Gist of Kurukshetra :-February -2021

Empowering Rural Youth

Introduction

Rural youth have huge potential to be the drivers of India's economic engine and play a critical role in sustaining its growth. It is paramount that young people are propelled to channelise their creativity, skill and knowledge for rebuilding rural India. The government through several measures has been focusing on empowering rural youth by giving thrust on skill development, employment, entrepreneurship, innovation and talent development. Thus, the theme of this issue is aptly titled 'Empowering Rural Youth'.

The Ministry of Rural Development is currently implementing several programmes for creating skills and livelihood in rural areas. It is essential that Indian economy has the ability to support the increase in the labour force, provided the youth have the appropriate education, skills, health awareness and other enablers to productively contribute to the economy. Engaging rural youth in productive agricultural activities will help India to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend. Programmes like 'Start up India' and 'Stand up India' have been launched to promote Agri-Start-Ups along with several verticals of agriculture.

The importance of agriculture and allied sectors like livestock including dairying, fisheries, horticulture, apiculture & sericulture in rural employment generation is enormous. In 2020, even during the lockdown to curb spread of COVID-19, the agriculture sector recorded an impressive performance which has fuelled expectations for an agriculture led recovery of India's economy. The water and natural resources dependent industries and tourism sectors have potential to empower and engage rural youth.

The art and handicrafts sector is the second largest employment generator after agriculture. There are many existing opportunities and initiatives towards empowering rural artisans to be self-reliant or AatmaNirbhar. Hence it is important to integrate rural development with mainstream economic development models and make the vision of government “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas” a dream come true.

  • In India, the rural areas have seen substantial development because government policies aimed at improving rural housing, sanitation and welfare have contributed to transforming its landscape.
  • With half of India's population expected to be in rural India by 2050 and the bulk of the workforce emanating from rural India accounting for 70 percent of the total workforce , it Is widely acknowledged that the country's overall development will move parallel to the development of rural India.
  • Since independence, rural India has remained at the periphery of development that urban India has achieved.
  • Benefits trickled down to the rural hinterlands, but they were a far cry from the prosperity urban India enjoyed.

Important Government initiatives

Government made targeted efforts to improve rural livelihood with its initiatives. Some of which are as follows:

Name of the Scheme

Silent Features

Nai Roshni

It has been instituted to empower women who are key change agents, contributing to inclusive and sustainable growth in rural communities.

Ujjwala Yojana

It aims at providing clean-cooking fuel to the poor households and bringing in qualitative charges in the living standards.

Saubhagya Yojana

It promises free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana — Gramin (PMAY-G)

Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided for construction of houses. These houses are equipped with facilities such as toilet, LPG connection, electricity connection, and drinking water by making convergence with other schemes.

Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0

This version speaks of sustained behavioural change while embarking on the newer agendas of sustainable solid waste management and safe disposal of wastewater and reuse.

Bridging the Urban-rural Digital Divide:

  • Government's Digital India campaign that aims to connect the entire country digitally has provided a great impetus to transform rural India to match its urban counterpart.
  • In the meantime, digital technology has facilitated important 'quality of life' improvements in rural areas. Besides enabling tech-ecosystems, digital infrastructure has helped attract higher-paying jobs and allows remote work too; thus, addressing migration from villages.
  • Rural youth have increased gains from economic activities through easy access to market information and global markets.
  • These parallel processes help provide a competitive landscape for pricing and fair competition.
  • Perhaps the most significant impact of internet penetration is the support it provides to rural entrepreneurship.

Initiatives for Educating Rural India:

Along with the National Education Policy 2019 that includes online learning as an alternative, the government has taken various initiatives to promote digital learning:

Name of the Initiative

Silent Features

National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT)

It has been envisaged as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme to leverage the potential of ICT, in teaching and learning process for the benefit of all the learners in Higher Education Institutions in any time anywhere mode.

SWAYAM

SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.

SWAYAM Prabha

The SWAYAM PRABHA is a group of 34 DTH channels devoted to telecasting high-quality educational programmes on 24X7 bases using the GSAT-15 satellite.

National Digital Library (NDL)

It is a virtual repository of learning resources which is not just a repository with search/browse facilities but provides a host of services for the learner community.

Free and Open-Source Software for Education (FOSSEE)

This project promotes the use of FLOSS tools to improve the quality of education in our country. We aim to reduce dependency on proprietary software in educational institutions.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC)

NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions. Further, the organisation provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives.

