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Urban Employment Guarantee in India: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The last few years have seen a lot of discussion and debate, as well as policy experiments on urban employment programmes in India. In Basole et al (2019) a possible design for an employment guarantee programme was presented for small towns, intended to reduce underemployment and precarity in the informal sector while investing in local infrastructure, reversing ecological damage and improving resilience to climate change. The ensuing months prior to the Covid-19 pandemic saw a vigorous debate on the feasibility as well as desirability of such a programme. The pandemic has dramatically altered the landscape in which this debate is happening. The lack of an urban safety net for informal workers resulted in large-scale reverse migration leading in extreme cases to tragic and avoidable instances of severe distress and death. In response, several states have already launched or are considering urban employment schemes (as of date - Kerala, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Tamil Nadu). Lack of fiscal resources prevents such scheme form being true guarantees. This webinar will present the 2019 proposal in brief and then discuss the need for such a programme at the national level.

Oct 19, 2021 06:00 PM in India

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Amit Basole
Associate Professor of Economics @Azim Premji University
Amit Basole is Associate Professor of Economics at the School of Liberal Studies, Azim Premji University where he teaches development economics and political economy. He has previously taught at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA and University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA. His research has been published in various edited volumes and in journals such as Economic and Political Weekly, World Development, Development and Change, Rethinking Marxism, International Journal of Hindu Studies, and International Review of Applied Economics. Amit has recently edited a book called ‘Lokavidya Perspectives: A Philosophy of Political Imagination for the Knowledge Age’.
Jayati Ghosh
Professor of Economics @University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jayati Ghosh taught economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for nearly 35 years. In January 2021, she will join the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has authored and/or edited 19 books, including Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalising India (Women Unlimited, New Delhi 2009); the co-edited Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development (2014); Demonetisation Decoded (Routledge 2017), and Women Workers in the Informal Economy (Routledge forthcoming) and nearly 200 scholarly articles. She has received several prizes, including for distinguished contributions to the social sciences in India in 2015; the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Research Prize for 2010; the NordSud Prize for Social Sciences 2010, Italy. She has advised governments in India and other countries, including as Chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Commission on Farmers’ Welfare in 2004, and Member of the National Knowledge Commission of India (2005-09).
Nikhil Dey
Activist @Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Nikhil Dey is one of the founding members of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) with Aruna Roy and Shankar Singh. Since 1990, he has been a full-time worker of the MKSS, and a part of the organisation’s decision-making collective. In this capacity he has been involved in struggles of the poor for justice, including grass root struggles for land and the payment of minimum wages. He has also been a part of the organisation’s involvement in collective larger campaigns – most notably for the people’s Right to Information (RTI), and the Right to Work (MGNREGA). Both the RTI and NREGA, which passed in 2005, strengthened people’s rights and entitlements. Nikhil Dey is also part of the effort by people’s movements to build institutions of participatory democracy, where, for instance, peoples platforms for public audits are being institutionalised by introducing statutory requirements of social audits and public hearings.