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Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Development

By H H Mohrmen

Now employment generation is a priority not only in the state of Meghalaya but for the nation too. It is only very recently that the NDA government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has woken  up to this very serious problem which is the need to create employment for the huge unemployed or semi-employed workforce in the country. It is rather unfortunate that in spite of a staggering number of unemployed youths in the country, the government does not have reliable statistics of such unemployed youth who are yet to be absorbed in the job market. The last time the country conducted a comprehensive estimation of employment situation in the entire nation was in 2012.

It was only recently that the NDA government setup a task force under Niti Aayog headed by its vice chairman Arvind Panagariya to look into this very important issue.  The mandate of the task force is to produce a periodic and a reliable nationwide data on employment in the whole country. Like Kumba Karna, the central government woke up to the gravity of the problem and this can be seen from the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) has even instructed all cabinet ministers to inform the PMO of the number of job that they can create every time they make new proposals to the government. Now the Statistic Ministry also has very recently made an announcement to conduct a periodic nationwide labour force survey and to compile the same and publish the employment data on a quarterly basis. So now everybody is waking up to the reality that to achieve an overall economic growth and development of the country; it is imperative that the country also takes onboard its 512 million strong work force.

The scenario in the country is such that this issue was kept in the back burner till very recently, but one cannot deny that at the state level it is a different story all together. Actually, in spite of not having reliable data at hand, the MUA government has made an attempt to address unemployment which is a very important factor of economic development in the state. The Integrated Basin Development & Livelihoods Project (IBDLP) which is the brain child of Dr Mukul Sangma was established with the express purpose of addressing this major problem by promoting entrepreneurship amongst the youths of the state. Of course one cannot expect that the Basin program can change the scenario overnight but the Basin intervention has made a lot of things happen at the ground level.

The success of this program can also be gauged from the fact that inter-departmental convergence is now possible and departments are working together to achieve the same goal. Although it took some time for this to happen but now there is no more competition amongst the department because they have accepted that the goal of all government effort is to reach out to the last man in the queue instead of competing among departments so  they can collaborate to achieve this goal.  

The program was designed such that the Deputy Commissioner is also the chairman of the District Basin Development Units (DBDU) which is the district unit of IBDLP, hence there’s a lot of convergence happening between departments. The convergence between the DRDA through MNREGS, the Tourism department and the DBDU, West Jaintia hills is one such case where the improvement work and re-modification of Thadlaskein Lake was made possible. The Pitcher plant lake at Jarain village under the Amlarem subdivision is another case in point where even the community made some contribution to the construction of the lake.

There is still a lot of misconception about the program that Basin is assumed to be just another department but in fact IBDLP is a program and unlike other government schemes, it is community driven and its main objective is to provide training to willing partners to enable them to improve on their livelihood activity. And yes they don’t call them beneficiaries anymore because the very fact that the willing public are called partners is to do away with the beneficiary mindset which has given rise to the attitude of grant-receiving that is prevailing amongst the common people of the state. 

The other idea made possible only by IBDLP is the community nurseries of tree saplings which is an attempt to produce community social entrepreneurs, because the community is allowed to sell the saplings to the government or the public. And the idea of raising native tree saplings and fruits trees in the community nurseries is a very good idea because trees endemic to the area have more chances to survive and it is good for the ecology too.  

In the West Jaintia Hills, the success of the many popular tourist spots is also because of the convergence that is happening be it Shnongpdeng, Darang or Krangshuri under the Amlarem subdivision or the development of Lum Tiniang under the Laskein development block.

The success of this program is evident from the outcome of the recent Chief Minister’s Entrepreneurs’ Conclave in which young entrepreneurs from the Khasi and Jaintia hills region of the state came to share their stories of success and failure and to learn from each other. There were a lot of partners who were trained and were able to improve their livelihood activities in the many districts of the state. Basin has also made it possible for partners to undergo training outside the state. The dairy partners were sent to Anand in Gujarat, Smoked-fish partners were sent to Karnataka. Innumerable numbers of partners are trained in piggery, beekeeping and other livestock activity are now actively engaged in their respective trades. Now those who are engaging is livestock rearing could also avail support for construction of sheds from MNREGS and if need be they are  even linked to the bank for loans. After undergoing training some of these partners have also been able to start an enterprise of their own.

The Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE) in an effort to bring together the entrepreneurs from across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills has recently organised a conclave to this affect. Addressing the conclave, Dr Sangma congratulated the successful entrepreneurs but he also questioned if the new enterprise was able to create any ancillary activities. Dr Sangma said that he wish to see that the entrepreneurs not only create employment for themselves and those working under them, but their activity should also open up avenues for others to start their own livelihood activities.      

Dr Sangma shared his idea of starting lay-bye markets on the entire stretch of the national highway wherever it is possible. This is another of Sangma’s brilliant idea because we have already seen these makeshift lay-bye markets on the national highway from Guwahati to Shillong or from Shillong to Jowai. The need of the hour is to improve the infrastructure of these lay-bye markets and maybe even add other important amenities like toilet facilities and even restaurants in the plan. Dr Sangma has foreseen that the only problem which could prevent this idea from becoming a reality is land because many people would not like to part with their land. 

Many people have expressed doubts about the IBDLP and questioned if the program would  continue if Dr Sangma is no longer the CM of the state. People predict that the IBDLP program will collapse the moment Dr Sangma or the Congress fails to form a government in the state. The way I see it is that IBDLP will remain not only because it is a program which deals with creating livelihood opportunities for the youth but it is well thought out program designed to address the needs that might arise with time. The program is designed in such a way that it could be a platform where foreign funding agencies can put their money and some international funding is already using the IBDPL program to implement their projects.  IBDLP can also act as a agency for the government to use corporate funding which comes in the form of CSR.

I write this article at the risk of being called pro- Mukul and pro- Congress which I am not. I support good and practical ideas which are for the betterment of the society no matter where it comes from. In this case I see IBDLP as a well thought of and well conceived program which could bring change to the people of the state.  

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