Archive for October, 2015

Rural joblessness still a cause of concern in Odisha

Following report is from the Pioneer:

Saturday, 17 October 2015 | MANAS JENA | Bhubaneswar

The persistent disparity and deprivation in rural areas has led to spurt in unemployment, distress migration, farmer’s suicide and extreme poverty in many parts of Odisha.

The rural social culture is also changing very slowly and carrying the burden of old hegemonic control of feudal legacy. There has been huge inequality in access to productive resources such as land, education, credit and State sponsored opportunities, besides gap in income and limited sources of income. This inequality has been producing a number of issues in our rural, social and economic life. In order to generate employment in rural area, the various sectors of the State economy such as agriculture, industry and service should get balanced priority investment. Over and above, the employment policy should have a perspective for the rural poor and marginalized.

The Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011,published in 2015, says nearly three-fourth of households of the country are living in rural areas and 30.1 per cent of rural households depend on cultivation as their main source of income and employment. It is revealed that 51.14 per cent derive sustenance from manual casual labor while 56.25 per cent rural households own no agricultural land. The incidence of landlessness is highest among Dalits.

In case of Odisha, 54 per cent of rural households are without agricultural land. It is found that 75 per cent of the all rural households have an average monthly income below Rs 5,000, whereas only 9.68 per cent of rural households have salaried jobs that include jobs in Government, corporate and private sectors. Out of total about 21 lakh ST rural households, only 0.65 per cent of households are with salaried jobs and only 0.80 per cent of rural SC households are with salaried jobs.

The Directorate of Employment, Government of Odisha, says there were 2, 78,480 registrations made in 2013, whereas only 1,240 vacancies were notified. So the per cent of placement vis-à-vis registration was only 0.95. The total educated job seekers through employment exchange above matric were about 10 lakh in 2013.

The data shows that still rural Odisha continues with dependency on agriculture and manual casual labour with more than half of households without agricultural land, low income and without secured salaried employment. The Government, corporate and private sectors have not created enough employments and a very insignificant percentage of households depend on it especially from among the socially marginalized groups. The production relations in rural areas have not changed.

While private sector is using the land, water, forest, mineral, power, finance, capital and all other State sops, they ought to have a democratic employment policy that ensures diversity at work place but this is not happening.

About 70 per cent of cultivable land in Odisha is affected by either flood or drought every year in the absence of a sound water management system. It has impacted over agriculture production and rural seasonal employment with lower cropping intensity. A vast majority of rural people depends on manual casual labour but there has been experience of non-implementation of employment generating schemes by State Government in spite of provisions of schemes by Ministries. The MGNREGS being the largest job creation programme of the Government is limited to 100 days with huge irregularities. The private construction works available in rural areas are very casual in nature and do not follow any labor legislation intended for unorganized sector workers.

The provisions of minimum wage, equal wage for both men and women workers and social security measures are usually not followed by the employers in rural area.

It is seen that there is no crèche facilities for women workers in rural areas and almost all the workers have no health insurance against diseases, prolonged illness and during pregnancy. The women workers and workers of socially marginalized groups are more vulnerable in such distress situation. It has been encouraging child labour from poor and poverty stricken families for low paid causal work. The rigid caste and patriarchal structure and socially discriminatory practices restrict self employment of marginalized groups and women in the absence of approving social environment that encourages micro and small enterprises. The manufacturing sector of the State has not been improving which can generate employment for the surplus workers from agriculture. The contribution of manufacturing sector to State GDP is remaining insignificant. Mining and mineral based industries still are being continued as focus of the State Government. The rural infrastructure development projects are also not following labor intensive methods; rather they have been more capital intensive giving very limited scope of employment in rural area. The industrial development in the State has created jobless growth.

The mining and mineral-based industries have encouraged labour migration from neighboring States to emerging mining and industrial hubs of Odisha but the locals who have sacrificed land and livelihood and bear the brunt of pollution are not getting employment in their locality though there is provision to provide employment to the locals. The Government has no monitoring mechanism in the interest of the locals.

A number of State owned enterprises have been getting closed like jute mills, sugar mills, cotton mills, power looms, etc which have deprived thousands of rural poor of a salaried job in their locality. These industries were also quite helpful to agriculture as they purchased the agro products from the local farmers.

The increase in standard of living of farmers and agricultural workers will create demand for consumer goods and construction work in the locality. But unfortunately, the agriculture sector has not been promoted with State investment. The farmer cooperatives need to be promoted through farmer mobilization for productive and creative work among farmers. It has been observed that most of the farmer cooperatives are used for petty political power gain and grab the State resources in the name of agriculture development. Odisha’s consumer market has been captured by the neighbouring States with supply of food grains, vegetables, fish, egg, meat, and other consumer articles. A major part of the income of salaried groups in Odisha is spent on food items and goes to the pockets of the businessmen of other States.

The service sector in the State is in the process of getting privatized. The health, education, service delivery works of Government, such as mid day meal, welfare programmes for the vulnerable groups, housing and skill development are slowly being handed over to private parties in public private partnership mode or by following outsourcing methods with less State accountability. There is no clarity about employment policy or any good practice of labour legislation or affirmative action in such handing over process. A majority of private sector enterprises lack diversity in their work places and exclude the poor and marginalized in number of ways.

In order to minimize exclusion in labour market and to restrict the free play of market forces there must be protective and affirmative action for the marginalized groups in the employment policy of the State so that diversity and inclusive access to opportunities of employment can be ensured. This would reduce distress and insecurity of the marginalized in rural areas.

