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Labour shortage: How can inclusive growth in Odisha prevent large-scale out-migration

By Sudhansu R Das 

The State of Odisha has huge natural resources: a vibrant river network, coastline running over 450 km with coconut, cashew, areca nut and palm plantation on its coast. Wild life, cattle population, exotic tourist and pilgrim destinations etc., add muscles to the economy of Odisha.
The State can graduate from exclusive growth to inclusive growth if it develops the capacity to conceive original State specific development concepts. In fact, the development initiatives will not create inclusive employment opportunities in the state but the quality implementation of development works will increase the productivity hours of people which will increase the quality of life.
But for the quality implementation of different programs and development projects, a State needs quality human resources who can show commitment, a sense of belongingness to the State, to its people and its culture.
In spite of having so much potential for employment in different sectors, the State witnesses large-scale migration of young people from villages and towns to cities across the country. The State needs to create employment and prevent migration. The migration of educated, skilled, unskilled, semi-skilled and illiterate young work force to other States creates shortage of quality manpower in every sector.
There is an acute labour crisis in the agriculture sector which has made farming difficult. Free food, freebies and subsidies dissuade labourers from physical work; it also leads to the loss of entrepreneurship among people and creates many social problems. People have land and money to invest but they don’t get labor to work in the field. The majority of the ageing farmers feel that they are the last generation of farmers.
Thousands of farmers on the bank of the river Nua Nai in Puri district used to grow rice, vegetables and fruits; they used to catch a variety of sweet water fish from the Nua Nai which flows into the Bay of Bengal. The State government is dredging the Nua Nai to join it with the Bhargavi river with the objective of saving the paddy field from flood.
There are other means to check floods; understanding the root causes of floods is very important. Unfortunately, the dredging has filled the river with salt water from the sea; it has created acute drinking water shortage in the region and has adversely affected the agriculture production.
The sweet water fish from the Nua Nai have almost disappeared. There is a need to understand nature's engineering marvel which sustains lives and livelihood. The farmers in the region say if they get water for irrigation, they can happily grow two crops in a year.
There is an urgent need for dedicated research to know the root cause of the deteriorating art and craft traditions in the State. The State needs to replace the inefficient officials with honest and genuine handicraft experts for craft development. The tendency to create hype with the help of social media, photographs, seminars, powerpoint presentations and flowery speeches should be curbed; this rot in the form of gloss is spreading fast.
The economy of scale in art objects does not click. It is the quality, grace and artistry in handicraft and handloom products which sustains the demand in domestic and international markets. Besides, transparent marketing facilities should be created right from the purchase of yarn to the finished products.
The State has a vibrant pilgrim sector which can generate employment and boost the unorganized sector. Many ancient temples in the State are in a neglected State; the ancient architecture, sculptures, pristine look, the fine carvings and the spiritual aura around the temple should be preserved.
The Odisha government has developed good roads to the pilgrim destinations but the State has to do a lot in order to keep the temple surroundings free from unsocial activities which begin late at night. Special police force should be raised to curb unsocial activities around the ancient temples.
Migration of educated, skilled and unskilled young work force to other States creates shortage of quality manpower in every sector
There are contractors who mint money by selling arna prasad in some temples of Cuttack. Those contractors dump the leftover food, plates and plastic glasses outside the temples. Cuttack municipality should strictly advise those contractors to install their own bio-gas plant to dispose of the garbage.
Good roads free from encroachment, electric rickshaws, battery operated mini buses, vending zones, closed drains and cleanliness will create employment for local people in Cuttack city. The municipality, strong willed politicians, NGOs and the educated professionals of the city should educate residents how to keep the city clean.
Instead of delivering speeches in the seminars and meetings, they should move from ward to ward and make people aware of the importance of cleanliness. Hundreds of people die in the city due to kidney infection as they urinate in municipality drains regularly.
Out of 59 wards in Cuttack, not a single ward has closed drains. Cuttack municipality should showcase at least five wards with closed drains and good roads. Though the municipality puts cement slabs on the drains in a few wards, they keep gaps in between slabs which let plastic and garbage into the drains creating more problems than before.
The officials of the Cuttack municipality should not sit in their office, they should move from ward to ward on foot for monitoring the work. The historic municipality pond and the public park just opposite to Cuttack municipality office are glaring examples of neglect. Both the pond and the park have become garbage dumps for the local residents.
The economic condition of the original Cuttakites gets ruined due to mosquito menace, substandard roads with patches, potholes and broken slabs. They spend more on vehicle repair and on treatment of their body parts due to road accidents. The repeated digging and repair of roads shows that the contractors take decisions for the road work.
Quality monitoring of roads, schools, ponds, libraries, hospitals, playgrounds, heritage places and crop procurement centers etc. will achieve inclusive growth for the State.

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