Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rozgar Dhaba—a Panchayat Resource Center
 Leveraging Technology to develop skills of rural youths and mitigate migration

1. Context & Situation:
Many of us who have rural background and at present working in cities could easily understand the situation of employment opportunities in rural areas. I am from a small village called Chausa  in Buxar district of Bihar and  have gone through good institutions, and technical professional course, presently working in New Delhi and at present earning better, staying in a better accommodation and happy with the living standard, but this not may be the case of many rikshawalas , constructions workers  and many  daily wage workers , who have been migrated from rural or tribal background, they have to survive  with average wage of 200-250 per day, have to live in highly unhygienic unauthorised slums, probably with one time unhygienic food, without any sanitation facility, without any health services and with name tag of  “Sehar ki gandagi”. But the big question is why this all? Why and how after been migrated I am able to cope up in a better way and able to survive better in a city, but not these rikshawals and other people from the same category? Three probable reasons could be my family financial status is quite good; I have gone through professional institute and have received proper guidance from the educational institute to get a better job here in the city, which may not be in the case of daily wage workers in cities. But again here the question is why daily wages migrants can’t be skilled/trained one? A report from World Bank[1] states that migration from rural Indian context is about 26% and 78% of this migration is within the states where as 22% total migration is out of the migrant native state and following would be the key reasons on which this paper would be discussing and suggesting a development model to strengthen Governance system at Panchayat level to mitigate migration from rural India:

1. 1. Limited Livelihood Opportunities with rural people: Last census report of India in 2011 unveils that counted India’s population is 121 billion and out of this nearly 70% of population lives in rural context, but surprisingly for the 70% population, income/livelihood opportunities are mainly in the form of:
  • 1.1.1 Practicing agriculture
  • 1.1.2 Accessing government programmes
  • 1.1.3 Daily wage labour work

But with all these options , various de-motivating factors exists at ground level and thus makes rural community ( especially youths) to migrate to near by cities or to metro cities of other states and survive at the cost of their life and dignity.

1. 1. 1. Practicing Agriculture:
Non-profitable agriculture: At present agriculture (especially in case of small and marginalised farmers) is seems to be non-profitable with high cost of input (input cost in agriculture is about 70-72% of the total income from agriculture[2]). Concept of sustainable agriculture/organic farming is still far behind and its feasibility (mainly with small & marginalised farmers from northern & central belt of India) is quite difficult because of knowledge on organic practices and costly and tedious organic certification process. Also in most of the cases for farmers “more production” is important rather than giving consideration for soil health. A report from Greenpeace India unveils that   there is constant increase in the agriculture input-fertilisers (The average crop response to fertiliser use was around 25 kg of grain per kg of fertiliser during 1960s, the said value has reduced drastically to 8 kg/kg only during late 1990s[3]), where as production has become stagnant or has gone down and thus with increase in input cost investment has increased and profit from agriculture has gone down and is one of the key reason for farmers suicide in many of the agriculture belts of India.  

Lack of technological awareness: Another aspect which has made agriculture a non-profitable in rural India is “poor knowledge” on modern technology applications in agriculture to gain more with less investment.  On hand institutions like KVK and NABARD has been set-up to aware and support rural farming community on technical and financial aspect, where as on the other hand Government of India (GoI) and other different technical institutions/universities and  NGOs have introduced systems like generating knowledge and awareness amongst community through mobile sms/Kissan call center, agriculture related programmes ( Krishi Darshan[4] on Doordarshan etc) on television, agriculture based community radio initiatives in many parts of India, but overall the entire scenario literacy  and skill of usage of technology has missed , and thus in spite of having various technical setups to promote profitable agriculture still many small and marginalised farmers prefer to have daily wage work than practicing agriculture[5].
Lack of knowledge & skills on access to finance:  to One more key aspect, which has hindered the profit of agriculture is the access of financial support to the farmers (mainly for small and marginalised) and if we do diagnosis of it , again we will find that  on one hand there good number  of financial institutional( In rural banking of India there are 14475 rural banks in the country of which 2126 i.e. 91% are located in remote areas[6]) set-up in the rural context of India  in the form of Grameen banks, Cooperatives , central banks-rural divisions, NABARD etc, where as on the other hand from government different subsidy and loan policies/programmes are there for the farmers through rural financial institutional set-ups, but still an estimated 500-600 million rural population do not have bank accounts and a good percentage of those who have bank accounts are still not able to understand the complexity of availing financial services for the agriculture sector and base reason behind this is that there are structural and policy setups for financial services, but a set-up/system at rural community level to literate people or to generate/spread knowledge  on accessing financial services is still lacking and thus in spite of entire bigger system of financial set-ups still an estimated credit demand in rural India is about 133000 crores [7]. In the recent past ATM machines and kiosk banking has also introduced in rural belt, but again knowledge & skill to operate ATMs [8](important is considering access by poor and marginalised) are the big hindrances.

