Saturday, October 4, 2008

Jobless Economic Growth or Job led Ecomonic Growth decide are some facts

o The sample surveys of NSS clearly indicate a decline in the growth in employment during the 1990's despite reporting a comparatively higher growth rate in GDP.This is indicative of the fact that production is less labour intensive.

o The surveys clearly illustrate that the overall growth rate of unemployment was largely attributable to a near stagnation of employment in agriculture.

o The organized sector contributes only about 8-9 per cent of the workforce, that too predominantly from the public sector. However, it is important to note that organized sector employment has witnessed some positive trend particularly in the private sector, which in the current state of buoyancy of the industrial sector

o Prof Swaminathan himself has put it "The world is witnessing what is often referred to as "jobless economic growth". Jobless growth becomes joyless growth in developing countries where both population pressure and the number of unemployed women and men are growing"

o The Government is committed to strengthening the rural, social and economic infrastructure. This includes revamping the rural credit delivery system and reversing policy biases against agriculture

o As a result of various development efforts being made, the incidence of poverty expressed as percentage of people below the poverty line has significantly declined in India during the past two decades. However, those at the lower end of this economic ladder continue to remain poor participants in the growth process and do not benefit from it adequately. They do need improved access to financial services, particularly the capital funds, to become more useful contributors in the economic development process.

o All India Debt and Investment Survey (GoI), 1992, gave indications that the share of non-institutional agencies (informal sector) in the outstanding cash dues of the rural households was quite high at 36%.

o The share of debt from the non-institutional credit agencies was a whopping 58% in the case of the lowest asset group of less than Rs.5,000 as against a low of 19% in the highest asset group of Rs. 2.5 lakh and above (as on 30 June 1991).

o The main hurdle faced by banks in financing the very poor seemed to be the comparatively high transaction cost in reaching out to a large number of borrowers who required very small doses of credit at frequent intervals

o In cases where credit was made available to the poor through special programmes, absence of an integrated savings component and something to fall back upon in case of any adversity was leading to poor repayment performance. The problem was further confounded, as the users were unable to distinguish between the State support (grants/ relief) and bank credit. The political expediency for “removing poverty at a stroke” was putting resources for running micro enterprises in the hands of the poor without nurturing them to handle such resources.

o NABARD made its debut in the microFinance sector in 1992 through a Pilot Project for promoting 500 SHGs and financing them through banks

o Today : Cumulatively, 10,79,000 SHGs were instrumental in channelling bank finance to 167 lakh poor families. The cumulative bank loan to SHGs is whopping Rs 3904 crore from the banking system.

o The sustainability of any linkage or relationship hinges on the continuum of the purpose- its independence, ability to generate tangible surpluses for the primary stakeholders and benefit from the relationship and lastly their ability to network with the environment and remain relevant

o Self Reliance : This internal resources mobilized through savings and retained earnings are at the core of self-reliance, self-help and self-financing

o Empowerment: the process of SHGs joining hands with the formal banking structure has touched the lives of millions of poor women, building their self-confidence and increasing their self-worth

o Corporate linkages: Project Shakti of HLL provides micro-enterprise opportunities for women from Self-Help Groups, making them direct-to-home distributors of Hindustan Lever.

o All these developments are a clear indication of the things in store; the employment creation in the future essential be addressed by the informal sector like the extemporaneous societal groups like SHGs

o These need investments in building capacities of the poor in creating awareness, in basic numeracy, in economic literacy and above all believing in themselves, away from the dependency syndrome

o The SHG-bank linkage programme embodies creation of a supplementary financial infrastructure, to vitalize and support the existing structure. SHG-bank linkage holds the promise of fulfilling the country’s need to make the poorer sections participate in the growth process. It symbolizes great human action for economic development, calling for participation from a larger section of the society

o The mobilization of the people, formation of groups and nurturing them so that these could be linked to the banking system requires large human and financial resources. The primary responsibility for this is of the State. Without doubt it transcends the confines of the corporate mission of NABARD and represents a significant need of the nation as well. In a large movement of this dimension, besides the State, the citizens have a role to play.

o The cost of inaction on these issues is too dreadful to contemplate. We must act now to start the process of creating a better future for the poor and unemployed by enabling not by providing. The poor cannot confront the challenges of tomorrow with (no skills) or yesterday's skills

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Works at NABARD for poor HH / was Research Affiliate at CDS, Tvm / was Visiting Faculty on microFinance for MBA students NMIMS, Mumbai.