Is Urban MNREGS the only way forward to curb urban unemployment or a mere 2024 election agenda?

The recommendation, among several others, by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister for an urban employment guarantee scheme on the lines of the MGNREGS can be a game-changer for the ruling party.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, May 23, 2022, 09:30 AM IST
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The proposed urban MGNREGS might help the urban unemployed tide over unemployment with a measure of civic work on payment of a decent wage. | AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU

Although it is still early days, it seems Modi may have already hit upon his winning formula to sew up the 2024 parliamentary poll. The recommendation, among several others, by the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister for an urban employment guarantee scheme on the lines of the MGNREGS can be a game-changer for the ruling party. Given how the government has implemented one welfare measure or the other ahead of all major electoral battles since Modi first became prime minister it would come as no surprise should there be an urban equivalent of MGNREGS ahead of the Lok Sabha poll.

Joblessness in urban conglomerates has not received adequate attention from the policymakers. Our big cities and towns are teeming with the educated unemployed, holding what are really worthless degrees fetching them little in the job market. That is why every now and then you come across reports of tens of thousands of graduates and post-graduates applying for a peon’s job in government. Since their so-called degrees make it hard for them to work in menial jobs, the proposed urban MGNREGS might help them tide over unemployment with a measure of civic work on payment of a decent wage.

The urban unemployed can be skilled to help in performing myriad civic services. For the manufacturing sector to create enough jobs for the ever-increasing number of the urban poor is futile. Manufacturing growth cannot, in the foreseeable future, keep pace with the growth of the educated poor. Some other mechanism has to be devised to help this large cohort of the population. The answer may lie in the urban MGNREGS. When it will be introduced can be a matter of speculation. That it most likely will be introduced in some form or the other seems certain, especially in view of the huge electoral dividend it promises for the ruling party.

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