In a first sign of inter-ministerial squabble, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to carve out a separate department for skill development and entrepreneurship is facing stiff resistance from ministries who will see a major chunk of their funds disappear if the plan is approved.
Skill development is a massive government programme with annual allocation of about Rs. 5,000 crore. The funds and the work are spread over 11 ministries including HRD, labour and rural development that often end up working at cross purposes.
The Modi government wants to put all skill development schemes under a new wing of the youth and sports affairs ministry. “No communication from the Cabinet secretariat has come in this regard,” a senior government official told HT. The secretariat decides on allocation of work to ministries on directions of the PMO.
The common refrain of the ministries is that taking away skill development from them would not work unless the state governments also implemented a similar single window mechanism. The states, like the Centre, also implement skill development programmes through different departments.
A labour ministry said that taking away labour training would result in the ministry losing its “core function”.
“We have created a framework through state labour departments to ensure that those trained in the industrial training institutes get employment,” a ministry official, requesting anonymity, said.
The HRD does similar work. “Vocational education is run by educational institutions and managed by All India Council for Technical Education. I don’t understand how the youth affairs ministry would be able to issue directions to educational institutions,” said a HRD ministry official.
Most of them also admitted that losing job oriented skill programmes would result in major reduction in their annual budgets with ministries of rural development and labour bearing the maximum brunt.
The rural development (RD) ministry got Rs. 1,400 crore in the last budget for its skill programme Aajeevika, which is run by district RD officers by enrolling self-help groups. “Close to a million self-help groups are part of the programme,” an RD ministry official said. It also has specialized schemes for unemployed youth in J-K and Maoist-hit areas. The urban development ministry runs similar programmes in the cities and was allocated Rs. 100 crore.
UPA-2, near the end of its tenure, had put the finance ministry in charge of coordinating with all ministries on skill development via the national skill development agency. It had set a target to train 11 million youth in 2014-15 and 500 million youth by 2020.