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The Pursuit of Urban Employment: A Fragmented Journey

Urban Employment

Context: Several states are launching urban employment guarantee schemes akin to MGNREGA, with Rajasthan initiating the Indira Gandhi Shahari Rozgar Yojana (IGRY), mirroring the rural employment act. The scheme promises 100 days of unskilled employment, employing rozgar sahayaks to promote awareness and oversee operations.

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Spread of State Programs

Jharkhand, Odisha, Kerala, and Himachal Pradesh have introduced similar programs in response to the mass reverse migration post the pandemic. Yet, these schemes face challenges—limited scope, less attractive wages for skilled labor, payment delays, and inconsistent worker enrollment due to urban job availability.

Mixed Impact and Challenges

While schemes like Kerala’s Ayyankali Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme (AUEGS) show beneficiary growth, they grapple with implementation disparities. Urban populations are scattered and wary of these programs, favoring more reliable urban jobs.

A Call for Change

Despite numerous state and national-level urban employment initiatives, none have significantly curbed urban unemployment. Presently, India’s urban unemployment rate stands high at 9.8%, warranting innovative solutions.

Proposed Solutions

Development economist Jean Dreze proposed the Decentralised Urban Employment and Training (DUET) scheme, suggesting job stamps for institutions to convert into work opportunities, facilitating direct government payment to workers.

Alarming Unemployment Levels

India grapples with its highest unemployment rates in four decades, especially among the youth. Recent statistics reflect a stark comparison to past unemployment records.

Way Ahead

India needs to capitalize on its vast workforce. Advocacy, combined with initiatives like The Bhagat Singh National Urban Employment Guarantee Bill, is pivotal. Although state schemes are commendable, parliamentary Acts like MGNREGA hold greater permanence, ensuring continuity.

Read Also: Job Creation: A Big Challenge

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