Rural Employment and Migration

The rural employment challenge for Odisha essentially boils down to a mismatch between quality of available labour and minimal standards demanded for jobs on offer. Consequently, agriculture and allied activities employ 62 % workers even as they contribute only 20 % of GSDP. This means virtually all available employment in rural areas is informal in nature. Not surprisingly, Census 2011 indicates the growth of workforce at 23% during 2001-11. During the same period, cultivators, farm labourer and women cultivator decline by 19% which is a concern.  If this trend continues, soon Odisha is going to witness more people entering into labour force in informal economy and will trigger huge demand for rural employment.

In Odisha, close to 60 lakh people were registered as job seekers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005.  Las three years, an average 20 lakh people were provided employment and less than 1% of the households have received 100 days employment. Average expenditure under MGNREGA for the state remains within Rs. 2000 crore with an exception of Rs.2500 crore in 2017-18. Out of the 30 districts, districts like Mayurbhanj and Ganjam were considered relatively the best performing districts. Participation of women worker in MGNREGA is much better than the national average, but the ST person days has been on the declining and the average wage under MGNREGA has remain at Rs. 179. Irregular wage payment, non availability of work, corruption and MGNREGA governance continue to remain a huge challenge for Odisha.

All most all the districts in Odisha are reporting both opportunity and distress labour migration. As per 2017 Economic Survey of Government of India, Ganjam and Bolangir district are one of the largest labour sending districts in India. As per Department of Labour & Employment, Government of Odisha suggest close to 105,000 migrant labourers were registered under Inter-state Migrant workers Act of 1979. Approximately, Odisha receives Rs. 2000 crore as remittance from inter-state migrant workers. The migrant workers are known for the finest skill in a number of sectors such as plumbing, textile, domestic help, construction and brick making. Government of Odisha has came up with a special action plan for reducing vulnerability of migrant workers in 11 districts and civil society organizations are also doing considerable work. Migration in Odisha is also occurring due to conflict and natural disasters and needs effective attention. Moreover, migration of unskilled youth and adolescent on the rise and intra/interstate migrant workers and families continue to be invisible, trafficked, lack social security, government entitlements and encounter human rights violations.

Discussion Points:

  • Can primary sector create rural employment in Odisha?
  • What is the future of MGNREGA and how it can be revitalized?
  • How to reduce risk and vulnerability of migrant workers and families? How to ensure effective migration governance?