With all the above concerns agriculture-a key source of livelihood for the rural community is losing its importance amongst the community and thus now farming communities are also migrating to cities.

1.1.2 Accessing Government programmes: There are government programmes like MGNREGA[9] (that too an option of unskilled work), but is limited to 100 days of work to a Household , not to an individual and has many issues in terms of delay in payment, less wages etc.  In a survey by Caritas India[10] in Madhya Pradesh (104 villages of 7 districts-Indore, Ujjain, Umaiya, Shivpuri, Khandwa, Shehore and Jhabua) and Rajasthan ( 43 villages of Sawaimadhopur, Ajmer & Banswara)  in 2012 unveils that still 48% of the households in the said districts villages do not have access to MGNREGA i.e still they do not have the job cards to avail work under MGNREGA. One of the significant objectives of the NREGA is to arrest out-migration of unskilled, landless labour force from the rural areas to urban areas by ensuring up to 100 days of wage employment within their native jurisdiction so that these 100 days guaranteed wage employment can be judiciously and rationally utilized by the landless peasants during lean and distress seasons. 70% of the families baseline surveyed opined that there is migration from their respective village to towns/cities in search of job. Almost fifty percent of the HHs have expressed that migration is taking place from their villages. Contrary to the general perception of better wages upon migration, 70 percent of the beneficiaries revealed that the migration is only for just wages and not for any better wages. This implies that there is a distress migration for just minimum wages to eke out the livelihood and for survival rather than for better wages.  At present government has introduced payment of MGNREGA work through post office/banks and one can see the status of MGNREGA work details of their villages on its website, but here poor or Base of Pyramid (BoP) rural context have highly poor financial and technical skill, thus again in spite of have good systems, somewhere without a system of strengthening knowledge and skills to access the benefits, options for rural people are limited.

On the other hand there are there are other government programmes for income generation in the rural areas but again the difficulty is in the decentralised system of functioning in India knowledge of development/income generation programmes are higher at policy makers where as it is limited at the community level also at Panchayat level hardly there is any public system which could generate /train/ on knowledge of government programmes. Many times information on government programmes ends up with the pasting a note on the panchayat notice board and in most of the cases hardly such information’s been shared in the Panchayats  and by the Panchayats, on contrary if we see now Panchayats are moving towards  e-panchayat /e-governance system with connectivity and accessibility to internet , but again the difficulty is in the form of knowledge and skills on the usage of ICT ( Information Communication & Technology) by the community  to know about livelihood options  and to generate income from the same is the big question mark. Also other practical situations in the form electricity, availability of ICT technical person in the villages are concerns to think on!

From the above we can observe that in spite of having good government programmes of income generation or employment guarantee , lack of knowledge on the programmes  amongst community and difficulty in its execution and reaching to the community creates a space gap between livelihood based government programmes and community and thus migration takes place!

1.1.3 Daily wage labour work: Another key source of livelihood for the BoP from rural context is daily wage labour work, but interesting facts about it is that the recent boom in construction/real estate sector in A & B class[11] cities of India made most of the unskilled daily wage labourers in these cities in excitement of getting 200-250 INR per day in compare to 100-130 INR per day in their natives, but these daily wage labourers ending their search at construction sites are hardly aware about the difficulties of living in cities and once left their villages, difficult to get back, because of family and societal pressure to earn and send back money to their family members staying in villages. Worst part in this entire circle of wage labour is that through out the life a wage labour is wage labour and hardly able to become a skilled worker, this also creates impact on their future generation to be a wage labour only!

