[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]O[/dropcap]n a recent family vacation to the absolutely stunning Club Mahindra property at Virajpet in Coorg, I got to know a little more about the Coorgi culture and way of living. Anyone familiar with the Coorgies should know that General Cariappa, General Thimayya; Hockey players Arjun Halappa, Len Aiyappa; Coorgi food and hospitality and Coorg coffee. I have always been intrigued by the beautiful Coorgi women, tough and handsome Coorgi men and their national service to the armed forces. Infact a Coorgi saying is “A Coorgi boy is born with a gun in one hand and Hockey stick in the other”. Coorgis are also farmers who cultivate coffee.
At the checkout counter of the resort, I saw a few local Coorgies working as staff and asked them why is it that they sought to work in the resort than taking care of the dying coffee plants. “Your Sonia Gandhi has ruined it for the small Coorg-coffee estate farmers with her freebies” came a reply from another guest at the hotel who happened to hear my question to the staff.
This got me thinking about NREGA schemes of the Congress for vote bank, massive wastage of National Wealth, destruction of India’s agricultural produce and worst of all desperate urbanization of wet agricultural land to pave way for more resorts or manufacturing plants producing products and garbage.
I reached my apartment in Bangalore by Monday evening after a four day three night stay away from the Urban mess and on arrival was welcomed by “Salam Sir” by this twenty something, 12th pass Assamese boy working as my security guard in my apartment complex. That evening, Veena the maid rang my doorbell and I got thinking about her future and prospects for her children.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]his little essay by me summarises my thoughts about semi skilled and unskilled labour in India, technical education to created semi skilled and skilled task force, mitigating the need for unskilled immigration, organization of the massively unorganised sector, making urban residents wean-off every Indian wife’s best friend the “Kaamwali Bai” and empowering the underprivileged make a generation of progress. This massive workforce, using Skill India, can be quickly trained to address the needs of the 100 Smart Cities to be built.
Below are some of my thoughts that I have compiled over a period of time and is my attempt at finding social engineering problems that face India now and can hound us in the future. I do not have solutions to everything and am very open to practical corrections to my solutions. It is just that I cannot be bogged down by “Paralysis-Analysis” and wish that Modiji and BJP do their part to help build Skill India.
NREGA solution for Farm owners
I have been a huge opponent of creating “employment for the heck of it” that creates vote banks out freebies issued to the unskilled people and giving them a sense of entitlement. This is exactly what make big Government expenditure and encourages people to remain unskilled. All this is made worse by the dispensation of money and the corruption by the layers between the Government and the babus.
NREGA is such a mess that was introduced that no Government can back off from. It is a Gift of burden by the Congress to the earnest Taxpayer in India and can be so for the coming generations. NREGA is also vote bank and from the last budget by PM Shri Narendra Modi it was evident that this is one thing that cannot be touched.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t got me thinking after the Coorg experience that why can’t NREGA be used to get unskilled workers from Odisha, North East and Bihar to pluck the coffee seeds? There needs to be private-public partnership that helps enable the same. While the private parties pay what they can to the workers, the excess can be paid by the Government as per laws governing minimum wage and perhaps for the first year, the Government could write off the excess paid and then for the following years, make these private farm owners foot the bill better for the labour force. This way the money supply allocated for NREGA could be used better causes in a win-win situation and also help reduce the rate of outflow for NREGA funds thereby reaching more people.
In return, the Government can mandate a minimum living standard for the worker and his family with Mobile Schools for formal education for the worker’s kids provided for collectively by the many private farm owners in Coorg.
The “Kamwali Bai” House maid issue
Having lived a good part of my life in the US, my family was used to “Apna Haath Jagannath”. My wife and I did the dishes aided by a good dishwasher. We did our Laundry and Ironing. My task over the weekend was cut out. I had to clean the backyard, trim the plants, vacuum the carpets in the house, collect all garbage, sort out bills, review our financial status, finish the coursera course & take my kids to Taekwondo class. In a sense we were all Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras packed in one. This in my opinion should be the new Hindu but I will comment on that another day.
If Bangalore had no power outage issues with adequate supply in each household, I would be doing my own dishes in the dishwasher. That would make the “Kamwali Bai” redundant to a large extent. However, if we as Indians could time the event where the last few house maids are left and Electricity was ubiquitous, we would have not only helped the last few generations of house maids’ families get educated and get jobs or start small enterprises, but we would be weaned-off this dependence on this human to come home and clean it. While my maid is well taken care of and my family donates to schools where her kids study with books, computers, pens etc, does anyone have a clue of when will we get rid of this dependence? What is the rate of supply of these people out there? Can anyone justify that a house of six that Veena lives in can make ends meet in Rs. 20,000.00 ($300) per month?
Contrary to what is posted by left liberals, fiscally right leaning folk like me care about this workforce and want to find a long term economically lasting solution to this problem. Some level of Gratuity and Provident Fund must be started for these folks to be able to retire early. Skilled training in cooking and sewing can also be given to these women to become independent over a period of time.
The “12th pass” watchman who solutes me each day is the grossest waste of human talent of Indian youth. The 20 something fellow makes no more than Rs 7000 ($110) per month in hand, has no prospects, works 12 hour shifts on normal days and 24 hour shifts when the shift changes. This is the story across all apartments and security agencies that I know of in Bengaluru. These boys are squeezed in terms of work hours which are non productive and against International Labour Standards. With such high monthly maintenance per apartment, apartment complexes are forced to go for cheap security agencies.
If the Government could reduce income taxes of those living in apartment complexes but yet enforce labour standards for the watchman work hours, apartment dwellers will be willing to pay more for security agencies. This is where the world’s greatest Non-Government Organization (NGO) that is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) should work with the Government to play a major role. If RSS can spawn off these security agencies with evening courses for these youth by providing skilled training like in plumbing, carpentry, construction, training for electricians and elementary business and money management as part of an ITI course work, Modi Ji’s Skill India will become a boon for the 100 smart cities that this Government plans to make. RSS also imbibes good discipline and character in individuals which could minimize the incidents of child molestation by the watchmen that we hear of.
There is a lot of Social Engineering and standard setting that can be done for the above mentioned class of people as well as construction workers and farm workers to help their next generation catch up with the rest. The opportunity that India has to improve and grow under the Modi-Government is tremendous and I sincerely wish that Narendra Modi pushes for such social engineering ideas well supported by Thinkers and Doers of RSS.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 66.52 Rupees.
Vijay has a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from Mumbai University & an MS in Computer Science from UC Santa Barbara with a post graduate certification in Data Mining from UC San Diego.
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