Introduction The country 's unemployment rate is growing. We have had growth, but it has been a growth that is not so healthy at all. The demand for many goods and services is declining. We need to fully understand what is going on. The most important areas of focus and concern are: a) Increasing the size of the middle-class by improving standards of middle-class b) Improving the quality of higher education c) Innovate in providing loans to small and medium enterprises d) Revive agriculture through viable strategies and e) Improve entrepreneurship by ten times.
Increasing the size of the middle class by improving standards of middle class This is very important. In the name of helping the industrialists, the Government of India is seeking to completely destroy the middle classes by multiplying the massive range of casual and contractual employment. This does not augur well for a society where only regular employment will give them the loans from banks to buy houses, cars, televisions, two-wheelers and so on. This is not happening because we have had very sluggish growth in the number of these middle-class guys in the regular jobs. The people who were previously employed in the IT sector were these guys. And the banks also employed many on regular rolls. Today, this is gone. The middle- classes are just not doing regular jobs in most places. The atrocious NEEM scheme introduced by the Government of India has only added to the confusion. The number of people on contract rolls, under the NEEM scheme, is so huge that the contribution of contract employees in generating demand for various products and services is now becoming zero. This is why cars are not selling. Fresh orders for cell phones are not selling. The demand is not there for new cars. People do not care and even second-hand fiat cars that will somehow help them to drive within cities. The new Central Government should make it mandatory for the employers to absorb the NEEM trainees after two years of training on regular rolls so that the demand for goods and services can improve.
Improving the quality of higher education In the several States of India, particularly the Hindi belt, the standards of higher education is very poor. The small percentage of students who study well, migrate to the other parts like New Delhi and study very well there. However, for the vast majority, the examinations are not conducted on time, the appalling standards of spoken and written English is a big problem and the syllabus is also out-dated.
We also have a systematic degradation of values in each of the campuses and the products are simply unemployable. A survey of MBAs undertaken some years ago pointed out that the percentage of students who could be readily employed is hardly ten percent of the total. We thus have a situation where the excess manpower becomes useless and is unsuitable for employment. Fortunately, in cities like Chennai Hyderabad and Bangalore, we do have some BPO organizations, where those with knowledge of only their mother tongue like Hindi, or Telugu or Tamil, are able to find entry-level jobs. They then enroll for courses in spoken English and somehow carry themselves forward. The hard knock of life in the metro cities does teach them many skills and they learn to survive. However, BPO jobs cannot be assured forever. The Central Government of India should announce a good scheme, where the BPO employees can re-skill themselves at low cost. This will enable them to upgrade their skills and get into the IT sector. The latter is now facing sluggish growth but is likely to move up in terms of demand in the next couple of years. India is still a growing market. The upwardly mobile. English-speaking population dominates the Indian Corporate scenario and occupy the key positions. To avoid this sorry state of affairs, the re-skilling of raw graduates should be done with a missionary zeal. Once this happens, the gap between the skilled and the unskilled will reduce and this will produce far better results. It should be noted that the BPO crowd does drive the economy to some extent. They have opened up markets for cheaper food, textiles, travel and what have you. For example, a huge number of shared taxi guys survive only on the basis of the patronage of these guys who earn okay salaries but cannot afford the cost of Ola cabs or autos.
Innovate in providing loans to small and medium enterprises This has to happen immediately. It should be noted that small and medium enterprises have a huge number of problems, including GST. It should the priority of the Government to immediately plug all the loopholes and also engage with the concerned entrepreneurs to open up new vistas of growth and development. Once this happens, the new wave of growth will be back again, leading to a massive number of employees being employed on regular rolls. Contrary to public perception, the jobs are rather regular and since they find it very difficult to get highly trained and qualified employees, these companies tend to keep them happy with regular jobs and salaries and perks. It is a fact that the number of new employees in the past two years has declined. This has to be set right immediately. Once this is done, there will be an all-round improvement.
Revive agriculture through viable strategies A very important Union Minister of the present Government of India, wants eighty-five percent of the people to work in factories and offices in the coming years. This is possibly why agriculture is sought to be destroyed, very systematically. This is done through so-called development in the form of huge roads, the dangerous factories employing technologies that are harmful to the environment and so on. Once this happens, it is very unlikely that the poor will even be able to maintain present standards of living. For example, the wages of construction labor should be revised to a minimum of Rs.25,000 per month, in big metros like Mumbai or Chennai or Bangalore. It is not even fifty percent now. The capitalists will simply gang up against the rural poor, who have already been uprooted from agriculture. They travel as much as 250 kilometers either way, in EMU trains in search of employment. They tend to somehow reach their residence late at night. This sort of inhuman exploitation is likely to continue unabated if the Vision of the great man is to be realized. This is absolutely stupid.
The only viable alternative is to revive agriculture and help it grow. The learned men should realize that agriculture is the backbone of the economy. Systematically destroying it will only lead to a situation where the food shortages will become so acute and then the food has to be imported at a huge cost. This will be disastrous as India can ill afford it. However, farmers should be encouraged to repay loans and they should not be given everything for free. This will lead to other problems. In fact, the present situation is only because of the Modi Government's attitude to industrialize at the cost of agriculture.
Improve entrepreneurship by ten times India's strength is in entrepreneurship of a very tall order. It is in the very organization of a number of State-sponsored training programs and appropriate motivation for any number of entrepreneurs to develop small enterprises. For instance, the increase in the number of food-related entrepreneurship ventures has increased manifold. The present trend only needs to be encouraged. We need entrepreneurs everywhere. Even if it is only service-related, bank loans should be given on the basis of intent and purpose. This will help the entrepreneurs grow by leaps and bounds and this will enable the economy to get back to some shape.
Conclusion The present Finance Minister of India, has to kickstart the economy and provide new jobs. The atrocious NEEM scheme should be modified. If she is able to take some basic steps, there will be a better environment for the economy to even record faster levels of economic growth and also the kind of inclusive growth that has not been seen thus far.