India has the largest number of unemployed persons in the rural area in the world. Every new government announces some programme or the other in this respect. The schemes envisaged by successive governments are generally good. But they do not create confidence among the young. The number of unemployed increases by 10 per cent every year. It is of course partly because of additional man force coming to the employment market as the population increases at the rate of 2.1 per cent. But there is some flaw in the employment generating schemes too. The schemes are good but there is something wrong in their implementation.
Before the change of the government in 1991 there were three important schemes started during the tenure of former governments. As K.R. Venugopal, a senior bureaucrat attached to Prime Minister Office by the end of 1993, put it they were some of the best conceived programmes. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Integrated Rural Devlopment Programme (IRDP) and Jawahar Rozgar Yojna (JRY) were the much propagated programmes. But the performance of the programmes has been far from satisfactory.
Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) was considered very promising and 5: me success—real as well as statistical—was perceived in the IRDP. Still the programme did not come to the expectations of the people. That is why the first week of 1994 saw the constitution of a panel by Reserve Bank of india (RBI) “to look into the planning and implementation process” of the programme. It was seen that the scheme that started in early eighties could do little to alleviate poverty for 13 years as the quantum of assistance was adequate and there was no backup support at the field level.
According to Eshwar Anand “The average investment has failed to generate additional income to enable the families to cross the poverty line.” It was rather strange that while the Planning Commission considered Rs. 11,000 as the basis of poverty line the Union Ministry of Rural Development fixed up Rs. 8,500 per family to show an increase in the number of beneficiary families. The result was that at least 16 per cent families were ineligible for the IRDP support.
A queer phenomenon was that under IRDP, implementation being uniform, funds were spent on animal husbandry even in drought prone areas. The animals naturally instead of generating extra income would finally go to vie slaughter houses. It just shows that IRDP can be successful only among the “least poor people in the least poor areas.” That is why the programme as been successful in some parts of Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The need is to invest more on agriculture development, infrastructure, and road links and in lengthening the administration.
For the backward areas focus should be on wage labor schemes. The scheme can be made useful by migrating labor to the developed areas to build up agriculture infrastructure. Minor irrigation facilities, small bunds, road construction and land leveling can came under this scheme. Appointing specialist staff in rural bank is also necessary.
Many good laws are passed but they are not implemented by the executive. A new government again projects some more laws on the same issue. In the same way because of non-implementation of these schemes eluding Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) the government issued three more schemes to help the poor and the unemployed.
Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) was associated with Rev amped Public Distribution Scheme (RPDS) and Integrated Child I development Services (ICDS). 1752 RPDS blocks were identified in the country. The EAS provides wage employment for 100 days in these blocks. The centre provided 80 per cent of the cost of EAS and released 87.50 crore as first installment. The remaining 20 per cent was to be covered by the states. 1168 of these blocks have been covered by Integrated Child Development Programme (IRDP) too.
The money is released directly to the district rural development agencies and 60% of the EAS outlay is to be spent for water, solid conservation and minor irrigation. The scheme has to be implemented by voluntary organizations having good record. Panels would be set up at the block level to supervise the scheme. It would include elected representative and NGOs.
Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) envisages the generation of more than one million jobs. It would aid educated unemployed youth to set up seven lakh microenterprises in the small scale sector. IIT graduates and women would be preferred.
The beneficiaries would receive a loan up to Rs. one lakh if they contribute 5 per cent of the project cost. They would also have capital subsidy up to 15 per cent of the project cost. The maximum would be Rs. 7,500. If the experiment is successful it would provide a link between growing agricultural economy and small manufacturing, servicing and industrial enterprises in rural areas.
The most successful programme initiated by the government is Mahila Samriddhi Yojna (MSY). It was launched on October 2, 1993. The scheme is meant to create a sense of saving among rural women. A woman has to deposit her saving in a village post office. For every Rs. 3 deposited by her to the government would add Rs. one till the savings total Rs. 300. She can withdraw twice in a year. The scheme became so popular that within 3 months Rs. 3.19 crore was deposited in village post offices. The total number of accounts opened was 2.78 lakh. The scheme aims at ‘women’s empowerment’ for ‘greater control over household resources’. It would also improve their limited access to market sector of production and financial resources. If taken seriously without interference and delays from the bureaucracy the schemes promise a good start towards improving the lot of women and unemployed youth in the rural area.