Reverse migration of workers has posed a major challenge for their livelihood in the home states. Uttar Pradesh too stares at a sudden rise in the jobless population.
Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government has announced that the State’s Micro, Small and Medium-scale enterprises (MSME) can provide 90 lakh jobs.
“The CM has also directed the officials to expand the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to accommodate 50 lakh workers every day”, the government spokesperson said Tuesday.
Such tall claims have stunned the experts especially since the national and international agencies have predicted massive job losses across the sectors due to lockdown.
The State already had 34 lakh unemployed people just before lockdown, 54 per cent more compared to two years ago, UP's labour minister Swami Prasad Maurya had told the state assembly in a written reply in February 2020.
The idea behind creation of nearly one crore jobs in the MSME sector is based on the assumption that each of the 90 lakh units registered with the government can create one job each.
Incidentally, the lockdown has affected the MSME sector the most. Although the restrictions are being relaxed so that industries and businesses can open quickly, very few have managed to start by far that too with minimal production.
“Most of these units were facing tough time since last couple of years due to dwindling demands and economic slowdown. Most of them have not been able to pay salaries for months even before lockdown to their staff. They may take time to cope with the lockdown impact. Expecting them to hire more is nothing more than the day dream,” says Political Analyst Hemant Tiwari
Moreover, economists are forecasting the Indian economy to shrink 0.4% in the year to March as a result of steps to contain the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest survey by Bloomberg News. Other agencies have put out similar forecast.
UP, which has the fifth-largest economy in India, will also be affected in this scenario.
Besides, UP has been struggling to get investments despite massive efforts of the government. Some big projects announced early this year during the “Defence Expo” are yet to take off.
Tiwari blames “Team 11” constituted by Yogi to handle the pandemic for making unreal announcements. Team 11 is the group of 11 senior IAS officers which has been tasked to handle everything since the national lockdown was announced on March 24. The team 11 has virtually replaced the 50 ministers in the decision-making process.
Tiwari says, “The government is now functioning through babus who have no touch with the ground. We don’t know how do they arrive at such big figures. Had there been job opportunities in the state, why would lakhs of people migrate to far away states in first place.”
The MNREGA announcement is also questionable. As per the government data, the state provided average 45 days of jobs to 1.7 crore unskilled labourers in 2019-20 as against the mandatory 100 days a year.
“The government has already held up allowances of the government employees due to cash crunch. Hence, it is important that the government tells us how does it plan to accommodate lakhs of more people in MNREGA?” says Ravi Mishra, president of UP wing of the trade union CITU.