Looking to the Future:

The pandemic has created a situation where even the urban dwellers chose to temporarily migrate to the safer, untouched rural lands for months or more. Rural natives have also chosen to stay at their hometowns and engage in traditional economic activities. The government and other social development organisations must grab this opportunity and initiate policies explicitly targeted at reverse migration.

  • Youth-led development is the key to a nation's advancement. With about 65 percent of its population under 35 years of age, India is one of the youngest nations in the world.
  • According to Census 2011 estimates, 70 percent of the youth population in India comprises rural youth.
  • India's rural youth then have the potential to be the drivers of its economic engine to power its growth.
  • For this, it is important that young people are propelled to channelise their creativity, skill and knowledge for rebuilding rural India.
  • A policy focus on empowering youth with an increased thrust on skill development, employment, entrepreneurship, innovation and talent development has been critical to the ag-round development of youth.

Important initiatives for skill development

  • An exclusive ministry to advance skill development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was formed in 2014. Some more initiatives are:

Initiatives

Silent Features

Transformation of Aspirational Districts programme

With this there has been a special focus on skill training of youth in 112 aspirational districts, including those from vulnerable and marginalised sections of society, with NITI Aayog, in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of MSME, Ministry of Youth Affairs and with support from corporate sector has taken the initiative to create a digital livelihood access platform — Unnati.

Aatma Nirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)

Al-based digital platform to bridge the demand-supply gap of skilled workforce across sectors. The platform integrates candidate data coming to the Skill India portal from various State and Central Skilling Schemes, the database of labour migrants including those who returned to India under and aims to connect job seekers with relevant livelihood opportunities in their local communities especially in the post-COVID-19 situation.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)

The Scheme has been initiated with the vision to empower at least one person per household with crucial digital literacy skills by 2020. This is expected to touch the lives of more than 250 million individuals over the next few years.

Atal Innovation Mission

Atal Tinkering Labs are set up to help school students find innovative solutions.

Case Study:

Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir for instance, runs a unique initiative of 'mobile skill training' in kani shawl weaving and traditional crewel embroidery for women. A group of 25-30 women in a village are trained in sheds which are rented spaces in houses of local residents. Once women trainees in a particular village have finished with their course, the skill centres move to other localities and villages. A mapping of the existing skill imparting capacities and identification of potential skilling infrastructure can enable better capacity building and infrastructure utilisation.

Mapping India’s digital journey

  • The Digital India campaign launched by the Government of India is to provide encouragement to a digital-savvy youth and leverage the growing internet penetration, especially among the younger population, which could be drivers of digital literacy and promotion in the entire country.
  • The Digital India journey has impacted all aspects of the lives of Indian citizens, including youth with initiatives of Aadhaar, Direct Benefit Transfer, Common Services Centers, DigiLocker, mobile based UMANG services, participatory governance through MyGov, JeevanPramaan to UN, Ayushman Bharat, e-Hospital, PM-Kisan, e-NAM, Soil Health Cards, SWAYAM, SWAYAM PRABHA, National Scholarship Portal, e-Pathshala, and so on.
  • A 'National Al Portal' and 'Responsible Al for Youth' was launched recently to lay the foundation for an Al-powered future.
  • Digital India's initiatives have also played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 situation with initiatives such as Aarogya Setu, E-Sanjeevani, sensitisation through MyGov and other social media platforms.
  • Fit India movement is led by youths with the help of government initiatives such as International Yoga day, Khelo India, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, National Service Scheme, NCC Scouts and Guides.
  • NITI aayog led ‘Lets play- An Action Plan to achieve 50 olympic medals’, focused on setting up sports universities, improving sports infrastructure. Even indigenous games are being encouraged by the government such as KhoKho, Kabaddi, Mallakhamb (Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra), Kalaripayattu (Kerala), Gatka (Punjab), Thang-ta (Manipur) .

Conclusion:

Moving forward, we need to continue to engage youth through cultural, digital and social media platforms so that they become aware about their rights and duties and emerge as forerunners in rebuilding rural India.

  • Agriculture contributes 17% to GDP and 50% population is dependent on it. There is a constant push to scale up the production and despite pandemic, the sector has given enormous production.
  • To meet the demands, think tanks have suggested use of science and technology and innovations with out of box solutions for higher productivity and income.
  • Here comes the critical role of skilled rural youth for the growth of the agricultural sector as ‘agents of change’.
  • Rural youth should invest in agri-entrepreneurship to generate stable revenue for them as well as the rural population.

Rural to Urban Migration: A big challenge

  • Every minute around 25-30 dwellers migrate to urban areas in search of better opportunities and better livelihood.
  • Average age of farmers is 55 years while the average age of India is 29 years.
  • If this situation exists for long then food security issues may rise in front of the country. M. S. Swaminathan recommended issues to be resolved in a systematic manner.
  • Later National Policy for Farmers 2007 was accepted by parliament to empower and encourage rural youth to take up self-employment in agriculture and allied sectors.