1.2.Limited scope for skill development of rural youth:  In terms of skill development of rural youths there is hardly any option of skill based trainings/education are available for the rural people (mainly youths). A report on skilled workers under unorganised sector confirms 26 million people engaged in unorganised sector are mainly the migrant workers from rural India  and of total workers engaged in unorganised sector that there are only 2%[12] of youths ( under 35 years of age) are skilled youths. This scenario of skilled and unskilled rural community clearly indicates that either the government programmes or the individuals interest in income generation is mere limited to income generation only and through any source ( no concern  of being skilled), This results in youths and their future generation end-up mostly with the unskilled daily wage worker  and thus they have only option left out is migrating to near by or metro cities and get engaged in to construction labour work or rikshaw ( tri-cycle) puller, house servants  or other similar type daily wage work settled in unauthorised illegal slums  and get the name tag of  Sehar ki Gandagi ( squalor of cities)! Important aspect need to be noticed here is that many of these unskilled labourers could be turned up in to small-scale entrepreneurs in their own local context and would have been providing various technical and no-technical skilled services to the local community and must be generating employment opportunities for many other youths; provided they would have been properly guided and trained on locally possible income generating skilled work.  Also probably this would be the best option where youths been trained locally on the locally possible skilled trades  (knowledge and practice based rather than literature based) to initiate entrepreneurship or get engaged locally , and thus this would reduce migration pressure on cities and give the rural community a life with family, with their own land and with dignity! Government of Rajasthan with its programme RMOL ( Rajasthan Mission of Livelihood),  the recently initiated central government programme NRLM ( National Rural Livelihood Mission) and National Policy on Skill Development (In India)   talks about  and includes skill development of rural youths , but here again the biggest hurdle is accessibility of all these schemes by the community. We can also understand this thing in the form that there are skill development programmes/platform for the rural youths and there are unemployed and unskilled rural youths , but there is no common platform to bring both programmes and youths together and thus on one side various programmes from government are keep on coming where as migration on the other hand is keep on increasing from rural to urban context!

1.1.3        Advanced communication technology in rural India:  With 2013 rural India has also grown with technological interventions mainly to upgrade skills and share information through internet and mobiles. A study report on usage of technology (in the form of usage of computer and mobile) by rural population  states that 4.6% of  Rural India population have access to Internet ( which has grown 7.2 % in last two years), where as 39% of rural India population uses mobile for communication[13]. These are the bigger technological changes in rural India which makes them connect through cites and even the entire globe? Why cant’ this communication technology would be used for mitigating migration  and generating better livelihood options for the rural population ( mainly the deprived section) in their own villages and for 365 days in a year?
This is one of the important aspect in the rural context that , technology in the form of mobile, internet, DTH[14] ( Direct To Home) television is existing and emerging at large scale, but the usage of it is mainly limited with entertainment rather than gaining knowledge and as a source of income generation. Infect in villages keeping mobile has now become the part of life and is also a status symbol. Keeping mobile also incurs expanses and on average per month expense of mobile holders in rural India is about 100-150 INR[15] , this in turn is an extra expenditure for the rural poor and has hardly any role in generating income.

1.2 Inference of above discussion:
From the above discussion on rural livelihood scenario it is quite clear that in the rural context, government has various livelihood based development programmes, community has its own resources in the form of agriculture and allied sector, community has now access and ease in usage of ICT (Information Communication & Technology) for their day to day life happenings and also community do not wants to migrate if locally they could have better livelihood options. The hurdle is visualised in the form of a common platform to bring programme , community and usage of existing local  ICT to generate locally possible sustainable livelihood options through knowledge and skill development of community at local level and on regular basis and  in turn it will change the community attitude towards migrating to cities in search of livelihood!

2. A solution to mitigate migration through Rozgar Dhaba as Panchayat Resource Centers (PRC): With the above said status and possibility of usage of Information and communication based technology to ensure sustainable livelihood options in the rural and tribal pockets of Rajasthan (Ajmer and Banswara) Caritas India has intervened with a livelihood model through its LIFE[16] (Livelihood Initiation For Empowerment) project in the form of Rozgar Dhaba Centers! At present 6 Rozgar Dhaba centers are in operation (4 at Ajmer & 2 at Banswara).  

2.1 Concept of Rozgar Dhaba : In today’s world “information on livelihood and on time” is vital for everyone either some one is staying in urban big cities or some one is living in small interior village. At present we see several centers, agencies, and websites providing information to urban people on urban based livelihood. Some of the well known websites are as:
But hardly there is any agency or center which provides information on development programmes, rural livelihood options and for skill development of youths for rural community. Rural people have only source in the form of Panchayat, but at most of the places Panchayat operations are inactive in terms of providing information’s. Considering the above Rozgar Dhaba has emerged as the concept of Information Center providing information on various rural livelihood options and is only working for the poor people and the sustainable livelihood options related with them in the form of skill upgradtion, providing access to government schemes, and promotion of low cost sustainable agriculture ,
Objective of Rozgar Dhaba:

  • Securing livelihood of the rural poor and marginalised youths through strengthening the channel of information dissemination on employment availability and other livelihood sources.
  • Increased livelihood opportunities for the underprivileged youth with a focus on more entrepreneurs.
Base of Rozgar Dhaba: Rozgar Dhaba is an internet and mobile technology based livelihood promotion center being established in rural context in the form of Panchayat Resource Center to technically assist Panchayats in knowledge and skill building of community on various livelihood based government programmes. It is a center at Panchayat level where simply community is being trained on internet and mobile usage to access government schemes and is also used to train rural youths on various locally possible skills and also work as a portal for rural youths to place them in the near by areas private and public firms.  
Focus of Rozgar Dhaba: It focuses on farmers, school dropout and illiterate youth (both male & female) in the concerned villages to secure their livelihood by building skills through vocational training, generating awareness on government schemes and programmes through IEC (Information Education & Communication)  material and personal interaction ( in the form of guidance and counselling), establishing and strengthening linkages with PRI and other local institutions for the growth and development of the community. Rozgar Dhaba empowers the community by building skills in various trades to help them build livelihood on their own.

