The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government may have been harping on social welfare interventions and claiming to have ushered in change,particularly with its rural employment generation programmes but data shows these schemes failed to significantly curb unemployment in rural areas.
According to NSSO data on unemployment made available by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in reply to a Parliament question this week,the unemployment rate in rural areas for both males and females in the productive age group of 15-29 went up between 2004-05 and 2009-10.
While for men,it went up from 3.9 percent to 4.7 percent,the rise for women was less steep,4.2 percent to 4.6 percent. The overall youth unemployment rate in rural areas for the same period went up from 4 percent to 4.7 percent. The Congress-led UPA introduced its flagship Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in February 2006,significantly responsible for bringing the Congress back to power in 2009.
The scheme promises 100 days of work every year and targets unskilled workers.
Male unemployment in rural areas in the not literate category went up from 1.3 percent to 2.2 percent between 2004-05 and 2009-10. Female unemployment in this category went down from 0.6 percent to nil. The Act mandates that at least 33 percent workers should be women. The scheme in the governments second tenure was rather lack-lustre with person days of employment generated going down from 283.59 crore in 2009-10 to 228.16 crore in 2012-13. In her speech in the Lok Sabha on Monday defending the Food Security Bill,Congress president Sonia Gandhi flaunted the right to work as one of the five rights the UPA had given to people over the last nine years.
Among states,rural unemployment rate for youth between 2004-05 and 2009-10 increased significantly in Assam (6.8 percent to 11.3 percent),Jharkhand (3.7 to 12.3 percent),Bihar (4.3 to 6.2 percent) and Uttar Pradesh (1.5 to 3.1
percent),Tamil Nadu (3.5 to 5.8 percent) as well as in North-Eastern states.