Opportunities and Offers to retain youth in Agriculture:

  • Transformation into profitable sector: Agriculture needs to be transformed into a high profitable venture with low risks and stability of income.
    • Exotic flowers and vegetables, medicinal mushrooms and herbs, high-value spices, have opened a new pathway to gain maximum profit from minimum land and resources.
    • In animal husbandry sector, dairying has emerged as one of the most lucrative 'profession' mainly due to a wide range of new products that have captured market recently; these include flavored milk, A2 milk, organic milk, flavored and frozer, yoghurt, dairy whiteners and whey.
  • Adoption of modern technologies: Adopting integrating farming models, precision farming, organic farming, protected cultivation, vertical farming are some potential options.
  • Addressing new opportunities: Consumers are increasingly inclined towards camel milk, goat milk and donkey milk due to their exclusive health benefits; and this opportunity needs to be explored by youth for business opportunities.
  • Smart technologies: Frontier areas of smart technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, remote sensing, data analytics, various Internet of Things (loT) devices, ICT apps, farming automations and drone technologies, are providing ample choices to select one, based on individual skills and resources.
  • Digital platforms: During the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, agri—tech startups stepped up and connected farmers with buyers on digital platforms. Some startups helped farmers by even directly selling the produce to consumers. In the post COVID-19 era, agri-startups are likely to play a seminal role in strengthening rural economy by pushing agricultural growth.

Government initiatives

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers welfare organises an annual event like Agri-India Hackathon 2020 wherein agri-tech startups are given opportunity to provide commercially viable and innovative solutions for identified challenge problems.
  • 'Agri-clinic and Agribusiness Centres' is another scheme of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' welfare to foster entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector.

ARYA to MAYA:

  • The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), apex body for spearheading agricultural research, education and extension in the country, launched a special project in 2015-16 to attract and empower rural youth to take up entrepreneurship in the agriculture sector. Entitled as 'Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture' (ARYA).
  • Enabled youth are facilitated and supported to establish micro-enterprise units in vocations such as apiary, mushroom, seed processing, poultry, dairy, vermi compost etc.
  • To steer the ARYA programme in the most gainful direction, ICAR took the initiative to develop a road map by organising a specific conference in 2018 on the theme, 'Motivating and Attracting Youth in Agriculture' (MAYA). The MAYA roadmap envisages grooming of rural youth in application of modern technologies in agriculture for economic growth and social respect.

Tapping Young Minds:              

  • A comprehensive scheme, entitled 'Student READY' (Rural Entrepreneurship Awareness Development Yojana), was launched from the academics session 2016-17. This is a well-structured one-year programme which includes several components designed to provide the requisite skills to agricultural graduates. The programme includes five critical components:
    • Experiential Learning (Business mode, Hands-on training, skill development)
    • RAWE- Rural Awareness Works Experience,
    • In- Plant Training,
    • Industrial Attachment or Internship and
    • Student Project.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research, has established 452 Experiential Learning Units in Agricultural Universities across the country with the objective to promote professional skills and knowledge through meaningful hands-on-experience.
  • The ICAR supports graduating students with a monthly stipend of Rs. 3,000 for a maximum of six months while undertaking 'Student READY' programme.
  • ICAR recently revamped the higher agricultural education network and launched the World Bank assisted 'National Agricultural Higher Education Project' (NAHEP) in Agricultural Universities across the country. The project is promoting efficiency and competitiveness with a view to make agricultural education more attractive to talented students.

Conclusion:           

To attract and sustain the youth in the agriculture sector, we need to develop a potent strategy with comprehensive backing from government bodies and public policy making institutions. We need to assure that the core concerns of rural youth are addressed effectively. Developing a new generation of 'Agri-preneurs' will be a stimulant to achieve the government's goal of doubling farmers' income in real terms by 2022.

India is predominantly a rural economy where agriculture and allied sectors play a vital role in national income, output, employment generation and foreign exchange earnings. More than 50 percent of the country's population is directly dependent on agriculture and allied sectors. There has been a tremendous increase in production of agriculture and allied sectors during the planned era of development Realising the potential of animal husbandry sector to strengthen the rural economy, the budgetary allocations have witnessed a rise through various schemes and initiatives like:

  • National Livestock Mission,
  • RashtriyaGokul Mission,
  • National Programme for Dairy Development,
  • National Programme for Bovine Breeding,
  • National Kamdhenu Breeding Centers etc.

