This is a significant change from the past. For the first time in the last decades, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) spoke about the livelihood issues, jobs and livelihoods of millions of people.
At the recent pratinidhi sabha, equivalent of its national council, RSS passed a comprehensive resolution on creating new work opportunities for a vast population of Indians after Covid-19, given the rosy slip-ups and layoffs that marked two years of the pandemic.
In a way, the Hindutva-centric Sangh Parivar recognizes the enormity of the challenges posed by Covid-19, especially against the backdrop of the huge economic restructuring taking place in the country.
The resolution adopted by RSS along with its leader Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary of sarkaryavah ala Dattatreya Hosabale under the presidency of Karnavati in Gujarat is timely and a reminder of the Herculean task ahead.
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Through this comprehensive document, RSS made two important points. It was recommended that local and sustainable solutions be found to absorb the ever-expanding human resource base, with ambitious young people making up the bulk.
The second major point raised by the Sangh was to develop an alternative economic model centered on Bharatiya India that pushes for self-sufficiency in all sectors, including agriculture, exports, industry and services.
The RSS articulation came against the backdrop of data released by the Narendra Modi government which indicates a slight increase in the unemployment rate to double digits during the Covid-19 years and the aftermath.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released on Monday indicate a 12.6% growth in the unemployment rate in April-June 2021 in urban areas among people over the age of 15. This unemployment rate is well above the 9.3% recorded in the previous quarter.
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Although the April-June 2021 unemployment figures are well below 20.6% in the same months of the previous year, policymakers cannot afford to ignore the enormity of the jobs problem. or rising unemployment rates.
These numbers are for urban areas only, and rural unemployment can present a different set of challenges, ranging from meager to delayed or deferred daily wages, in addition to rampant corruption in several states.
Sangh’s recommendation on India’s economic model centers on rural India, agriculture, micro, small and medium enterprises, handicrafts, food processing and household businesses which are predominantly labor intensive. work.
At the same time, RSS has thrown its weight behind the ecosystem of start-ups, innovations and new-age technologies that define India’s modern and vibrant economy.
Well, Parivar organizations like Swadeshi Jagaran Manch may have been pushing to reorient the economic policy paradigm to reflect Indian realities with an emphasis on ‘swadeshi’ and ‘self-reliance’.
These proven socio-economic strategies were incorporated by RSS through its resolution at its March 11-13 conclave.
Reducing dependence on imports of goods and services, coupled with concrete plans to boost exports, has been recommended by RSS as a way to create trade-related manufacturing jobs along the supply chain. value. It also means that Sangh underscores the need for India to capture more than 5% of global trade in goods and services.
In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, self-reliance and minimal dependence on imports makes sense given the kind of economic isolation Moscow is currently experiencing from American and European powers. .
A great example in the context of Russia amplifies the aggressive self-sufficiency campaign that India will have to embark on. When master card and visa services were withdrawn by US-based financial giants, the Russians had to fend for themselves as payment gateways were shut down by NATO allies. The “Mir” payment gateway set up by Russia could hardly meet all the service needs of its citizens inside and outside the country.
In fact, this experience in conflict situations should propel the innovation and national electronic financial services solutions that many banking experts have recommended. In the Indian context, however, the UPI (United Payments Interface) is an evolved platform vis-a-vis Mir that had to piggyback on Chinese payment platforms to restore services to distraught Russians.
The RSS push on Bharatiya’s economic model which is human-centric, labor-intensive and environmentally friendly would open space for alternative medium- and long-term policy-making strategies. .
Another Sangh recommendation on decentralization and equitable distribution of benefits that increase village economy, micro, small and agro-industries would result in strengthening India’s federal character.
As states run by different political parties seek more political space and freedom, the RSS recommendation goes even further to achieve grassroots economic and development freedom in partnership with local communities.
This means that a radical shift in economic and development policy will have to be attempted away from the urbanized and New Delhi-centric approach. This is bound to result in greater inclusion and expanded coverage of India’s growth story.
The development model described by Sangh revolves around wise and sustainable use of abundant natural resources, vast skilled and unskilled human force, in addition to harnessing inherent entrepreneurial skills to transform the sectors of the agriculture, manufacturing and services. This approach has the potential to create many opportunities for productive work and to transform the basic economic character.
Recognizing the “protective role” of different societal actors during pandemic situations, especially to generate work opportunities, diverts attention from the government which is generally considered the lone warrior.
The successful rural models reported in the hinterland following the migration of day laborers amid the first wave of Covid appear to have prompted RSS to look more seriously at localized job creation models.
The adoption of new technologies and the appropriation of new skills have been linked to rural employability, unorganized sector jobs, women and their overall participation in the economy, which has been highlighted by RSS.
Bring in entrepreneurs, businessmen, microfinance institutions, self-help groups, voluntary organizations as key players to produce and market high added value products, involve cooperatives as the fourth pillar, marketing direct local products and skills development seem to be at the heart of the RSS prescription.
Sangh’s thinking on economic and development issues breathes new life into a jaded Western model that has lost relevance and communist oligarchs dictate the state policy China is experimenting with.
(The author is Director and Managing Director of the New Delhi-based Center for Integrated and Holistic Studies think tank)