Rozgar Dhaba thus is making a movement in the country through the associating/implementing partners to reach out to the un-reached and vulnerable sections to tap the hidden potential of youth who are branded as redundant, waste, useless and how best it can recycle them into productive human capital as opportunities galore in the globalized economy.

Facilities at Rozgar Dhaba: At present following facilities are available at the Rozgar Dhaba
·         It providers information (audio-visual & printed) electronic on self-employment, employment, agriculture, livestock rearing and income generation activities) for all targeted groups.
·          IEC ( Information Education & Communication)  material & Forms are available at the centre to give handholding support to the villagers to apply and access the benefits of the schemes.
·          Weekly film-shows based on livelihood generation and other project issues would be imparted.
·         Information Communication & Technology (ICT) services are available through internet for villagers for updated information’s and services.

Skill development:
  • Community based trainings on usage of mobile to accesses government schemes ( mainly knowing about government programmes, its submission of application and availing its benefits) and on various other services like how to call Kissan call center ( & what information could be gathered from it) is being given on regular day to day basis. Demonstrations of such calls are being done at the Panchayat level Rozgar Dhaba center (especially when community comes to watch television during evening time)

·         For the unemployed people it caters in terms of providing initial job information/notices and also about different institutes from where they can get training before starting their job

  • Evening and early morning skill development classes  through recorded ( through laptop)  skill development trainings on locally possible income generation trades (like mobile repair, agriculture motor mechanic, motor cycle repair, tractor repair, petty shop establishment, beautician, craft ) is being given to the village youths (both male and female)
Financial support:
  • Establishes linkages with NABARD, KVK  and local banks and creates a platform for sharing and linking rural youths with technical and financial support to be an entrepreneur. It caters for those people who want to start their own small business i.e. who want to be self-employed in terms of providing information about different banks which can give them financial support in terms of loan, institutes which can provide them training and basic information about the job they want to start. 

·         It supports the concept of women empowerment in the form of initiating the concept of Self Help Group (SHG) and other skill development initiatives in the form of tailoring and other gender (female) related courses. At present 3 women manages business initiatives ( Poultry farm, tailoring center and a restaurant) are in operation in 3 villages of Ajmer through Rozgar Dhaba

Assistance support:
·         It caters to the physically handicapped people in terms of providing information to them about several government schemes for physically handicapped people and assisting and helping those to get benefit of that schemes. Along with that it will also provide them proper support for self-employment. 

·         It also provides counselling to the community on different livelihood options.

·         Assistance in filing RTI ( Right To Information) as apart of service or complain redressial mechanism 

·         Assisting old age people in terms of providing information on old age pension, travel concession, low bank interest rate etc.

Agricultural support:
Rozgar Dhaba also work as the center for disseminating information (and probably implementation) on agriculture to the rural youths and farmers to ensure and (or) secure their livelihood for combating poverty and hungerness (addressing the 1st Millennium Development Goal). This information could be in the form of:

  • Online training conferencing (through laptop and internet)  on usage  local seeds,  practice of organic cultivation through locally possible organic inputs
  • Information on kisan credit card and other government schemes related to agriculture
  • IEC material on Right for Food programme & PDS system

How Rozgar Dhaba functions?

  • Operated by community & PRI: At present Rozgar Dhaba is being operated with the support from community and PRI (Community and PRI has provided rooms for its operation and bearing other expenditures as-electricity, water and its maintenance. Farmers club of the village do the management of Rozgar Dhaba.

  • MIS for people registered at Rozgar Dhaba: Each and every Rozgar Dhaba has a its own MIS system where there is details of all those community members who have registered their name at the center. Rozgar Dhaba also maintains the MIS for service providers and job providers

  • A trained local team: A team of rural youth volunteers and member of farmers club being initially trained on usage of communication technology especially mobile and internet and then through these local human resources further on knowledge and skill is being imparted amongst the other community members.