In fact, agriculture in India is considered a playing gamble with the monsoon because almost in all parts of the country, agricultural production is very much dependent upon the rainfall. It is highly susceptible to natural calamities and risks like droughts, floods, pests, diseases etc. Apart from this, Indian agriculture is characterised with the presence of excess manpower in the form of large scale disguised and seasonal unemployment. It is necessary to promote allied sector activities like animal husbandry, pisciculture, horticulture, floriculture, apiculture, sericulture, forestry and logging and mining and quarrying etc to increase income opportunities.

Animal Husbandry:

Among the ancillary activities, animal husbandry being an integral part of farming in India is at the top. The livestock sector has emerged as a sustainable secondary source of income and generating gainful employment during the phases of seasonal unemployment, particularly to the landless, small and marginal farmers. India has been the largest producer of milk in the world since 1998 per capita availability of 394 grams per day as against the world average of 299 grams in 2018-19. Nearly 19 percent of the world's total milk production is contributed by India.

Pisciculture:

The fisheries sector is also an important source of income and employment generation in India. The country has rich and diverse fisheries resources due to its vast coast line and varied inland resources in the form of rivers, canals, lakes, ponds, tanks, reservoirs etc.  The sector provides livelihood to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain. The sector has been one of the major sources of foreign exchange earnings, with India being one of the leading seafood exporting rations in the world. In addition, there are job potentials in the field of fish processing, fish seed hatcheries, fish feed industry, aquaculture etc. With a view to boost the fish production through the creation of additional infrastructure facilities in the country, Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF) worth Rs. 7,522 crore was created in October 2018.

Horticulture:

The Horticulture sector is recognised to have the potential to augment rural income, enhance employment opportunities and promote exports earnings. The diverse agro climatic conditions and wide varieties of soil in the country make it possible to grow almost all types of horticultural products like fresh fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops, flowers, aromatic and medicinal crops, spices and plantation crops. There has been an unprecedented growth of this sector during the last two decades. As per third advance estimates of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, total horticultural production has increased from 145.78 million tonnes in 2001-02 to 319.57 million tonnes In 2019-20, registering ACGR of 4.22 percent during this period.

 India ranks second in fruits and vegetables production in the world, after China. The country ranks first in the production of banana, papaya, mango, lemon, ginger and okra. Despite huge production of horticultural crops, India's share in world exports amounts to less than 1.5 percent. Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) provides financial, technical and administrative support to State Governments for the development of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushroom, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa, bamboo and saffron. Apart from this, to promote horticultural exports, several centers for perishable cargoes and for post harvest handling facilities have been set up with the assistance of APEDA in the country.

Floriculture:

Floriculture is an age-old farming activity practiced in India. It has immense potential for generating gainful self-employment among small and marginal farmers. The diverse agro-climatic conditions enable the growth of all types of flowers in one or the other part of the country round-the-year. Due to increased demand of floriculture products in the home market and abroad, farmers have been shifting from sustenance to commercial production of flowers. As per the third advance estimate of the National Horticulture Board, the production of flowers reached at 2.99 million tonnes in 2019-20, witnessing 2.89 percent increase over the previous year.

The major importing countries of Indian flower products are U.S.A., U.K., Netherlands, Germany and UAE. The Government of India has identified floriculture as a sunrise industry and accorded 100 percent export oriented status to it. The Government has set up six agri-export zones for floriculture; one each in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Sikkim and Uttarakhand and two in Tamil Nadu. APEDA has introduced several schemes for promoting floriculture exports from the country. These relate to development of infrastructure, packaging, market development, subsidy on air freight etc. With foreign technical collaborations, the Indian floriculture industry is poised to exhibit strong growth in its production and hence increase its share in world trade.

Apiculture:

Apiculture or beekeeping is a lucrative profit giving venture with very low or negligible investment. If practiced in a scientific manner, it can generate huge employment and improve the economic condition of rural people. Beekeeping is not restricted to extraction of honey only, but other products such as royal jelly, bee wax, pollen, propolis and bee venom also yield good income to the farmers. With an output of 64,900 tonnes, India ranked eighth in the world in honey production in 2017-18.

 India is one of the leading honey exporting countries. According to an official report, India has a potential of about 200 million bee colonies as against the present level of 3.4 million. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has been giving thrust on promotion and development of scientific apiculture in the country in view of its crucial role in income and employment generation. In this direction a new central sector scheme entitled National Beekeeping and Honey Mission (NBHM) has been launched to achieve the goal of Sweet Revolution in the country.

