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Azim Premji University researchers suggest universal basic service programme to generate jobs

India Today logo India Today 18-04-2019 Joe C Mathew
Azim Premji University researchers suggest universal basic service programme to generate jobs © India Today Group Azim Premji University researchers suggest universal basic service programme to generate jobs

Researchers associated with Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, have proposed the creation of a Universal Basic Services (UBS) programme, which will expand the current public system of delivering key services to create millions of new jobs in India.

The suggestions point out that just two public services - health and education - can create more than 2 million jobs, which is about 15 per cent of the current workforce in these sectors. The proposal has been made under the chapter 'Creating Good Jobs Through A Universal Basic Services Programme' in the 'State of Working India 2019' report, prepared by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the university.

Another component of the report looked at the job losses and estimated that India might have lost 50 lakh jobs between 2016 and 2018.

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"Regularising the employment of Anganwadi workers, accredited social health activists (ASHAs), helpers and other contractual employees in the public health and education system can create good jobs for another 3 million workers. There have been calls recently to increase the health budget from around 1 per cent to 3 per cent of GDP, and the education budget from 4 to 6 per cent of GDP. Our analysis strongly supports the need to make this commitment. It will make enough resources available to eliminate existing shortfalls, expand capacity and create decent jobs for millions of workers across the education and health spectrum," the report states.

The researchers point out that India needs to more than double its overall public spending on healthcare to catch up to comparable developing countries. If the vacant positions, as well as the shortfall in personnel and in health infrastructure, are filled, between 0.41-0.62 million jobs could be generated, they say. This constitutes around 8 to 12 per cent of the existing workforce in the health sector.

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Similarly, in 2016, there was a total shortfall of 0.9 million elementary teachers in government schools alone, a vacancy rate of approximately 18 per cent against all sanctioned posts. Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh had among the highest vacancy rates, together accounting for half the vacant posts in the country. "Ensuring all these posts are filled means creating almost a million additional jobs in the country. This is only for ensuring adequate teaching capacity at the primary level.  At the secondary level, too, there is a dearth of teachers. Available official statistics suggest that at the secondary level, there are 1,06,906 vacancies for secondary school teachers," it said.

The study also points out that the effects of an expansion in the health and education sectors would not be limited only to employment in these sectors. "As these sectors expand, the demand for inputs from other sectors that supply to these two sectors would also increase, thus increasing their output and hence employment. For example, health and education together account for 0.1 per cent of the output of the trade sector, but trade employs 48 million people. So, a 20 per cent increase in health and education output may proportionally generate 97,000 jobs. These effects would flow through the economy and the final effect on employment will be significantly larger than only on health and education," the study says.

The chapter was co-authored by Rosa Abraham, Anjana Thampi, Tejas Pande, and Amit Basole.

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