‘Maut Ka Saudagar. ‘Chaiwala’, ‘Pakodawala’ – Now Jumla’s etc?

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(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

Out of power, Congress Party leadership is invoking all sorts of clichés to malign the Modi and the BJP. Congress Party failure to learn lessons from the past clearly exposes lack of political sagacity.

The latest invocation is by former finance minister P Chidambaram, who attacked the government on the Budget, listing “three jumlas” — minimum support price for food grains, promised jobs and a new healthcare insurance scheme.

P Chidambaram, aka Chuddu (with several meanings like a person who is idiot and believes that he or she is the best in the whole world), must acknowledge the failure of the Congress Party to effectively implement “GHARIBI HATAO”, slogan coined by Indira Ghandy whilst in power in 1970.

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Also, Chuddu must acknowledge and accept blame for ‘population explosion and demographic transitions’ adversarial to peace and progress to plunge the country into present dismal mess.

All political parties make poll promises fully realizing that it is beyond their capability to fulfill them. And, Modi and the BJP are equally to be faulted for showing the moon to the gullible people.

If India, the “Patient” is critically ill (ICU state on ventilator), Chuddu Sahib must gracefully apologize to the nation for failure of the Congress Party to deliver end results in all spheres – political, social, economic, technology and security forces (having enjoyed 60 year of power out of 70 years).

Let me point out to “CHUDDU Sahib” that “Chaiwalas, Pakodawalas and their ilk” are all jobs in the unorganized sector – self employment and entrepreneurial skills. No need to go to the International Organization to get recognition to such jobs.CHUDDU and his BIG BOSS (Rahul Ghandy) needs to walk along with me from opposite “Rythu Bazar” in Alwal to Secunderabad Station to realize the significance of “Chaiwalas, Pakodawalas, Tiffin center Kiosks/Stalls, Meal Stalls on the pavements and so on” providing service to a large number of people travelling in various transportation modes including cars.

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Does CHUDDU know how much a “Chaiwala or Pakodawala” makes in a day? When I enquired from the Tea Stall near my house, I was surprised to find that he makes a profit of Rs.30, 000/- per month after meeting expenditure – inputs and employing a worker paying him Rs.12, 000/ per month.

Look at the shops dotting on either side of main roads and radials stretching for 30-40 kilometers in the city of Hyderabad-Secunderabad, one will appreciate the contribution of ‘Self-Employment Jobs Generation” in the Indian economy. Even in my village, the main road bristles with economic activity including “Beauty Clinics”.

If CHUDDU Sahib or the pseudo economic experts think that the government can create government jobs, he is living in a ‘fool’s paradise’. CHUDDU Sahib and his ilk must realize that additional government jobs implies adding more “White Elephants or Blood Suckers” thriving on the hard work of people at grass root level.

If “CHUDDU Sahib and his BIG BOSS” are genuine in promoting, advancing and consolidating future prospects for the country, first they must actively take forward the proposal to hold “Simultaneous Elections for the Parliament and State Assemblies”.  Accept they must, not only the country can no longer continue to bear the burden of extravaganza of democracy financially, but also promote and consolidate social harmony so vital for unity and integrity of the country.

Most importantly, all alike must unite to contain “Population explosion and Demographic transition – hotbed for identity crises surge.  Administratively, all government jobs and facilities are restricted to those having one or two children only.

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In reality, India faces ‘horror prospects’ to overcome the challenges of “Crisis of Unemployment.” Amit Shah, President of BJP, recently hit “the Nail on the Head” when he stated “Not possible to give jobs to everyone in the country of 125 crores”. India’s population has already crossed 134 crores and racing ahead at 1.2% annual growth rate to reach 200 crores by 2050 with 5% unaccounted population taken into account.

Why are none of the MPs highlighting the above issue in the Parliament? Out of fear of losing their vote banks!

India’s constraints are quite explicit. Land is finite; its load bearing capacity over stretched. Natural resources have depleted. Capital is scarce. Fossil fuel reserves are quite low unless new reserves are discovered in Andaman Sea territory. “Youth Bulge” is known to all. “Robotics” is all set dramatically to change the “rules of the game of manufacturing” by 2030.

Nearly 10 lakhs are entering India’s workforce each MONTH. Experts are projecting 28 crores to flood the workforce by 2050. So, no “Magic wands” for “Jobs for all”.  Instead of criticizing just for making headlines in visual media, I dare challenge CHUDDU and his BIG BOSS to formulate and submit the road map ahead for providing 10 lakhs jobs in a MONTH.

Job prospects and opportunities are grim particularly with the ongoing massive lay-offs in the Information Technology sector and H1B Visa restrictions in USA, Australia and other countries even for B. Tech qualified students. What is the scope for employability of low quality human resources?

With job opportunities scarce, the situation could lead to massive unrest if India’s leaders don’t find a way to address it with utmost expediency. Technically qualified unemployed youth are bound to look for easy opportunities in other avenues like politics, guns, drugs, smuggling, hacking etc. Explode societal violence all around on narrow sectarian lines.