Sericulture:

Sericulture is an age old avocation in India. The Sericulture and silk industry has great potential to contribute towards rural income and employment generation, poverty alleviation and women empowerment. India is the second largest producer of silk (after China) in the world with its unique distinction of being the only country producing all the four commercially known varieties of silk viz. Mulberry, Eri, Tasar and Muga. India's silk industry provides gainful employment to over 9.43 million persons of which a sizable number belong to the economically weaker sections of society. The Indian silk products have high export potential because of their distinctiveness and low cost of production

For the development of sericulture and silk industry in the country, The Central Silk Board was established immediately after independence in 1948. It acts as a facilitator to the States in guiding them to improve productivity and quality of silk through Research and Development intervention, supply of basic seed, post cocoon technology intervention and capacity building. In 2017, in order to strengthen the beneficiary oriented components in sericulture, the central sector scheme-Silk Samagra, was launched with the provision of an outlay of Rs.2161.68 crore.

Agro Processing:

Agro processing industry is seen as a key instrument for ameliorating the economic lot of the vast majority of people living in poverty in rural India. Rural areas provide abundant raw material from agricultural, horticultural and animal produce to start entrepreneurship in the field of agro-processing. Agro processing not only enables to reduce the post harvest wastages but also helps to fetch fair and remunerative prices to the producers through value addition in their agricultural produce. Presently, processing of fruits and vegetables is only two percent in India, in comparison to 80 percent in the USA.

The food processing sector faces a conducive growth environment, owing to the availability of fresh, abundant & affordable raw material on the one hand and favorable government policies on the other. Moreover, due to rising consumer affordability, rapid urbanization and change in lifestyle, the preference for processed agro-products has been increasing rapidly. There is an enormous and ever increasing demand for canned fruits, juice, jam, jelly, sauce, pickle and honey etc. in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. These activities can be started on part time as well as full time basis as they have very high employment potential with significantly low investment. Realising the importance of the food processing sector for the economy, a central sector scheme, PradhanMantriKisanSampada Nana, with the total outlay of Rs. 6,000 crone was launched in 2016. It aims at the creation of modern infrastructure with an efficient supply chain for the processed food industry.

Water Sector

Water is an essential resource for survival of mankind, we should also consider that the water sector is also a very necessary and irreplaceable resource for economic growth. As per the United Nations report on Water and jobs, it has been estimated that half of the world's workforce i.e., about 1.5 billion people are dependent and employed in one of the eight water and natural resources dependent industries. Hence, it is evident that the water sector in different facets has a potential to empower the rural youth.

  • Making rural India ODF++, collecting and reusing wastewater has its own relevance which can only help in conserving and consuming water efficiently but can also create job opportunities in the wastewater sector.
  • Water contamination is an important concern that poses a huge health burden on rural communities. The idea is to leverage communities and private firms offering them a platform to invest in water purification plants at decentralised levels.
  • JalJeevan Mission (JMM) operational guidelines also mentioned to identify and train five women from every village to undertake water quality surveillance through Field Test Kits (FTKs) and sanitary inspections.
  • Availability of water for effective irrigation is crucial to the agriculture sector ensuring food security for the country. Realising the potential of traditional water harvesting structures in managing and supporting agriculture, several civil society organisations and government departments have tried and contributed in reviving traditional water structures.

Tourism Sector:

The tourism industry, one of the largest contributors to India's GDP, has been hit due to global spread of coronavirus pandemic. As per Word Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Covid-19 pandemic costs the tourism industry at least USD 22 billion resulting in a loss of 50 million jobs globally'. India boasts varied travel destinations ranging from religious destinations to nature friendly destinations to adventure destinations and much more. Uncharted rural India can attract a large number of domestic travellers offering them an authentic taste and serene beauty of India.

  • Recently launched, Government's scheme 'DekhoApnaDesh' is one such initiative to promote domestic tourism in India, intended to enhance tourist footfalls, so as to help develop the local economy'.
  • 'Education tourism':Practical training and exposure have always been considered important. There are several global organisations which used to develop educational tour programmes in India for international travellers.

Conclusion

Employment generation coupled with improving employability of rural masses has always been the priority of the Government. The main focus is on strengthening the rural economy by reviving agriculture and allied sectors in the country. The Government is keen to doublefarmers' income by the targeted year 2022, through launching new schemes. In addition to boost income from crop cultivation, the focus of attention should be on promoting allied and non-farm activities in rural areas so that farmers can get gainful employment during the slack season.

