There are millions of young men and women waiting for job opportunities. This chronic problem of unemployment is not confined to any particular class, segment or society. There is massive unemployment among educated, well-trained and skilled people, and it is also there among semi-skilled and unskilled labourers, small and marginal farmers and workers. Then there is under-employment. The jobs being created have miserably failed to keep pace with the ever increasing number of job-seekers. It is a problem which presents a great challenge to our leaders, thinkers, planners, economists, industrialists and educationists.
In the far flung areas, villages and towns, the problem is all the more acute, as there are thousands and thousands of workers and farm labourers who do not have their own piece of land to cultivate. Majority of our farmers too, have very small holdings. Consequently, they remain idle for many months of the year. This has resulted in a mass exodus from villages to the cities and large towns. It is because of this limitless unemployment that the majority of our population has been living below the poverty line. The problem of unemployment has also given rise to many other serious problems, like extremism and terrorism. We should not forget that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Many a young man takes recourse to lawlessness, violence, anti-social activities, terrorism and extremism because of frustration arising out of prolonged unemployment and lack of proper job opportunities.
A frustrated and unemployed man or woman can prove a very dangerous person. He or she will never allow others to live in peace. Many of our law and order problems are directly linked with this problem of unemployment among our young men and women. They are full of energy, drive, and initiative. If not properly oriented, these are bound to explode into harmful and anti-social activities. Therefore, it is the need of the hour that the youth is suitably employed and its energies, capabilities and skills are harnessed for fruitful and nation- building activities. If this problem is solved, many other problems would be solved automatically. For a democratic country and a welfare state like ours, unemployment is a big curse, which can be eliminated to a great extent by proper manpower planning and creation of job opportunities on a large scale. If the rise of our manpower cannot be reduced, it becomes imperative that the demand for it is sufficiently increased by proper short and long term planning, both in public and private sectors.
There are many reasons that are too obvious to be ignored, as far as this problem is concerned. The rapidly increasing population, defective education system, slow growth of industries, neglect of cottage industries, and backwardness of our agriculture, etc. are some of the major causes of the problem. Defective long and short term manpower planning is another factor helping this problem to have a new dimension. There are a few other factors, which have contributed in worsening the situation, but they are not as major as the ones mentioned above.
Our education system should be reviewed and changed according to our present needs. Like factories, our universities, colleges and schools are still producing a rich crop of graduates who are fit only for white collar jobs in the offices. These graduates are fit only for such jobs as those of clerks, assistants, officers and bureaucrats sitting at tables in the offices. These matriculates, graduates and post-graduates keep adding to the growing list of the unemployed. These educated but unemployed youths, numbering millions, are a source of great anxiety and concern. Our education should be work-oriented. It should be such that it enables a person to stand on his own feet instead of depending on others. It is really an irony that our highly educated and trained personnel, like engineers, doctors, and scientists, etc., run after government jobs. They are not willing to start their own workshops, laboratories, factories and businesses.
Our educated young men and women, instead of facing the challenges and creating suitable job opportunities through self-employment, are wasting themselves in the pursuit of routine and easy-to-perform government jobs. They depend too much on the government and lack the courage and inspiration to stand on their own feet. There should be greater emphasis on vocational education. There should be many more technical institutions and training centers. Indiscriminate and unplanned admissions in colleges and universities should also be checked. Higher education should be reserved only for those who really deserve it.
It is really shocking that our Five Year Plans have consistently increased the number of unemployed persons. It is because our planners have failed in taking a proper, long- term view of the problem. Due to defective planning and poor manpower management, there are jobs for which we do not have sufficient number of proper hands, and on the other hand, there are thousands and thousands of hands, for whom there are no suitable jobs.
This has given rise to brain-drain and flight of our talented people to other countries in search of greener pastures. Our manpower planning should be based on objective analysis, facts and figures and other relevant factors. Our wrong priorities, planning and policies have resulted in dangerous gaps and holes in our various employment schemes. Due of lack of proper manpower planning, graduates and post-graduates of various disciplines are forced to settle for jobs quite removed from their education, training and aptitude.
The rapid growth imp our population is another major cause of this problem. Every minute there is an addition of 40 or more people to our already unmanageable population. Consequently, the creation of job opportunities has not kept pace with the rapidly increasing population. Besides unemployment among educated young men and women, it is there among uneducated labour too. Every year there is an increase of over 4 million people in the labour sector. Rural unemployment is increasing rapidly, resulting in a great pressure on the land cultivation and cottage industries.
The ever declining trend in village industry and handicrafts has further worsened the situation. The indiscriminate expansion of education facilities at college and higher levels of education is a sheer waste of national resources. Our education should be totally restructured and made work oriented. We need more of technical education than liberal education. Education should teach a person to stand on his own feet, instead of depending on the government for a job.
Our industries too have lagged behind, thereby aggravating the situation. We have invested heavily in public sector industries, which have low employment potential, neglecting small and village industries. Indiscriminate automation and computerisation have also contributed to the worsening situation. Any expansion in industries should be closely linked with the immediate needs of the community. Without keeping this in mind any manpower planning can be effective and successful. The emphasis should be on proper planning and utilization of our vast manpower. It is imperative that we seek people’s solutions based on our ground realities instead of abstractions. There should be maximum utilization of our industrial capacity but it should be based only on these principles.
Recently, there was much talk to make ‘right to work’ one of the fundamental rights, but nothing concrete has emerged so far. Moreover, it does not seem to be practical in a country like India with its vast population and dwindling natural resources.
To alleviate this problem of unemployment and underemployment in villages, a progressive employment scheme called Jawaharlal Rodger Yolanda was introduced in 1989. Over 440 lakhs families living under the poverty line benefited from it. More such schemes are needed to create gainful employment opportunities for scheduled tribes, scheduled castes and other backward classes and communities in the rural areas of the country. Only then will our efforts towards development and industrialisation get the desired results.