Employment Down, Production Up In Khadi Industry

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  • A major chunk, 3.2 lakh out of the drop of 6.8 lakh jobs, was in the central zone comprising Uttarakhand, UP, Chhattisgarh and MP.
  • Nearly 1.2 lakh jobs were lost in the east zone that includes Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar.

Data recently provided by the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to the Lok Sabha shows that the number of people employed in the khadi sector fell from 11.6 lakh to 4.6 lakh between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Are people working in khadi industries leaving their jobs in droves? The official figures seem to suggest so. A closer look suggests that at least some of this may be just records getting cleaned up. But how much is due to this factor and how many jobs have been lost to modernisation is not clear.

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Interestingly, the years during which the jobs plummeted – 2015-16 to 2016-17 – the production of khadi increased by 31.6% and sales grew 33%. According to the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), the employment numbers till 2015-16 did not reflect the true picture because while new job creations were being added, the figures on people leaving the sector were not being updated. The KVIC also accepts that introduction of new model charkhas to replace the traditional single spindle ones could be the cause of some job loss. "Most spinners were working on single spindle traditional charkhas earlier which are more employment intensive. With the adoption of new model charkhas many old artisans have exited," states the commission's annual report. However, neither the ministry nor the commission have spelt out how much of the drop in jobs is due to this factor.

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A major chunk, 3.2 lakh out of the drop of 6.8 lakh jobs, was in the central zone comprising Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Nearly 1.2 lakh jobs were lost in the east zone that includes Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha and Andaman and Nicobar. Employment generation under the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) also appears to be on the decline in 2017-18. According to the data, about 3.2 lakh people were employed under the programme in 2015-16, which rose to 4.1 lakh in 2016-17. However, in the first ten months of 2017-18, only 2.5 lakh people were added. The number of projects assisted under PMEGP also seem to be declining with 31,000-odd in April-January of the current financial year against nearly 53,000 in 2016-17. PMEGP is a credit linked subsidy scheme, for setting up new micro-enterprises and generate employment opportunities in rural and urban areas.               

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