Special impetus on creating scientific temper and fostering innovative spirit among the rural youth to attract them to agro-processing, agribusiness and agri-preneurship deserve to be at the top priority of Government and policy makers. Last but not least, a joint effort on the part of the Government, private sector and self-help-groups supported by the public at large can play a vital role in promoting ancillary and allied activities and ultimately enhancing employment opportunities in rural India.

A host of policy reforms, and expansion of agri business opportunities have brought in a rapid transformation in the agriculture and allied sector due to the introduction of several applications in the domain of crop science and with the use of innovative technologies. The Government of India also launched ambitious programmes for agri infrastructure, credit, market reforms, minimum basic income, and risk management, which are expected to improve profitability of farming and farm ventures.

The employment opportunities for rural youth:

  • Agricultural marketing is expected to attract more investments with the introduction of landmark reforms, reduce the market unpredictability and improve price realisation.
  • Precision farming has created a demand for services of skilled professionals in farm machinery, greenhouse farming, pesticide and fertiliser application, micro-irrigation and solar energy.
  • Organic farming has generated renewed interest worldwide and in India, organic products are growing between 25 and 30 percent, annually.
  • A raft of smart technology applications based on AI, Big Data, Internet of Things have enabled farmer-entrepreneurs to make smart decisions, adopt better farm management.
  • Market reforms age, would create additional demand for highly skilled professions associated with forward trading, risk analysis, commodity management, etc.

Challenges for rural youth employment:

  • Despite the good literacy figures, a fraction of the population (especially the rural parts) lacks awareness about existing employment opportunities existing in the country. Young populations, irrespective of their location, whether rural or urban, are an asset for a country.
  • Literacy figures may provide a good picture of rising education amongst the masses, but the labour market is highly skill oriented. Those who have a good academic record and have all the desired skills, enter high paying jobs, while those with a poor economic background cannot avail the basic education.
  • In the year 2020 the employment scenario was worst hit due to the unexpected arrival of the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic that has grasped the entire world until now.
  • One such bottleneck affecting the employment of individuals in the rural region had been the lack of skills possessed by the fraction of rural population. The government schemes along with corporate initiatives have played an immensely important role in removing these bottlenecks, but still there is a long way to go.
  • As mentioned, a larger fraction of the youth labour force resides in the rural areas, and most of the
  • A person with poor health reflects as a non-productive human capital. So any employing entity requires a productive human capital which adds on to their organisation as an asset rather than a liability.
  • With advancement in technology, the labour market requires individuals who can update themselves with new age technology, and those who failed to acquire such skills are forced to move out of the system. Thus, even after training, all such beneficiaries under the scheme should be motivated to upgrade their skills with time.

Central Government Organisations and missions for youth employment:

  • Foundation of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in 2008
  • The launching of Skill India Mission in 2015.
  • Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI)
  • For designing the course curriculum, content, assessment and certification of skill programmes the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) was made.

Central Government Schemes for youth employment:

It was observed that the main challenges of skill development among the youth are the high cost of vocational training, less flexibility and mobility associated with vocational education.

Name of The Scheme

Silent Features

The National Skill Development Mission (NSDM)

The NSDM aims to consolidate efforts of skill training and development across sectors and states and help sectors expedite steps to achieve various skilling efforts at scale at a fast pace.

DeenDayalUpadhyayaGrameenKaushalyaYojana (DDU-GKY)

DDU-GKY is a part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth.

National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM)

This is the Mission for poverty reduction. Skill development through the Rural Self Employment and Training Institutes (RSETIs), enables trainees to take bank credit and start his/her own Micro-enterprise.

Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs)

ITIs particularly those in rural areas, work on stronger collaborations with industry partners so that ITI students can get hands-on industry exposure while undergoing training in the institutes.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

It is the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) implemented by National Skill Development Corporation. The objective of this Skill Certification Scheme is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood. Individuals with prior learning experience or skills will also be assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

District Skill Committees

They can organise Information, Education and Communication activities for creating awareness and for problem solving. They can come up with innovative methods for providing access to skill and for making skills relevant to the needs of the local population and realise their aspirations.

AtmaNirbhar Skilled Employee Employer Mapping (ASEEM)

Al-based digital platform to bridge the demand-supply gap of skilled workforce across sectors. The platform integrates candidate data coming to the Skill India portal from various State and Central Skilling Schemes, the database of labour migrants including those who returned to India under and aims to connect job seekers with relevant livelihood opportunities in their local communities especially in the post-COVID-19 situation.

Neighbourhood Youth Parliament

Organised by Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan for encouraging debates and discussions among youths

Aajeevika under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)

Aided in part through investment support by the World Bank, the Mission aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor, enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.

