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Life of Labour: Faulty Budget for Farmers; India's Very Real Unemployment Crisis


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Agricultural Crisis

144% more funds for agriculture, but not enough to quell farm unrest

Despite the agriculture budget being increased from Rs 57,600 crore to Rs 1,40,764 crore, IndiaSpend reported how it isn’t the question of how much money is spent as much as where the money is spent. The report found that

“the amount provisioned for various agricultural schemes, such as the critical irrigation mission, is inadequate. The new income security scheme is short-sighted and inadequate, providing eligible farmers just Rs 500 per month or Rs 3.5 per person per day (considering a household size of five) – not enough to buy a cup of tea.”
Farmers various media outlets spoke to have either described the government’s flagship income support scheme as “a good start” at best or “useless” at worst. These moves come after hundreds of thousands of farmers marched to Delhi in a landmark event. The fact that the government isn’t able to respond appropriately even after such a clear demand by farmers has been made shows that they are clearly incapable of adequately handling the agricultural crisis.



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Teachers are chronically underfunded, both in training and salary

With India’s allocated budget for school education falling every year, and the funding for teacher training down by 87% in the last six years, it’s no wonder that the country’s teachers are angry. Most recently, on the February 10, contract teachers clashed with police in Patiala, Punjab, while agitating “against the various arm-twisting tactics used by the state government to force the teachers to join at a monthly salary of Rs 15,300”.



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Santosh Mehrotra, a professor of Economics at the Centre for Labour in Jawaharlal Nehru University, writes that the employment statistics are even worse than previously understood. Recently leaked NSSO data corroborated the idea that unemployment is still rising but the Chief Economic Adviser has tried to shift focus to “meaningful employment”. This attempt at changing the goalposts ignores another point.

As Mehrotra writes,

“What the recently leaked data also reveals is that as open unemployment rates increase, more and more people got disheartened, and fall out of the labour force. In other words, they stopped looking for work, even though they were in the working age”.
The data shows the labour force participation rate falling steeply over the last ten years. The unemployment rate among the education is also rising. Like the agricultural crisis, this too seems like a challenge that the current government simply does not know how to solve.

Informal jobs are the new norm in India’s job market

While the government is vociferously fighting the jobs data, the real crisis of Indian economy is not the crisis of data, nor the crisis of unemployment but the crisis in employment.

Over 92% of the jobs remain in the informal sector. It means that almost all of India’s workforce is employed in occupations that are low paying, with appalling work conditions, and bereft of or hidden from labour regulations. NSSO, as well as ILO data, corroborate this feature. India’s labour market is as bad as those in Sub-Saharan Africa, even as the country prides itself over its economic size.

In spite of government support to private enterprises to formalise and dilution of labour regulation the bulk of the jobs being created remain in the informal economy. The article argues that the state cannot remain in denial and it requires a multi-pronged approach including strengthening collective bargaining among informal workers to improve the quality of these jobs.

Privatising the farm sector is the only solution. Farmers should be able to lease their land to private players and collect monthly rentals. Private players can then use mechanised farming and export them.

I mean, why should farmers alone be forced to be entrepreneurs by tilling thier land and produce for their living ??

Govt and bureaucracy has outlived its purpose, and nothing good will ever come from tying the farm sector to govt doles !!
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