Monday, November 30, 2020

Value work

The idea of differentiating between unemployment and worklessness is very important in these times of e-governance, info-technology, privatization, free trade regimes, FDIs, globalization and ever-shrinking scenario of government jobs. We can have a situation of work for all but government jobs for only a few and this, in the contemporary times, should not be taken as a handicap in the journey of achieving an all inclusive growth and progress. It is true that thousands of our unemployed youth are registered with the State Department of Employment. We also cannot overlook the fact that most of these people have registered themselves for seeking a government job. In fact the much publicized perception that there are no job opportunities available in the state is far from truth. There can be no disagreement to the fact that lakhs of unskilled, semiskilled and skilled workers from outside the state are working in Nagaland as beauticians/hair dressers, masons, carpenters, welders, plumbers, electricians, agricultural labourers and other construction activity. The average daily earnings of a mason, carpenter or a semi-skilled worker in Dimapur/Kohima and other towns are over Rs 600 per day where as an unskilled labourer earns not less than Rs 400 per day. From this, the average monthly earnings of a semi-skilled worker come to around Rs 15000 per month (approx), which unfortunately is going to others. The point is it might be next to impossible for the governments elsewhere to provide some work to all its relevant and potential citizens; however the government of this state, owing to certain peculiarities, can definitely enable all its citizens for a meaningful engagement and thus ensure a job for them to make an honourable living. One might sound as protectionist in outlook if he talks about the huge financial drainage this state undergoes season after season by way of engaging non-state manpower (skilled as well as unskilled) for carrying out virtually all the earning engagements. Agriculture, masonry, painting, carpentry, small-time way side retail businesses, salesmanship, barber, tailoring, cookery, workshops/ mechanics, etc are all the jobs that would be accomplished at the local hands and thus provide engagement to thousands and thousands of people. This total shift in our social psyche and switching over to the culture of getting all errands done at the hands of others is proving detrimental to the social and financial interests of the state. But the onus for that lies more on the citizens of this state than on the government. The sad part of the story is we have lost the sense of dignity of labour. We have lost the sense of contentment and sense of valuing small earnings. The offers of the private and the corporate sector to engage our youth on monthly pay packages of 5 to 6 thousand rupees is simply laughed away with a lot of suspicion and cynicism. We simply do not get liberated from the unfortunate mindset of perceiving government jobs as the only way of occupation, no matter, if we are even illiterate, semi illiterate, unskilled and otherwise. Well off business people, big land owners, nicely placed craftsmen, industrial unit holders, hoteliers, house owners and transporters would exert pressure and do anything that is needed to ensure that the cherished dream of government jobs for their siblings is realized. Government must have the will and work, on priority and before anything else, towards changing this mindset. It has to be an educative and awareness programme aimed at inculcating afresh a sense of dignity of labour and a sense of respect for self-help and self reliance. All the politicians – ruling as well as in the opposition – must put aside their respective political considerations and very courageously call spade a spade and tell the general public and other citizens on their face that the rulers simply shall never be in a position to provide government jobs to all the aspirants on the terms and conditions as decided by the masses. Simultaneously, the government should encourage, facilitate and regulate private players in establishing counseling cum placement apparatuses for exploring and ensuring suitable placements for the really deserving and the run-off human resource of the state. Luckily it has the models, in operation in other states, to emulate.