ACCESS Development Services has launched its annual flagship sector report titled “State of India’s Livelihoods Report (SOIL) ” which highlighted that India’s transition from agriculture towards informal and low-wage jobs in services. Launched by Mr. BB Swain, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Government of India, the report shares that the majority of the new jobs will be in large urban-industrial centres, however, there is a need to push the industry to provide better contractual arrangements which foster learning and progression in the company.
The report further sheds light on – “Where are the new jobs” and highlights that India has 63 million MSMEs employing close to 110 million workers, but the vast majority of these firms are ‘micro’ – investing less than 10 million, have a turnover of less than 50 million and hire less than 20 workers. Additionally, another 32% of the micro sector are firms that have only two or three workers and companies with four workers or above (up to 19) comprise only 6-7% of all firms, however, owing to constraints both in terms of policy and opportunities, it is unable to unleash its employment potential.
The report suggests that micro sectors need to be seen as the main engine of employment is to overcome spatial imbalance between rural and urban as well as the role of labour-intensive trades in local and craft-based markets.
Commenting on the current employment ecosystem, Dr Orlanda Ruthven, one of the authors’ of the report said “There is a widespread assumption that larger and ‘formal’ employers are better, from the viewpoint of entry-level workers seeking to learn on the job. This may have been the case when the only large firms in our midst were the public sector units and the blue-chip nation builders, but it is no longer the case. The proportion of casual- or TPA-hired workers in formal companies is growing. Which employers are fit to train youth is a question we need to ask and research.”
The report also speaks about the proliferation of technologies of employment witnessed in the last years and shares that digital applications used to manage personnel systems, to survey performance, to aggregate workers under TPAs for payroll and compliance purposes, and to render them gig workers in digital marketplaces are never neutral, and strongly reflect the interests of their designers. ACCESS has been publishing this report since 2009 and over time the report has become an important reference document for all stakeholders engaged in livelihoods promotion in India. It is the only document that aggregates the experiences and challenges of the sector, analyses case studies and reports on the progress of both the government-run and the privately-run programs.
In addition to this, the report also discusses in detail the overall scenario of the livelihoods of the poor and policy and programme interventions by the government to revive livelihoods. It also highlights the viability of the business case of women-led farmer producer organisations, policy and programme landscape of livelihoods in the past year, climate smart agriculture, the growing digitalization of agriculture along with the impact of amendments in CSR Act is reviewed. The SOIL report remains an authoritative piece on the issues emerging in the livelihoods sector. The report has been edited by Dr. Sanjiv Phansalkar and the contributing authors are Dr Orlanda Ruthven, Dr Ashok Kr. Sircar, Royston Braganza, PVS Suryakumar, Girija Srinivasan, Dr Sankar Datta, Dr Ajit Kanitkar, Isha Wadekar, Nimisha Katakee, Alka Talwar and Shankar Venkateswaran.