Wanted: An Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme That Also Ensures Ecological Balance

Researchers of Azim Premji University suggested a four-pronged approach, including increasing education and health spending and a new industrial policy to revive manufacturing.

Bengaluru: Researchers of Azim Premji University have recommended the implementation of an urban employment guarantee scheme, especially in smaller towns across the country, to bring down unemployment levels.

The team that presented the ‘State of Working India 2019’ report on Tuesday suggested a four-pronged approach to solve the job crisis in India.

These include having a universal basic services programme that calls for increasing education spending and health spending and a concerted new industrial policy to revive manufacturing, with a focus on labour-intensive sectors.

The report, which bats for an employment-oriented fiscal policy, also presented data on job creation and sustainable livelihood.

“We propose a detailed programme that provides for 100 days of work at Rs 500 a day for a variety of works… within town or city limits … and thereby provide services to all residents, build civic infrastructure and restore the urban commons,” said Amit Basole, associate professor at APU and lead author of the paper.

Though this may raise fears of greater migration to cities, some riders can be brought in like only residents of a city be made eligible, the professors suggested.

Professor Harini Nagendra said an employment scheme in the urban areas must also focus on restoring the ecological balance, so that better environment levels are achieved through the tasks assigned under this scheme, as this would have long-term spillover benefits, socially and economically.

“Developing public goods with public money through the public will have a huge impact… Specially in small towns, where the ecology is still intact, but could be lost because of the fast pace of development. Lakes, parks, wetlands – these should be the focus of where we give employment, ultimately ensuring that the effects of climate change are reduced,” she said.