·        By being the part of panchayat or working in collaboration with Panchayat (Its 1st time in India, a VIC has become officially the part of Panchayat) : Now with the initiation of Rozgar Dhaba under LIFE project; LIFE project at Ajmer has crossed another landmark in establishing linkages with PRI. In Ajmer LIFE project  4 villages we have Rozgar Dhaba to facilitate information dissemination on government schemes and work as a bridge between the local employer and unemployed villages, it also promote sustainable agriculture through capacity building and tie-ups with KVK-Ajmer. Now out of four Rozgar Dhaba’s one Rozgar Dhaba  ( at Naulakha village) has now become the part of Godiyawas Panchayat (one of the project Panchayat) at Godiyawas village. Panchayat has officially approved and given space ( a Panchayat School old building) for the Rozgar Dhaba Center to operate and assist in the various activities of Panchayat, especially in terms of generating awareness on government schemes. Now at Naulakha Rozgar Dhaba on an average 50-60 people walk-in for getting information on various schemes and accessing information through news paper and television.  Panchayat also feel Rozgar Dhaba as one of the better option, where not only information on government schemes, but also counseling and assistance is being provided by the Rozgar Dhaba.

2.1 Impact of Rozgar Dhaba in strengthening governance and mitigating migration:
Social strengthening governance:
  • Established a common platform for the for the community by the community to  gain knowledge and skill on various livelihood options
  • Now at Naulakha Rozgar Dhaba on an average 50-60 people walk-in for getting information on various schemes and accessing information through news paper and television. 
Political strengthening of  Panchayat functions:
  • Functions of Godiywas Panchayat has improved in terms of NREGA and other govt schemes. Godiywas Panchayat has become one of the best Panchayat in the Rajasthan for the performance in MGNREGA, where every eligible HHs has job card, 95% of the HHS received 100 days of work with full wage.
  • Panchayat also feel Rozgar Dhaba as one of the better option, where not only information on government schemes, but also counselling and assistance is being provided by the Rozgar Dhaba
Economically strengthening of community:
  • In last 2 years 117 youths been trained and out of this 50 have started earning average income ranging from 1500-4500 INR per month.
  • 200 youths have seek information on various govt. employment opportunities and 80% of them applied for it and about 7% of them got jobs.
  • Unsafe migration in the project villages project villages has reduced to 100%, and migration in total has reduced up to 80%

3. Conclusion:
With the simple training to community on usage of mobile and internet to access government schemes and develop skills, we can strengthen the concept of usage of technology to gather information on various government programmes, developing skills of youth and place them locally or near by and could be a possible source to reduce migration pressure on urban cities from rural India  and this all  could be possible through initiating a technology based model like Rozgar Dhaba through gram Panchayats.

-Vinod Kumar Pandey

[1] Source:

[2] Base line survey findings by caritas India in Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan in 2012
[4] Krishi darshan: is an Indian television program on Doordarshan aimed at disseminating agricultural information to rural, farming audiences. It commenced on January 26, 1967 and is one of the longest running programs on Indian television
[5] Based on the Baseline survey by Caritas India in the tribal and rural pockets of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in 2012
[6] Source: Indian finance & investment guide
[8] An automated teller machine or automatic teller machine (ATM) is a computerized telecommunications device that enables the clients of a financial institution to perform financial transactions without the need for a cashier, human clerk or bank teller. ATMs are known by various other names including ATM machine, automated banking machine, "cash machine"
[9] MGNREGA: The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act aims at enhancing the livelihood security of people in rural areas by guaranteeing hundred days of wage-employment in a financial year to a rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. It has enacted by legislation on August 25, 2005
[10] Caritas India is the official national organisation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India for social development. It was established in 1962 to assist the Church in India in efforts to eradicate poverty, reach relief and rehabilitation in times of disasters and organize communities for self advancement. During the last four decades of its humanitarian and development efforts, Caritas India has served the poor and marginalized, without any distinction of caste, creed and ethnicity.
[14] Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) is a term used to refer to satellite television broadcasts intended for home reception. A designation broader than DBS would be direct-to-home signals, or DTH. This has initially distinguished the transmissions directly intended for home viewers from cable television distribution services that sometimes carried on the same satellite.
[15] Based on caritas India findings in baseline survey reports of Madhya Pradesh & Rajasthan in 2012
[16] LIFE (Livelihood Initiation For Empowerment) project has been initiated by Caritas India and Caritas Spain with the concept of securing the sustainable livelihood options for the deprived targeted community of the Banswara and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan.  The project is being implemented by SJVS Banswara and Disha-RCDSSS Ajmer in 20 project villages of the concerned districts (10 villages in each district). For more on LIFE project log on to


Gopal Vundavalli said...

Excellent Work

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