(The writer is a researcher and rights activist, who can be mailed at Mob -9437060797)


October 21, 2015 at 11:27 am 1 comment

Farmer suicide in western Odisha and the callous state

Saket Sreebhushan Sahu

Suicides reports of fourteen farmers from Western Odisha within a fortnight have gripped the whole region in shock and grief. Politician donot bothered about it because it is not an election time. Neither had we heard any sympathetic words from the agriculture minister in any media.

The culture, economy and society of Western Odisha have evolved by build-up with a cohesive bonding affiliating to agriculture since time immemorial. Western Odisha is based on an agrarian economy. If harvesting of crop is good, farming community thinks about marriages in the family. If crop harvesting is not as per expectation, they postponed marriages. All the major festivals like Nuankhai and Phuspuni are agrarian. While Nuankhai is the festival of first crop cutting and offering it to the God/Godess, Phuspuni is the harvesting festival. Today, Nuankhai is celebrated even in foreign countries and major metros of India by the non-residents. But the man behind the Nuankhai and Phuspuni festival, the farmers, is living in an unspeakable pathos and insurmountable grief.

The state government has all kind of schemes for all categories of people but none are in use; all government schemes are as if meant for the thekadar and chamcha of the ruling political party.

The Government collects huge revenue from this region, almost 75 per cent. But never works for the tax payer. The farming community who filled the state treasury is abandoned like anything. Farmers are deprived of their basic rights. They are neglected. If a state is not meant for its subjects then the subjects have to introspect about the state. Time has arrived.

Author Comments on Politics and Culture. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

October 21, 2015 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

Kosalis voice fear in Odia heartland

Following is a report from the TNIE:

October 2, 2015 at 4:42 am Leave a comment

Reawakening Kosali and Coastal Conspiracy

Saket Sreebhushan Sahu

Kosali language as a separate language, and recognising its relevance and identity are opposed by coastal Odisha intellectuals. They are vehemently arguing about unilateral linguistic character of Odisha. Odisha is multi-lingual state, with two major languages, Odia and Kosali, and Odisha should provide education through the languages prevalent in the state. In a hypocritical step the Odisha government is providing instruction in elementary education through some of the Adivasi languages of the state. But it is mere a political gimmick to lure sympathy of Adivasi and their votes. In the Binjhal caste affluent Bargarh district, the state government has appointed 28 Binjhal language teachers; it is true, at a time Binjhal language was existing, but many a generations have passed and Binjhal tribes have adopted the mainstream Kosali language of the region; but no Binjhal language exists now.
When vigorous movement demanding recommendation of Kosali language is going on, to pacify the agitation tactically, the government t wrote letter to the centre government but to show-off the common folks and brutally made blunders, misrepresented about Kosali to the centre. The committee chaired by an Odia poet played with the sentiments of 2 crore Kosalis. The Coastal lobbies in a deliberate conspiracy with the full support of state machineries lauded with funds and power, one-by-one, step-by-step, hatch to butcher the Kosali movement; felicitated Kosalis poets as Odia poet, employed writers groups to Christianized Kosali to Odia, funded pro-Kosali organizations to hold Odia meetings, hired activist from Kosal region to stage fast unto death dharna and what not?

As to why Odisha government is reticent in recognition of Kosali as a language in its own right is beyond me. This as you can imagine has caused severe bitterness in Kosal or Western Odisha region.
As you know when in 1993 High level Commission was established, Indian government specifically asked the commission to exclude Bodo from deliberation because it had already promised Bodo people that Bodo would be included in the 8th schedule to quell the agitation of the students of the area. In the words of the Parliamentary committee, however, in the light of the Bodo Accord signed between the Government of India on the one hand and All Bodo Students Union and Bodo People’s Action Committee on the other on 20 February, 1993, the Government decided to delink the matter of inclusion of Bodo language in the Eighth Schedule from the issue of setting up of High Powered Body for evolving criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule. Eventually Bodo along with Maithili, Dogri and Santhali were included in the 8th schedule. So what one expects the Kosalis to do ? Become militant ? Violent ? Rasta Roko, Rail Roko? Learn a few pointers from Naxalites ? Is that the only way ? In what way, claims of these languages are any better than Kosali ? Is not the government indirectly encouraging Kosalis to go the way Bodo people took?

So far Kosalis are going through all the civil channels, such as, writing memorandums, providing documents of authenticity of our claim, producing literature, making movies, conducting seminars, engaging in debates, launching newspapers and periodicals, presenting about Kosali at national platforms and everything imaginable but to no effect.
As it stands now, aggressive Odianisation with a missionary zeal has resulted in putting huge part of population in a disadvantage in education and consequent huge drop-out rate in schools. Many states have more than one recognised language, and such measure enhances the cultural mix because of mutual respect between the language groups. Behind the opposition to recognition of Kosali, there is an oft repeated assertion that Kosali is nothing but a dialect of Odia. This is patently not true, and worse, it is paternalistic. Most coastal Odishans can’t speak Kosali, nor are they familiar with any Kosali literature. They are much more familiar with Bengali in northern coastal area and with Telegu in southern area. So why this pretence? Why not celebrate the linguistic diversity in Odisha instead ?

Author Comments on Politics and Culture. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.

October 2, 2015 at 4:33 am 1 comment



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