Rural and Urban Unemployment in India

Who is unemployed?

An individual, who is ready and willing to work at the prevailing rate of wages but does not find the work, is considered to be unemployed. It is important here to mention that the persons, who voluntarily remain unemployed: living on alms or spending a parasitic life, cannot be treated as unemployed. It may be the case that a person may be willing to work but is not able to work due to his mental or physical constraints; in this case also that person cannot be termed as unemployed. The problem of unemployment among educated persons in India has touched an alarming point.

Take a note that when one talks of unemployed persons one is referring only to those who are in the age group of 15-60 years.

Classification of Unemployment in India

Unemployment in India can be classified broadly into two types:

Rural Unemployment

About 58.7 percent of labourers, in Indian villages, are engaged in primary sector. Most of them are engaged in non-farm sector. Those rural labourers work in cottage industries as iron-Smiths, carpenters, etc. and in different kinds of services.

It has been estimated that more than two-third of the rural workers are self-employed and just one third of them work for others. Problem of involuntary unemployment can further be divided into disguised and seasonal unemployment, which are of alarming proportions in rural areas.

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What is Disguised Unemployment

Disguised suggests a situation in which the number of workers engaged a job becomes much more than is actually required to complete it. Simply put, if some of the workers are removed from the job, the total production will not decrease. These disguised employees are not needed and thus superfluous.

Due to the joint family system that is still prevailing in the rural areas and lack of alternative avenues of employment, all members of the farmer’s family keep themselves engaged in the cultivation of family farm. Even if some members are withdrawn from the work, the total production of the family farm will remain unaffected.Thus those members will be considered as the victim of disguised has become a grave problem in rural India.

What is seasonal unemployment

Seasonal unemployment happens because agriculture, in India, is basically a seasonal occupation. The workers, during the off-season, often remain out of job. The volume of seasonal unemployment proportionally depends on the conditions and methods of cultivation in different parts of the country. It is a horrifying fact to know, as it has been estimated, that a farmer who cultivates one crop in a year usually goes without a job for almost 5 to 7 months.

Besides agriculture, in rural areas, there are various other activities such as sugarcane crushing, brick kilns, etc in which workers remain engaged for a few months and for the rest of the period (of the year) they remain unemployed.

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Urban employment

Unemployed persons, in urban areas, are quite often registered with employment exchanges. It is so the urban employment, unlike disguised unemployment of rural areas, is more like an open unemployment.

The number of registered unemployed, between 1961 and 2008, has soared up more than eight-fold. Unemployment in urban areas can further be separated into two broad categories:

Industrial Unemployment

This sort of unemployment envelops the persons, who are willing and able to work in industries, mining, transport, trade and construction activities but do not find the job. The problem of unemployment in industrial sector has increased many fold because of a rapid rise in population. Besides this, the trend of migrating to urban areas, mainly due to the expansion of industries in urban areas, in search of jobs has compounded the problem of unemployment in the industrial sector. So it can be claimed that industrial unemployment happens as a spillover of rural unemployment.

The second major cause for this problem is that industries in India are increasing rapidly and they are emulating the use of labour-saving western technology, thus, in the process, limiting the absorption capacity of the industrial sector.

Educated Unemployment

The problem among educated persons in India has touched an alarming point as it has spread across all parts of the country indicating a serious threat to social peace and harmony. Major factors contributing to educated unemployment are:

  • It has been recorded that the number of educated persons has increased substantially due to the expansion of educational institutions such as universities, college and schools.
  • It is important to take note of the fact that quite often degree holders fail to acquire a job, because the education system in India is not job-oriented; it is rather degree-oriented.
  • Enhancement in employment opportunities has lagged behind in comparison with the enhancement in the volume of educated labour force. It is obvious from the fact that in recent years the number of educated unemployed registered with employment exchanges has shown the tendency of swelling up.

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