The than star campaigner of the Bharatiya Janata Party – Narendra Damodardas Modi for 2014 Lok Sabha General Election had made repeated assurances of creating employment in every state, Acha Din (Good days) was his catch words. Similarly, during the Tripura Assembly election, Modi addressed a huge crowd on February 15, 2018 in Shantir Bazar, Agartala accusing the then Left government in Tripura of neither ensuring the minimum wages nor implementing the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. He assured that a BJP government is the only substitute, but the state government notification on December 18, 2018 has partially restricted fresh appointments in the state, saying various departments must get prior concurrence from the finance department in case fresh posts are required or new jobs are to be created.
In a recent memo, state Chief Secretary L K Gupta said there was a need to curbg fresh recruitments and job creation as the wage bill constituted major expenditure. He said Tripura has the highest level of government employment in the country in proportion to population of the state, hence the expenditure on salaries (including establishment expenses), pensions and debt repayments constitutes about 60 per cent of expenditure, leaving very little for development activities. The level of employment in Tripura is double compared to states like Meghalaya.
Gupta justified this by saying that Tripura could have saved an additional Rs 3,000 crore per annum for development activities for the people of the State if we have a Meghalaya-like employment scenario; hence, creation of posts will strictly depend on availability of budgetary resources with the department concerned. Each department has a number of posts created in the past, which are vacant and no longer required. Hence, whenever a department submits a proposal for creation of a post, it should be accompanied by a proposal for surrender or abolition of posts with equivalent financial implication.
It may be mentioned that Tripura has a population of 36,73,917 and the strength of government employees is over 2.15 lakh. The Ruling BJP-led government, which took over after years of Left rule earlier this year, has recently announced the 7th pay Pay Commission benefits to government employees. Also, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who had presented the budget after taking over, has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for implementation of the pay commission recommendations.
In Meghalaya the educated youth who only look for government jobs while refusing to take up any other work have created an artificial unemployment. Above that the educational institutions here have failed to produce employable youths. It is time the state government stresses on employment generation, which will not only improve the economics of the state but also keep the youth occupied who will not drift towards armed struggle out of frustration.
There were various Self Help Group formed across the state; however the employment avenues are mostly restricted to self employment amongst the members. Same is the case of clustering of villages which is failing to provide mass employment. The cause is simple – the state government failed to help the artists and artisans to market their products outside the state even as the consumption within the state is limited.
Secondly, there is an introvert attitude among the people here, preventing the investors and consumers to reach the grass roots in the name of checking influx, at the same time, refusing to venture out to market the produces.
Be it state government or social organizations, all are simply imparting skills via workshops or seminars, no one stresses on how to produce the handicrafts which are in demand outside the state, also as per the demand and requirement of the buyers outside. It is time the training programmes stress on marketing and also helping the locals to establish links for marketing the products from here.
Better finishing and packaging is yet another aspect that needs attention such that it can create more demand both inside and outside the state. In most cases, the demand and taste of the consumers outside the state are not taken into consideration.
Various states and countries had at one point of time faced financial breakdown, but the spirit to ‘never give up’ and with proper execution and planning, all have sprang back. But in the case of Meghalaya, once Central Government funding stops flowing, the state government will not be able to even pay the salaries of its employees.
It is time the state government focuses on employment generation schemes and projects. Simply imparting training and skills without avenues for employment is futile. In order to tap the human resources, the educational institutions should be asked to revamp the syllabus; it is time to stress on vocational training right from the high school level where the training should focus on self-employment. As the North Eastern Hill University is reviewing the system of instruction in the classroom, the state government should suggest for the inclusion of skill development as a subject. The priority of all educational institutions should be to focus on producing employable youths, at the same time, infusing a work culture into the young minds.
The state government should take a clue from the American government whose first priority is creating jobs, knowing well that with growth of population the demand for jobs too increases. The Meghalaya government for the last 46 years has failed terribly when it comes to creation of jobs and employment.
It is time the state government prepares a blueprint on how to generate job opportunities, and how to attract foreign investment. But prior to that, the youth organizations here need to be sensitized on job and job opportunities. The phobia of influx leading to shelving of any foreign investment, or taking advice of experts from other states is only pushing the state backward.
The District Industries Development also needs to conduct research on the availability of raw materials in the state, and also the market demands and not to just have a few listed industries for the youth to choose from. One needs to understand the present day requirements and not simply list the type of industries which are seeing high demands outside the state.
The Youth organizations, Chamber of Commerce, Sports and Youth Affairs department, Industry and Labour department, even the financial institutions should be the stakeholders to jointly draft the employment policy which can open up employment opportunities.
Tripura meanwhile should also focus on creating more self-employment schemes as it restricts fresh appointments, job creation in government departments, otherwise the pressure of unemployment will push the state backwards.