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Day 12 – Q 1. Improving the job landscape in the rural sector is imperative to provide the much-needed fillip to the economy. Comment. 

  • IASbaba
  • June 23, 2020
  • 0
GS 3, Indian Economy, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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1. Improving the job landscape in the rural sector is imperative to provide the much-needed fillip to the economy. Comment. 

ग्रामीण क्षेत्र में नौकरी के परिदृश्य को बेहतर बनाना अर्थव्यवस्था के लिए बहुत जरूरी है। टिप्पणी करें।

Demand of the question:

It expects students to write about the criticality of improving job landscape in rural sector to give much needed fillip to the economy.

Introduction:

India is predominantly a rural country. As per the 2011 Census, 68.8 per cent of country’s population and 72.4 per cent of workforce resided in rural areas. Rural economy constitutes 46 per cent of national income. Despite the rise of urbanization more than half of India’s population is projected to be rural by 2050. Thus growth and development of rural economy and population is a key to overall growth and inclusive development of the country in post COVID-19 India.

Body:

Rural sector as driver of Economic fillip:

  • If there is no universal access to a Covid-19 vaccine for another 18-24 months, then businesses in safer sectors and locations are likely to do well, here rural sector might act as net gainer. 
  • In rural India, where it is naturally easier to have physical distancing and outdoor work. This may shift the focus from urban markets to rural markets, for both demand and production.
  • As per NITI Aayog report, more than half of Indian industrial production comes from the rural areas. Rural construction also accounts for nearly half of the total building activity in the country. The value of rural services is about a quarter of the total services output.
  • Surplus labour: Livestock, fisheries, dairy, vegetables, fruit and food processing are more labour-intensive and high value-yielding. 
  • Infrastructure investment: Local initiative for building community infrastructure, like water harvesting, canal irrigation network, hubs for community market centers etc. may generate employment opportunities. 

As migrants returned to source states, agriculture may face overcrowding and cannot sustain surge of labourers. It is possible that eventually reverse migration will took place and urban centres will return to economic growth with reduced supply chain constraints. Rural employment has shrunk after 2005 while the urban areas have not been able to absorb the millions who are leaving the farm. Rural India is incapable of absorbing the estimated 23 million interstate and intrastate migrant labours who might return home from urban areas due to the COVID-19 lockdown. However to reduce the plight of migrant exodus witnessed during forced lockdown indicates necessity to address root cause of such crisis which lies in the developmental deficit.

Need to improve job landscape in rural sector of India:

  • Agriculture has accounted for less than half of total rural output since the turn of the century. On the other hand, National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data shows that more than one-fifth of rural households with self-employment in agriculture have income less than the poverty line.
  • Agriculture labour productivity in terms of gross value added (GVA) in India is less than a third of that in China and 1% of that in the US.  Rural sector is net importer vis-e-vis urban areas which indicate outward flow of money, which highlights critical need of new jobs.
  • About MGNREGA: Need to increase the number of days per household from 100 to 200 days for this year. Another approach would be to let families work as much as they wanted to – even if the number of days exceeded 100 – as long as the state average of labour days per household did not cross 100. 
  • Food processing sector: After many decades of neglect in research and development, lack of market access, on- off policies for exports, and market distortions, the present adversity may be a timely opportunity for this sector.
  • Entrepreneurship: Local production of items of local requirement, the local weavers, artisans and craftsmen may establish micro enterprises and form local community marketing cooperatives. 
  • Agri-tech start ups will be crucial for developing innovative digital solutions to maximise productivity, improve market linkages, increase supply chain efficiency and provide greater access to inputs for agri-businesses. 
  • E-commerce platform for local products: On the lines of Amazon India initiative for tribal products of Telangana, rural crafts can be availed on major e-commerce sites with authentic branding with the help of state governments.    

These measures or innovations need support of a suitable policy framework and reforms in pricing policy, tax, market access, credit and rural infrastructure, like warehouses and cold storage. The next two years or so of how we learn to live with corona virus can redesign the economy towards safer and more sustainable production and consumption, with agriculture and the rural economy as its strength, rather than its weakness.

Conclusion:

In this economic pandemic, the lifeline of Indian economy lies in the transformation of the rural sector into a matrix of local economies, striking a balance between their diversified local production for local needs and surplus trading.

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