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Let me reiterate that the so called liberalization of 1990s did little to boost India’s manufacturing industry. Poor infrastructure, labor laws, license Raj and uncompetitive labor costs resulted in MNCs opting for other nations. Add to it, spread of rampant corruption to all vitals of the nation. Meanwhile, global businesses and trade have become increasingly highly competitive.

Even today, India’s merchandise exports account for just 1.6% of the total trade. Ipso facto, domestic driven low cost manufacturing through value chain in traditional sectors like textiles to daily usage electronic items were lost to Bangladesh, China, Japan and other South Asian countries what to talk of high-tech high-cost industries for either export or domestic use.

Ipso facto, 58.2% of India’s total imports by value in 2016 were purchased from other Asian countries. European trade partners supplied 17.5% of import sales to India while 7.4% worth originated from North America with 7.3% coming from suppliers in Africa.

Even after 3 years, India imported nearly 33% of items valued around $ 85 billion in 2016: Electrical machinery, equipment: $37 billion (10.4%); Machinery including computers: $32.5 billion (9.1%) 5 billion; Organic chemicals: $14.8 billion (4.1%); Plastics, plastic articles: $11.4 billion (3.2%); Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $10.5 billion (2.9%); Iron, steel: $8.7 billion (2.4%); and Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $7.2 billion (2%).

Surely, India boasts of technical excellence in electrical machinery, equipment, electronics, computers, and so on. At least, domestic industry must meet domestic demands by offering at competitive costs as against Chinese or Japanese or other South East Asian countries.

Next, the issue of Minimum Support Price to the farmers – Jumna. It was badly needed to ensure reasonable profits for the formers.  Agriculture, mostly seasonal, meanwhile, lost ground due to dismal failure to accelerate transfer of modern technologies to include green houses, drip and sprinkler irrigation, besides ravages of drought and floods.

Who is to be blamed for the present agrarian crisis? Once again, the blame falls on the Congress Party. Unfortunately, agriculture has not been given due attention for absorbing rural unemployed labor in rural areas. One cannot help but highlighting the success story of Almeria in Spain. 64,000 acres of plastic greenhouse-like structures is at the heart of the country’s agriculture industry and exports almost three-quarters of its crops to other parts of Europe.

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According to data from EXTENDA (Andalusia Agency for Foreign Promotion), the value of exports of fruit and vegetables in 2012 amounted to 1,914.1 million Euros (nearly $3 billion), a growth of 9.7% compared to 2011. Fresh vegetables and vegetables contributed 1,665.5 million. There were 359 exporting companies, 222 regular. Among the client countries are Germany, 29.7% of the total, France, 15%, even the Netherlands, 13.1%, the United Kingdom, 11.3%, and Italy, 7.2%. They are followed by Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Portugal.

What is needed is to replicate Spain’s “Almeria” model under “Special Agri Zone (SAZ)” like Special Export Zones (SEZ) and industrial parks and offering attractive financial subsidies and total technical expertise to interested parties. To start with, “Public-Private-Partnership (PPP)” model in collaboration with either Israel or Spain or Netherland based on “Transfer-of-Technology (TOT)” model may be considered to develop SAZs in various states.

Alongside, dairy farming, fisheries and forestry should have also been given impetus. Ironic, but true, that all of them continue to remain stagnant so much so that import of fruits, vegetable oils etc continue as hither to fore including Macdonald’s and KFCs Chicken.

Finally, universal healthcare particularly for the poor is a badly needed requirement – the third “JUMLA”.  In 1950s and 1960s, free health care including medicines were provided to all alike in government hospitals. Why not now at least for the poor?

Can Modi and the BJP deliver on the “Three Jumlas”? Time alone can expose the realities to emerge. After all, it requires huge financial investments, technical expertise and infrastructure.

Finally, Indian economy also needs to progressively and incrementally implement digitalization. Workers of every stripe—from corporate finance officers to sales people to utility workers and nurses—are now spending sizable portions of their workdays using tools that require digital skills. It requires high digital knowledge and skills. A lot is happening and a huge shift is taking place.

Image result for digitalization of indian economyJob growth is rapid in high-digital level occupations, such as computer-mathematical and business-finance occupational groups, as well as in low-digital level occupations, such as personal care and food preparation. By contrast, middle-digital occupations, such as office-administrative and education occupations have seen much slower job growth.  Women, with slightly higher aggregate digital scores represent about three-quarters of the workforce in many of the largest medium-digital occupational groups, such as health care, office administration, and education. Conversely, men continue to dominate the highest-level digital occupations, such as computer, engineering and management fields, as well as lower-digital occupations such as transportation, construction, natural resources, and building and grounds occupations.

What is its implication? Simple – high quality education. It is not easy to rapidly enhance the quality education from the inherited static and stagnant low quality education particularly in rural areas.

In sum, the current state of many spheres of economic activity is in a dismal state – due mainly on account of faulty policies and very poor implementation during the past 70 years. Any rapid breakthroughs, in retrospect, are a “Himalayan Challenge.”

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