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Editorial

Carpe diem

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By EMN Updated: Nov 04, 2013 10:37 pm
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t feels like only yesterday, government jobs were there only for the asking.
In fact because educated and qualified Nagas were few and far in between many government servants learnt their work on the job. But the times have swiftly changed. A rapidly increasing number of educated youth find that there are no readymade jobs available.
The common refrain is for the youth to be creative and create employment.
But it may also be good to pause a while and question how creative the different departments in the government have been in the last few decades? Have they tailored their schemes or orientation to address needs in a changing society with new demands and new skills using technology as an aid?Let’s take the example of agriculture. How many of the hundreds, if not thousands, of young men and women who hold degrees in the subject have become successful entrepreneurs in this sector? The success stories we learn of in agriculture are achievements by cultivators, those who till the land and not of those who hold the degree. In the recent ‘Naga Kheti Mela’ held in Medziphema, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculure Dr. Benjongliba Aier advocated agri business to the farmers. The farmers were also addressed to adopt new technology in farming while equipping them to improvise their traditional methods of farming so that they can increase their production and also compete with others in this modern technological world.
The intentions while noble appear misplaced. What will cultivators in the field know of market demands and the backward and forward linkages in business modules?
This is where young entrepreneurs need to step in and fill the gap.The Agriculture Produce Marketing Centres (APMCs) at district headquarters might still address one aspect of the commercial potential.
This aside, the youth of Nagaland have other enterprises to venture into if they are sincerely willing to do so. This aspect has gained importance since government jobs have become saturated even though many eligible applicants still want to jump on the bandwagon through means fair or foul.
No wonder Governor Dr Ashwani Kumar had observed that what he came to understand was the saying that in Nagaland there are two avenues of employment, one being government service and the other with the undergrounds.
To address the issue of unemployment which is inordinately high in Nagaland, the Chief Minister’s Corpus Fund was re-oriented in 2002-03 with the objective to generate sustainable income to unemployed youth of the State through creation of self-employment opportunities and through capacity building programmes. From an initial amount of Rs two crores, the amount has increased manifold over the years.
Under this programme a certain amount is allocated under the corpus each year and the amount is disbursed through Planning & Co-ordination Department. A portion of the corpus fund is bifurcated to the districts to ensure proportionate selection of beneficiaries from all districts. The remaining amount is earmarked for departmental proposals, for trainings/capacity building programmes, etc.
Projects/schemes eligible for assistance should have certain objectives. These include promoting recruitment/self employment by bringing likely employers and the unemployed youth on a single platform; providing impetus to NGOs and the voluntary sector; assistance to organizations/entrepreneurs doing exemplary work in generation of employment opportunities in the State; capacity building programmes for developing the capacities of the youth to enable them to earn sustainable livelihoods; finance inputs and subsidies in critical but potential areas; coaching classes for civil service examination of UPSC; conducting of education fairs and career counseling.
All indigenous persons of the State, who are not otherwise employed and in the age group of 21 years to 40 years are eligible for benefiting through the corpus for youth.
In the Districts, selection of beneficiaries is done by the District Corpus Fund Committees constituted in each district through open interview, after observing all prescribed guidelines. Proposals for capacity building/workshops and seminars are screened and reviewed by a committee and recommended to the Chief Minister for approval.
The concept of this fund which was also emulated by several States was to motivate the youth to “invest, work and earn” without having to depend on government employment. Since inception, a number of the potential entrepreneurs have done well due to their determination and hard work.
Unfortunately, quite a good number have also messed up in repayment in instalments of the amounts granted to them. In addition, some middlemen/agents also hitched on to wagon and because of some of them the beneficiaries have had to face financial liabilities or extra expenditure from other sources.
According to official sources a total of 9072 Naga youths have been trained outside the state in various programs and institutions in the country under various programme of the State Government such as Chief Minister’s Corpus Fund (CMCF) and Capacity Building from 2003-04 to 2011-12. Of these, 1581 have been given placements so far.
Also, 233 youths were sent abroad to be trained through the same programme of the State Government while 22 of them have got placements.
The dismal figures of success in both cases cited above have been due to lackadaisical attitude of many of those selected. It is not without reason to deduce that quite a number of those beneficiaries got through selection because of certain connections and not necessarily because they deserved it. By the same token a number of deserving candidates got sidelined. In fact, there have been reports about the casualness with which some of these beneficiaries treated their opportunities plus some indiscipline obviously.
The Global Open University is a joint public-private partnership (PPP) venture between the Government of Nagaland and the World Institution Building Programme (WIBP). The State Government gives grants-in-aid to sponsor the students from Nagaland by paying their fees, and the WIBP as the sponsoring agency for the university provides Rs. 7 Crore as the Corpus Fund in the name of The Global Open University.
In fact, there are other similar programmes which are centrally sponsored. One of them is Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP). It’s objective all over India is to generate employment opportunities in rural as well as urban areas through setting up of new self-employment ventures/projects/micro enterprises. The programme was launched to empower the first generation entrepreneurs to set up micro enterprises. The scheme was formulated by merging Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojana (PMRY) and Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP).
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the nodal agency at the national level. The scheme will be implemented through KVIC and KVIB in rural areas and through DICs in both rural and urban areas. With such facilities and opportunities, the youth must now pull up their socks, gird their loins and strive not only for personal benefit but by their enterprises ensure that the community and hence, the State, benefit as a whole. With artful craftsmanship, some of our local products can even make it to the international markets also. Let us not allow such privileges to go the usual flash in the pan way.

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By EMN Updated: Nov 04, 2013 10:37:23 pm