108 districts out of 112 show disappointing negative growth between July 2018 and Feb 2019; youth from marginalised districts ignored
(This article was first published on April 12, 2019. It was updated on April 17, 2019 to replace PMKVY in the fourth paragraph with Aspirational Districts Programme)
Analysis of existing government data shows that 96 per cent of India's ‘aspirational districts’, that need immediate development attention, registered a negative growth in financial inclusion and skill development between July 2018 and February 2019.
Out of the 112 districts which are monitored, 108 registered disappointing negative growth on “skill building and financial inclusion” during this period.
Skill building for employment with focus on vulnerable/marginalised youth is monitored under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY). Hence, this signals failure of the Centre’s flagship skill development and employment programmes like — PMKVY and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Yojana, according to the upcoming State of India’s Environment 2019, set to be launched on June 6.
Under Aspirational Districts Programme, 112 under-developed districts across the country compete with each other in order to achieve targets in five crucial sectors — health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure — which have direct bearing on the quality of life and economic productivity of citizens.
Poor show on skill building
A glance at the recent overall performance of the districts shows that almost all districts have been performing well, but a closer look based on the comparative performance between July 2018 and February 2019 reveals a worrying reality.
Only four districts have improved marginally, among whom Mewat in Haryana registered a marginal improvement over the last 10 months. Its score has marginally improved from 21.9 to 31.7 during this period.
Out of 108 districts that registered negative growth, Mahasamund and Bastar in Chhattigarh are the worst performers. While the score of Mahasamund decreased from 73.5 to 40.8, the score of Bastar decreased from 65.3 to 35.6 to during the same period.
A dip in the score of both these districts shows that “youth” had not been a priority in these districts. In fact, the BJP government in Chhattisgarh, led by Raman Singh, performed below average on an important parameter like employment in rural areas. This helped the Congress make a massive comeback in the state.
Lack of skills
In 2018, the number of people unemployed in India increased by nearly 11 million — India’s worst showing in the last 27 months. An important cause for high unemployment rates is the lack of skills required for jobs that are available.
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has acknowledged that less than five per cent of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training.
Just 4.69 per cent of India’s total workforce is formally skilled, as against 52 per cent in the United States of America, 68 per cent in United Kingdom, 75 per cent in Germany, 80 per cent in Japan and 96 per cent in South Korea.
Unemployed and unskilled youth could be an important deciding factor in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections; and the manifestoes of both the BJP and the Congress promise jobs and skills for the youth.
While Congress has promised to create lakhs of 'low-skilled' jobs to absorb young men and women who have completed only a few years in school; the BJP has promised a ‘National Policy for Reskilling and Upskilling’ to evolve a flexible and industry-responsive workforce which is capable of accessing new opportunities.
By 2020, the median age of India’s population is estimated to be 28, and this is a massive opportunity as well as challenge for the country. Let us hope that the promises are fulfilled to build a youthful skilled workforce that ensures socio-economic growth of the nation.
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