Calling for a "compassionate" approach to labour issues at a time when employment growth is crawling due to slowdown in the economy and restrictive laws that discourage the industry from going for aggressive hiring, Modi said a labourer (shram yogi) can become a nationalist (rashtra yogi) and a nation builder (rashtra nirmata) with skill development and better working conditions.
"The Shramev Jayate initiatives were an essential element of the 'Make in India' vision, as they would pave the way for skill development of the youth in a big way, and even create an opportunity for India to meet the global requirement of skilled labour workforce in the years ahead," he said, launching the labour scheme Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Shramev Jayate Karyakram.
Soon after Modi took charge in Delhi, the government unveiled a New Employment Policy to reverse the jobless growth era of the last decade when GDP grew at an average annual rate of 8% while growth in jobs was below 1%. What's alarming is that only 10% of the labour force has acquired some technical skill, of which just one-fourth has received formal technical education. This has kept the country's labour productivity low as compared to emerging economies like China and Brazil. Labour productivity as measured in terms of GDP per person employed in India was $10,651 in 2013, much lower than China ($19,666), Brazil ($19,833) and a small fraction of those in developed nations like Germany ($79,896) and US ($114,914) in 2013, according to data collated by global thinktank The Conference Board.
Unless skill development is stepped up, the manufacturing sector cannot scale up output beyond a point and become globally competitive. This was all the more necessary in the wake of the 'Make in India' initiative that calls for rapid industrialisation with focus on high-tech sectors and infrastructure building, mainly for industrial corridors, freight corridors and smart cities.
In this context, Modi said the Apprentice Protsahan Yojana would help in boosting skill development and jobs for freshers.
While there has been demand from the industry for hard labour reforms in the form of amending the Industrial Disputes Act to ease hire and fire, Modi said: "We must see labour issues through the perspective of labourers."
Asserting that the government was taking into account the interests of workers as well as employers, Modi said while the Shram Suvidha Portal has simplified compliance of 16 labour laws through a single online form, the transparent labour inspection scheme for random selection of units for inspection would end undue harassment of the inspector raj and ensure better compliance.
Industry bodies welcomed the new initiatives that aim at removing the irritants to doing business. Lauding the landmark decisions on the industry friendly Flexi MoUs, Apprentice Protsahan Yojana and Recognition of Prior Learning, CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said: "These will definitely give a boost to industrial growth. The manufacturing sector has been in need of innovative initiatives in the workforce area. We are confident these changes will scale and speed the much required skill requirement to support Make in India. With ease of doing business and availability of skilled manpower, growth of the manufacturing sector will get a huge fillip and objectives of Make in India will be a reality."