Barefoot Technician Programme under Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

To make new employment opportunities at the part of  MGNREGA scheme.

GOAL programme

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs in collaboration with Facebook has introduced mentorship to tribal youth through digital mode.

UDAAN

Udaan program is focused on youth of J&K who are graduate, post graduate or three year diploma engineers. The aim is to provide skills and job opportunities to the youth.

The National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward (STAR scheme)

It has been launched for encouraging skill development: among the youth by providing monetary rewards for successful completion of approved training programmes.

Advanced Vocational Training Scheme (AVTS)

 The aim of the scheme is to upgrade and update the skills of serving industrial workers, this was launched in 1977.

State Government Schemes for youth employment:

Apart from the Central schemes, States run their own forward-looking and aspirational skill development schemes that are NSQF-aligned and linked to employed creation. Some such schemes in which ASCI is involved in curriculum design, assessment, and certification are:

  • Utkarsh Bangla scheme of West Bengal,
  • Placement Linked Skill Training Programme of Assam,
  • SURYA scheme of Haryana,
  • Employment Linked Skill Training Programme of Rajasthan,
  • Entrepreneurship and Employment Linked Skill Training Programme of Uttarakhand,
  • Skill training Programmes under APSSDC, UPSDM, and BSDM.

Skill Courses in Schools and Colleges:

The New Education Policy 2020 as cleared by the Union Cabinet has proposed to make VET as an integral part of school and higher education in a phased manner. This is a historic form that has the potential to address the long-standing issues of integrating vocational and academic education, ensure mobility, and make skill programmes aspirational. SamagraShikshaAbhiyaan of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD). Till now there are 1527 schools across 22 States, which run agriculture courses assessed and certified courses.

Skill-based programmes can also be taken as part of the higher education system under the University Grants Commission (UGC). The opportunities for doing a certificate, diploma, B.VOC.or M.VOC courses has expanded considerably. In these flexible credit-based skilling programmes there is also scope for multiple entries and exit enabling the candidates to enter job markets at the end of a course and re-join skilling programme at a higher level to upgrade skill competencies. At present, there are 130 UGC affiliated colleges where NSQF aligned skill-based training courses in agriculture are being run.

Apprenticeships

The National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) has significantly improved the scope, access, and effectiveness of the apprenticeship programme. Apprentices are now eligible for a monthly stipend of Rs. 5,000-9,000 depending on educational qualification and experience. There are a wide range of opportunities provided by agri-input companies, agri-logistics, warehouses, pack houses and commodity management; crop insurance, organised retail, and technology-intensive modern farms, which requires skilled labour to manage their activities.

Involvement of Industry

Industry participation in the skill ecosystem is critical for bridging the skill gaps, in-service and apprenticeship training, training of trainers, and absorption of trained candidates. Certificates under Skill India Mission carry a greater weight and wider acceptability as all the agriculture modules have been approved by professional bodies and largest industry players. Certified skilled candidates have also been able to secure international placements.

Support for Entrepreneurs

Important strides have been made in capacity building and empowerment of farmers through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in collaboration with State Governments, autonomous bodies, and industry leaders-

  • Maharashtra Agri Skilling Programmes (2.5 lakh farmers in group farming),
  • Kerala Agro-industries Corporation (40 thousand in solanaceous crops, coconut, and gardening),
  • National Fisheries Development Board (12 thousand in fisheries),
  • Spices Board (20 thousand in organic farming and vermicompost),

Tea Board (20 thousand tea growers),

  • Assam Skill Development Mission (20 thousand in sericulture, tea, bamboo plantation),
  • Patanjali Bio Research Private limited (80 thousand in group farming and organic cultivation), etc.

Conclusion:

Agriculture is truly the backbone of India's economy, reverberating with a new dynamism and excitement. The sector is poised for a big leap forward towards a sustainable future. India's skill ecosystem has geared up to be an effective tool to harness the power and enthusiasm of youth who are at the forefront of this transformation and ASCI is committed to upgrade their skills by building necessary infrastructure, tools and the right capabilities.

India's exceptionally gifted rural artisans have contributed significantly to the nation's economy for many decades by their eye catching work. The art and handicrafts sector is the second largest employment generator after agriculture. According to the 2011 Census, there are over 68 lakh artisans in the country of which 55 percent are women. Handicrafts have sustained lakhs of artisans through the years. The sector provides employment to a large number of craftspersons in rural and semi urban areas and also generates substantial foreign exchange for the country. Its contribution in preserving India's cultural heritage deserves to be acknowledged.

