The burgeoning problem of unemployment in India does not augur well for the economic health of the country. Development still being an alien concept in Assam, the unemployment problem is starker here. A lot of industrial units are closing shops in our State, there are a lot of dying units, financial institutions are grasping with the problem of non-performing assets (NPAs) due to the failure on the part of fledgling industrial units to repay loans – all these factors coupled is further aggravating the problem of unemployment .
Inventory pile-up and improper inventory planning and control, lack of healthy competition in the market, no proper planning of manpower is further worsening the unemployment scenario in Assam. How many of the young unemployed boys in the State who take loan from various banks to open small industrial units have the capacity to repay the same? Most of these units shut down and more and more NPAs are formed. I personally feel that industrial units with low capital infusion should be set up with the objective of ploughing back profit for future capital infusion.
Low Capital Infusion Avenues:
- The people of Assam consume different types of fish – major part of it being imported from States outside Assam like Kanpur and Andhra Pradesh. Whereas, in Assam, we find that in villages a large number of ponds lie commercially unutilised and agricultural land remain fallow for major part of the year. Assam is heavily dependent on other States of India for pulses. Therefore, we should devise ways to utilise the land for multiple agricultural activities and also get involved in pisciculture in a big way.
- The agriculture sector in Assam is very unscientific in its approach towards cultivation resulting in low production and productivity. Bullocks are still preferred in many parts of the State by farmers over state-of-the-art farming methods. Proper soil testing process is hardly followed. The time has come to change our approach towards agricultural production and take on a more scientific temperament; otherwise agricultural produce will continue to dwindle in Assam.
- Though fruits and vegetables like mango, jackfruit, lemon, carrot, ginger and garlic are found in abundance in Assam, but, yet, we are not tapping them properly. The said fruits and vegetables can help small entrepreneurs to set up small units to make pickles and do a booming business. Yet, our youths while their time away and the State is flooded with various kinds of pickles from other parts of the country. One might say about cold storage facilities. But, production and cold storage facility, everything taken together, the cost will still be minimal and Assam can be self-sufficient in pickle-making.
- Similarly, there is lack of jam and jelly-making units in Assam though mangoes, pineapples and plums are found in abundance. Local bananas and potatoes also get spoilt due to the lack of cold storage facilities. To do well on the economic front, the production cost must necessarily cover up all the costs which constitute the total cost of sales. Availability of raw materials at affordable rates and low transportation cost do a great justice towards industrial growth. Otherwise, even though in the short term a manufacturing unit can somehow survive, in the long run the survival of the unit will be at stake.
- The jute-based industry in Assam holds a bright future. Bangladesh, the neighbouring country of India, borders Assam and is very famous for jute-based products and they garner pretty good revenue by exporting the same. Taking a leaf out of Bangladesh’s book, Assam should also capitalise on its jute-based industries to bring a boost on the economic front. The jute-based industrial units are not very capital-intensive and multiple products can be made out of jute – which has huge demand both in the national as well as in the international markets. The sad part is that, the jute industry is still at its nascent stage in Assam and jute cultivation is given least importance in the State – a product which can give a big boost to the economic wheels of Assam. Starting from dolls, furniture to bags – all are imported to the State – whereas the fact is that the State can be self-sufficient in jute cultivation and can also export the surplus jute and the jute products.
- Poultry farming is another area where the State is lagging far behind though it has a scope for doing very well. Assam is heavily dependent on imports from other parts of the country.
It is high time that Assam should stop importing food items from other parts of the country and try to be self-reliant as it has lot of scope to produce the same in its own State. All these small initiatives will go a long way in solving the unemployment problem in Assam and will also give a shot in the arm to the economic health of the State.
Satyajit Kumar Sharmah Thakuria is an advocate of Gauhati High Court. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org