The impact of the economic stimulus is yet to be seen, but one programme already seems to be paying dividends to the UPA. With the slowdown driving poor migrant workers back to their villages, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is gaining momentum.
Latest figures show a huge jump in households opting for work under NREGA. Keeping in lieu with revised estimates, which crossed Rs 30,000 crore in the present year, the budget announced Rs 30,100 crore for the aam admi flagship programme.
Even as the UPA brought out several social security schemes for the unorganised sector, the meltdown that saw lakhs of jobs evaporate painted a grim picture.
At the same time, the government’s efforts to bring in legislation to provide social security to 94 per cent of the workforce paid off.
The government had already launched programmes like the Aam Admi Bima Yojana and Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
But when it comes to employment, the trend is reflected in the government’s performance. With growth averaging close to 9 per cent and a need of at least 10 million skilled workers every year, the prime minister initiated a National Skill Development Mission under the aegis of a council chaired by him.
A non-profit corporation with a capital of Rs 15,000 crore was proposed to run the mission. The 2008-09 budget even allocated Rs 1,000 crore. So far, the mission has reached nowhere.
In the 2007-08 budget, the finance minister announced upgradation of 1,396 government Industrial Training Institutes. The outlay was Rs 3,665 crore. But the scheme is moving slowly, thanks to the disinterest of state governments.