Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Arjun Sengupta is no more

Arjun Sengupta is no more. He was the famous economist who showed to the world that India is a poor country. A country where a staggering 394.6 million workers (86 per cent of the working population) belong to the unorganised sector and work under “utterly deplorable” conditions with “extremely few livelihood options.” A country where an overwhelming 79 per cent of workers in the unorganised sector live with an income of less than Rs. 20 a day.

He was the one who chaired the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS). This commission released its report in 2007. And the findings were shocking indeed. But they failed to stir the conscience of the top echelons of this great country.

The following are some of the startling findings of the report.

  • According to the report 88 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes, 80 per cent of the Other Backward Classes and 85 per cent of Muslims belong to the category of “poor and vulnerable,” who earn less than Rs. 20 a day.
  • In 2004-05, a total of 836 million (77 per cent) had an income below Rs. 20 a day.
  • Households of the small and marginal farmers account for 84 per cent and are forced to spend more than they earn and are under debt, while 90 per cent of agricultural labour households are landless or have less than one hectare of holding.
  • The conditions in the non-agricultural sectors are no better with 21 to 46 per cent of men and 57 to 83 per cent of women being employed as casual workers, who get less than minimum wages.
  • As per the survey, the latest trends indicate that agriculture is getting feminised with 73 per cent women being associated with it compared to 52 per cent men.

The NCEUS attributes the plight of the unorganised workers to a lack of comprehensive and appropriate legislation and the absence of targeted programmes.

Where laws exist, the Commission finds their implementation inadequate. Also, they are seldom focussed on unorganised workers.
Releasing the report, NCEUS Chairman Arjun Sengupta had said the panel had recommended a Rs. 45,000-crore action plan for the overall improvement of the unorganised sector.
What happened to its recommendation? Whether the action plan was taken seriously? Nobody knows. Nobody cares.

The nation has far more serious issues at hand. CWG games tops the list.

More here, here and here. Download the pdf version of the full report here.

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