It’s a role reversal that is quite unexpected. Metros have handed over their mantle of being employment havens to small towns, according to a Delhi government study.
The study by the Directorate of Statistics, Delhi government, on the basis of National Sample Survey Organisation’s surveys, raises the all-important question of whether employment avenues are closing down in metros. The probable answer is yes.
And while the metros stagnate, emerging metros and other million-plus cities are generating more employment as they have a more entrepreneur-friendly environment, says the study’s author Dr BK Sharma.
The employment rate of cities like Agra was poor compared to most metros in 1993. A decade down the line, in 2004, they have a better employment rate than the big cities. The reasons for this are many.
For one, many cities, like Bhopal, are providing self-employment, which in big cities like Delhi and Chennai has gone down. In Bhopal, 25 per cent of the workforce is self-employed. In Hyderabad, there has been a jump of 13 percentage points in self-employment since 1993.
Another reason is that women have a better chance of getting jobs in small towns than in cities. The employment rate of women in Jaipur, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kanpur has increased at a faster pace than for men.
The study says that employment in all metros except Mumbai has fallen between 1993 and 2004. For Delhi, it has gone down from 796 per 1,000 persons to 714, for Kolkata from 803 to 751. Mumbai has witnessed a marginal improvement from 773 to 786.
Ironically, the Directorate says the closure of polluting industries, on Supreme Court orders, is to blame for upsetting the growth tempo in Delhi. Dr Sharma, in a paper presented at an NSSO seminar on Monday with N.T. Krishna, says Delhi may not be able to sustain its present level of employment because of its aim to attain international city standards.
The study says the imbalance is a message to the government to strike when the iron is hot and strengthen infrastructure and law enforcement in smaller towns, which are growing at a much faster rate than anticipated.