son still lives in Gulbarga and refuses to send her money to support herself. Last time, when Fatima received her salary, she spent it on the Anganwadi electricity bill. The bill was due for more than two months and the Anganwadi authorities refused to pay the bill.

Examining the problems of unemployment in the country, it is difficult to provide one solution or policy to reduce it. But if one were to consider the main occupation of people in Indi i.e. farming, the solution presents itself. By getting the youth who have just graduated from colleges in the neighboring villages involved in the farming process, the unemployment problem could be addressed while also aiding in better functioning of the farming business.  

Krishi Vigyan Kendra(KVK), after two years of setting up their institute and examining the problems faced by farmers in Indi taluk and nearby villages, started training them to get access to their right to profit in farming. It also includes youth who are not exposed to opportunities which they can get via good and technical farming.

“We have eleven farmers working with us who are trained and educated so that they know how to effectively run the farming business and make it more profitable. KVK believes educated youth can bring a lot of change in the farming business and help make a difference in debt,” said MS Heena, Horticulture scientist at KVK

The reason why farmers are not exposed to much profit is due to the presence of middlemen in the market who eat up all the farmer’s profit. Siddrah Kembar, a small farmer in Kenginal village near Indi taluk who only expects a profit of Rs. 20,000 after investing Rs. 60,000 in his field.

Whereas Anil Mohare, who left his job in a big private firm to start farming is expecting the revenue of Rs. 20 lakhs by cultivating the same crops as Siddrah. The reason behind the difference is Siddarah is looted in the market by middlemen and Anil directly deals with exporters in Vijyapur, where he is provided with higher profit. Anil said, “If I deal with middlemen for sale of my farm produce, they will manipulate the prices and I will also be looted.”

The abolition of middlemen by Government was addressed and the Electronic National Agriculture Market was launched, but it fails to be implemented in small parts of India. Lack of awareness among farmers of E-NAM is accelerating its failure since its launch in 2016.

If the government had constructed food-processing outside a horticulture-heavy taluk like Indi, not only would it have benefitted the farmers in reducing the transportation cost but also provided the people of Indi extra job opportunities. Processing industries infrastructure could create a number of jobs right from the starting of its infrastructure to the appointment of people at every level. Had the government properly invested in eradicating the root cause of unemployment, Fatima would have had a family today.

 

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