 India is the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets since 2013-2014. This is not surprising given the fact that 20 lakh of the total number of artisans are related to the carpet sector. The diversity of India's handicrafts is equally impressive. These include Dhokra, the oldest form of handicraft made by Tribals which originated in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from these, India has a rich variety of handicrafts of clay, paper, embroidery, bamboo, cane, jute, shell wood, rock, bell metal, bone, horn and brass. To organise and standardise the Indian handicrafts, approximately 22.85 lakh artisans have been trained under 'Pahchan' initiative.

Self-reliance is the philosophy handed down to Indians by none other than the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister ShriNarendraModi's continued emphasis on encouraging self-reliance through the Make-in-India initiative is well known.

  • The Central government launched, in its first term, a trade facilitation centre and crafts museum in Varanasi in 2014. The objective was to bring weavers and artisans under the same roof and give them marketing opportunities.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) conceptualised by Prime Minister in 2015, has left no stone unturned, to realise his dream of making India the enviable skill capital of the world.
  • Poorv Kaushalyako Manyata better known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) as a component of its flagship scheme- the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • The Skill India programme of, the government also has a dedicated handicrafts and carpet skill council aimed at preserving cultural heritage.
  • The Skill India programme has identified close to 90 job roles across sub sectors such as carpets, ceramics, glassware, traditional fashion jewellery, handcrafted textiles, handicrafts such as incense sticks and bamboo, metal ware, papiermache, stone craft, wood ware and handicraft toys.
  • The Ministry has collaborated with school boards such as the Central Board for Secondary Education to catch young citizens. The objective is to acquaint the youth with India's cultural heritage at an early age to equip them with skills and give them a possible career option.
  • The Ministry of Minority Affairs has been organising HunarHaats under USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) scheme. The USTTAD scheme aims at preserving and promoting the rich heritage of the traditional arts and crafts of the minority communities. 'HunarHaat' is becoming an effective platform to strengthen the mission of "AatmaNirbhar Bharat" and "Vocal for Local" initiative by promoting and encouraging indigenous products of master artisans and craftsmen.
  • Handicraft artisans can avail of MUDRA loan and margin money provided by the Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts).
  • Under the National Handicrafts Development Programme in 2018-19 and 2019-20, the office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) implemented the Direct Benefit Scheme for artisans as a welfare measure. Some of these schemes included the Handicrafts artisans comprehensive welfare scheme which gives the artisans an identity card to enable them avail of all the schemes of the government.
  • Office of Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), is implementing over half a dozen generic schemes for the development of the handicrafts sector. These are the Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana, design and technology upgradation, marketing support and services, research and development, human and resource development, handicrafts artisans comprehensive welfare scheme and infrastructure and technology development scheme.
  • While Baba Saheb Hastshilp Vikas Yojana launched in 2001-02 is a cluster specific scheme, the other schemes cut across clusters.
  • A subsection of the Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana named Dastkar Sashaktikaran Yojana, facilitates community empowerment for mobilising artisans into self-help groups and societies.
  • Apart from this, other welfare measures are thePradhan Mantri Jeevan Bima Yojana/ Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Modified Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana through 'Life Insurance Corporation of India to provide life insurance protection to handicraft artisans.
  • The Mahila Coir Yojana scheme exclusively for training rural women artisans in spinning of coir yarn/various coir processing activities is provided to rural women.
  • The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has been implementing A Scheme for Promoting Innovation, Rural Industry and Entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) to create new jobs in traditional and agri-based industries.
  • The Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) aims to organise such industries and artisans into clusters to make them competitive and provide support for their long-term sustainability, sustained employment, and enhanced marketability of products. SUFURTI works towards development of khadi, village industries, and coir clusters by providing workers improved equipment, common facilities centres, business development services, training, capacity building and design, and marketing support.
  • To develop socio economic conditions of tribal population, government initiatives led to the formation of Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) in 1987. TRIFED enables the tribal artisans even from the innermost regions to participate in the process of their socio-economic development through formulation of decent earning methods.
  • According to Compendium of Geographical Indication Tags of India, a good number of handicraft products were registered crafts under Geographical Indication (GI) Tag. This will work wonders and help artisans get credibility for their products. Some of the handicrafts that have been given GI tags recently are:
    • Madhubani paintings of Bihar
    • Kangra paintings of Himachal Pradesh
    • Kutch embroidery of Gujarat
    • Bronze ware from Karnataka
    • Phulkari from Punjab

Conclusion:     

               Artisans not only contribute to rural economy but also they contribute for development of art. India being hub of traditional artisans, India can use its cultural ambassadors to boost its economy and also to export its culture to improve soft power globally.

© 2020 Basix Education Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved