Can start up India projects solve jobless growth issue?

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N. S. Venkataraman

Day in and day out, Modi government has been claiming that India is now one of the fast growing economies in the world and cites several reports by international agencies in support of its claim. While the statistics are impressive, there is a huge concern in the country, especially among the youth and the underprivileged section of society that job opportunities have not increased for them, and they are not part of the growth story of India.

The gap in the disparity of income is steadily increasing, and the economic and industrial growth is not generating jobs to the level of need. While the production figures and annual sale turnover of the enterprises in the different sector have increased, the growth in employment level in them are showing declining trend. The production increase and profitability increase are happening due to factors of technology, automation, and computerization, which mean that the number of hands needed becomes less.

This scenario is now the biggest challenge before the Modi government. It has to find some way to ensure that the growth in the economy would move in tandem with the employment generation at various levels.

Obviously, Prime Minister Modi is conscious of this undercurrent of anxiety amongst the people.

Keeping this need in view, Modi government has launched schemes such as Startup India, Make in India, hoping that it would lead to building enormous enthusiasm amongst the first generation entrepreneurs, promote many employment opportunities and result in massive growth at the base level.

It has also taken extraordinary measures to develop skill amongst the people. But, such steps are not yielding the expected results and it does not look that positive results would happen too soon.

In a vast country like India with a steady increase in population growth at an alarming level, it is just not possible for the government and organized sector to generate adequate employment opportunities for the rapidly growing youth population.

The only way is to promote a large number of tiny and small scale enterprises which need not invest much in technology and automation and would generate employment opportunities in a big way. With Start Up India projects, thousands of such tiny and small scale enterprises are required to be promoted all over India, particularly in small towns and rural areas.

When large enterprises are set up, they are supposed to lead to the setting up of many ancillary and small scale industrial units and service oriented organizations around them, stroking chain of developments, industrial/economic activities, and employment. But, this is not happening, as the need of such large enterprises is increasingly being met by import rather than from the domestic small and tiny scale units.

Obviously, there is a lack of adequate level of skill amongst the small-scale entrepreneurs to set up projects in tune with the global standards and the need for the large sector. However, it should be made possible for the small and tiny scale units set up under Start up India projects to meet such needs.

At the same time, it needs to be pointed out that several road blocks still exist for the tiny and small-scale units, where the Startup India projects are expected to be set up to meet the needs. This is a serious issue that Modi government has to attend urgently.

The fact is that Modi government has largely played its role and the role of the state governments and local bodies are critical to ensuring that Start Up India projects are facilitated to operate without hurdles. On the other hand, the level of nepotism and corruption in the government machinery at the state government level and local bodies lead to delays and harassment of the small scale units.

 The Start up India entrepreneurs should also introspect about their shortcomings and how to overcome the problems instead of complaining about the various external factors.

 There are challenges and opportunities facing the Start up India projects, and it remains to be seen whether youth of India would overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities to meet the expectations of the nation from the Start up India entrepreneurs.