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Employment Assurance Scheme Under Organised Framework

Unemployment Issues are looming large to threatening proportions as more educated unskilled youth are manufactured in the Education factory every year starting from salary cuts and job losses in the country. On top of it, there is no single centralized database to host the correct unemployment statistics to evaluate or measure the impact of any welfare schemes floated by both State and Central Governments. This paper evaluates the scope for enlargement of the employment assurance scheme and fits its suitability under an organized framework to expand the scope to achieve its principle objective in the eradication of Poverty and Unemployment and ensure a secure and decent standard of life for every single citizen in our country.

Employment of every citizen for his daily livelihood and become self-sufficient on all respects play an important role in the development of our Economy. Reduction of Imports and Increase in exports optimizing our human resources towards Production of essential commodities involves generation of employment opportunities every single citizen in our Country. Agriculture sector not only play a crucial role in providing large employment opportunities but also help in the process of economic development of rural and backward areas of the country thereby reducing the regional imbalance, assuring more equitable distribution of national income and wealth. It amply contributes enormously to the socio economic development of the country.

Ironically there is no published or official data published in the public domain that could measure or spell out the latest secondary data related to unemployment in our country.

PROVISION UNDER INDIAN CONSTITUTION ON EMPLOYMENT

Apart from Article.16- Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment (Right to Equality), Article.24 - Prohibition of employment of children in factories (Right Against Exploitation) and Article.39 – Health and Strength of workers, there is no explicit provision under our Constitution where the “Right to Employment” is guaranteed, the onus of responsibility is put as a Duty on the part of State to provide rightful employment to citizens. Many attempts by various governments in power have floated progressive schemes to generate employment and to raise the standard of living. But poverty and grief struck due to migration of workforce from one state to another seeking unorganized labour through various schemes like NREGA, it has not wholly delivered to achieve the objective to eradicate poverty and unemployment especially in the rural areas. However, Article 43 envisages working community to lead a decent standard of life by means of assured wages for work.

Article 43 states as under:

Living wage, etc., for workers.—The State shall endeavor to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organization or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavor to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.

However, there are still miles to go to achieve the objective to achieve the status of “Zero Unemployment” in our country. This paves way for rise in poverty and the unemployed finds illegal methods to earn money. To get rid of the stress of unemployment they resort to consumption of drugs, alcohols and anti-social activities contributing to overall increase in criminal incidents in the society.

EMPLOYMENT ASSURANCE SCHEME (EAS)

Employment Assurance Scheme was launched on 2nd October, 1993 for implementation in 1778 identified backward blocks of different States. The block selected were in the drought prone areas, desert areas, tribal areas and hilly areas. Later, the scheme was extended to the remaining blocks of the country in phased manner. At present, the scheme is being implement in all the rural blocks of the country. The programme has been restructured from 1.4.99 and was launched to provide gainful employment during the lean agricultural season in manual work to all able bodied adults in rural areas who are in need and desirous of work, but cannot find it. The work may be either on farm or on other allied operations or on the normal plan/non-plan works during such a period. The secondary objective is the creation of community, social and economic assets for sustained employment and development.

EXPANSION OF THIS UNIQUE EMPLOYMENT SCHEME FOR THE DEPRIVED

A Study of this Scheme revealed as under:

SCHEME FEATURES OF EAS

SCOPE FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Scheme was primarily aimed to generate employment opportunities for the Rural population.

The Scheme should be made applicable to all Centres including Semi-urban, Urban and Metropolitan Centres under an organised employment framework.

The programme is implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme on cost sharing basis between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 75:25. In the case of Union Territories, the Centre provides entire funds under the Scheme.

Funds sharing should be 100% either by the Centre or the State. It can be assured that the earmarked funds should be directly deductible from the GST payable to State and Centre. There should not be claims raised on account of management of the Scheme so that the targeted beneficiaries are assured of wages.

It is open to all adult rural poor who are in need of wage employment.

Scheme should be open to all unemployed adults both skilled/unskilled and educated/uneducated who have to be placed under an organised employment.

A maximum of two adults per family (the generally expected number of adults in a family) would be provided wage employment, when there is demand during lean agricultural season, subject to availability of funds.

All unemployed adults in the family (the generally expected number of adults in a family) would be provided wage employment after identifying all employment avenues in advance before implementation of the scheme sufficiently earmarking funds from the Taxes collected.

The funds to the States will be allocated on the basis of proportion of rural population in a State to the total rural poor in the country or such other criteria as decided by the Central Government from time to time.

The funds to the States will be earmarked only on the basis of proportion of eligible unemployed members in a State and all such other criteria should be managed by a transparent Unemployment Database (UIDAI) maintained and validated by bonafide Identity and Address credentials of the beneficiaries by Technology from time to time.

EAS will be the single wage employment programme to be implemented at the district/block levels throughout the country

EAS will be the single wage employment programme to be implemented at all the District/Block levels throughout the country run as monthly salary basis.

The Gram Panchayat will maintain a live employment register containing the details of the workers and numbers of days for which wage-employment is provided under the Scheme.

Gram Panchayat will maintain a live employment register containing the bonafide Address and Identity details of the workers and numbers of days for which wage-employment is provided under the Scheme. This should be managed by a technology framework without any manual intervention and updated on daily basis and data transparently published in public domain.

70% of the funds flowing to the districts would be allocated to the blocks and 30% reserved at the district level to be utilized in the areas of distress.

There should no specific allocation criteria should be based on factors like Distress due to natural calamities, poverty, potential fertile areas for development in agricultural production and infrastructure development contributing directly towards GDP.

The wage-material ratio of 60:40 would be strictly implemented.

The wage-material ratio of  70:30 should be strictly implemented and reviewed periodically.

Payment of wages under the programme would be the Minimum Wage rates fixed by the State authorities.

Payment of wages under the programme would be the Minimum Wage rates fixed by the State authorities strictly under the existing labour laws framework.

The selection of works would be decided by Zilla Parishads after consultations with elected representative of the areas.

Works should be selected by ZPs in consultations with Gram Panchayat members of the areas and the Work Plan should be published in advance with Fund Estimates.

In the absence of Elected Bodies, a committee comprising of local MPs and MLAs and other elected representatives would be constituted for selection of works.

In the absence of Elected Bodies, a Committee comprising of Elected and local political party representatives and would be constituted for selection of works and must be approved by an Independent Constitutional authority at State and Centre.

The expenditure will be in the ratio of 60:40 for wage/non-wage component.

The expenditure will be in the ratio of 50:50 for wage/ Non-wage component.

The Employment Assurance Scheme will operate at district/block levels throughout the country and priority given to the areas suffering from endemic labour exodus.

Employment Assurance Scheme shall operate at every District/Block levels in the country and priority given to the areas suffering from endemic labour exodus determined by a well Strategized Technology driven outputs and Business Intelligence Analytics.

Persons seeking wage employment under EAS would be engaged in the works included in the annual action plan prepared for this purpose by the ZP.

Persons seeking wage employment under EAS would be engaged in the works should be validated in terms of their Identity, Address and Income Criteria and listed in the Annual Action Work plan prepared by the ZP.

The provisions of employment under this scheme should result in the creation of durable and productive assets.

The provisions of employment under this scheme should result in the creation of durable and productive assets and services to derive self-sufficiency status.

NEED FOR AN ORGANIZED EMPLOYMENT FRAMEWORK

The main source of employment especially for skilled and unskilled workers is managed by Non-Government entities in critical sectors like Transportation, Delivery of commodities, Construction activities, BPO Sectors, contract related activities under Infrastructure projects, etc. All these sectors generate employment opportunities which are governed and managed under an unorganised framework where the labour force include both education and semi-literate youth who are either unemployed or underemployed.  Hence, it is therefore necessary to institute an independent National Employment Commission and develop a database to host the details of present unemployed force in the country. Two broad segments like Skilled and Unskilled should be defined under a specific statute where categorisation could be facilitated by technology validated in terms of mandatory credentials like PIN Code and other approved Identity and Residential documentary proofs. Data can be segregated into State, District, and village /Block-wise, Age, Skill, Education, Technical and Professional skill-sets, etc. and unique ID could be generated once the data is updated engaged self or NGOs, District Collectorates, etc.

AVENUES FOR EMPLOYMENT IN THE NEXT DECADE

Post pandemic when COVID19 is conquered the following new avenues could be envisaged for employment generation that could directly or indirectly contribute to growth in GDP rates. Some of them are briefed as under:

  1. Agriculture Sector – Self-sufficiency is production of essential food commodities on large scale.
  2. Health Care and Advancement in Traditional Medicines and related direct allied activities.
  3. Food and Health Hygiene including storage, preservation and transportation of essential commodities.
  4. Robot Sciences taking lead to engage in every type of automated services.
  5. Deployment of Artificial Intelligence in Industrial management.
  6. Virtual Management technologies for key sectors like Education, Entertainment, etc.

NEED FOR ORGANISED EMPLOYMENT FRAMEWORK

  1. Government will be able to scientifically evaluate and assess the quantum of unemployment from the grass root level even up to Metropolitan centers.
  2. Deployment of State and Centre sponsored employment scheme could be effortlessly implemented through bonafide manpower resources.
  3. Wages and salaries including Incentives, grants and subsidies could reach the correct beneficiaries without any irregularities.
  4. Quality of Manpower availability in terms of Skillsets, age, experience, etc can facilitate Skill Development and Training of Human Resources.
  5. Government can deploy the manpower locally to all contractors to engage them under regulated terms and conditions of employment to ensure utmost transparency in working conditions, wage structures, social benefits, Insurance and Job Security, Safety in working environments, etc.
  6. State can exercise upperhand and supremacy to check and control of child labor, exploitation of workers by contractors, migration of workers from one State to another, etc.
  7. Assured employment for all workforce through Government Schemes and dependency on Government to supply workers by every Contractor entrusted with work paid out of public exchequer.
  8. Employment is always government under Regulated Pay Structure without any parity in terms of Experience and Expertise for any task. Even unskilled workers brought under this framework whether it is Security Job or Transport Operators or helpers, etc.
  9. Employers are mandated to make provisions for Provident fund, overtime, bonus, gratuity, leave salaries, etc. which is otherwise evaded and taken as individual profits.
  10. Above all, it would become a critical tool for Governance in the Planning and Allocation of Budgetary Resources for any sector at both macro and micro level perspectives.

It's time for the Government to engage all its resources at command and institute organised employment sector supported by a proper legal framework and ensure that our huge human resources gain a rightful and decent livelihood and contribute to the growth of our nation.

 

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Published in Constitutional Law
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