As President Obama aptly articulated while addressing a high school gathering in Osawatomie, Kansas in December 2011, “When middle class families can no longer afford to buy goods and services that businesses are selling, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom…. that’s why a CEO like Henry Ford made it his mission to pay his workers enough so they could buy the cars they made”.
The lack of a strong middle-class is evident in the north-eastern states of India. In spite of the fact that the states in the north-east rank amongst the states with higher literacy rates in the country (an average of 81.45% compared to a national average of 74.04%, according to the 2011 census), underdevelopment and unemployment thrives in the absence of infrastructure and opportunities. The governance leaves much to be desired and the political will is at best a passive rage against the system.
The State Governments in the northeast continue to be the biggest employers in the region but because of the saturation of the limited opportunities available, it is creating unhealthy competition that is spawning too many unconstitutional appointments. There is also a lack of big industries and multinational companies coming into the region because of the prevailing harsh realities of political instability and insurgency. The private sector in the region is fighting against all odds of the economic and political climate but remains inhibited and has a long way to go before it starts creating sustainable opportunities for employment and capital formation.
It seems to be a bleak future when vicious economic cycle chain the dreams of development. But there will always be hope for the willing and the able. It all comes back to the building of a stronger middle-class. One of the practical ways of doing so is by providing training and development to the human resource - the educated and the semi-educated - and placing them locally, nationally and also internationally.
The Government of India, under Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi has launched ‘Skill India’
- a national skill development programme to add value to the skills of 500 million Indians by 2022 - to enable the youth to find gainful employment so that they can be a driving force of economic growth and social development. The programme will aim at accommodating the rural, as well as the urban populace, with the targeted sectors ranging from carpentry, tailoring, hospital management, banking, jewellery designing, real estate, construction, textile etc.
In Nagaland, organizations like YouthNet, The People Channel
have been carrying the VTP (Vocational Training Provider) banner high
for a while now. These organizations have been collectively responsible for the skill development and placement of thousands of the young and educated in the state. They have successfully placed their candidates in sectors like aviation, retail, hospitality and banking within the state, within the country and also internationally. Some of the candidates are working with internationally renowned brands like Qatar Airways, Kingfisher, Jet Airways, Atlantis Dubai, ITC Hotels, HDFC and Axis Bank etc. YouthNet has been, with the assistance of the State Government, organizing job and career fairs since 2013 and have successfully placed 2000 applicants within the state and the country. In addition to the annual event, they also operate Nagaland Job Centres
in Kohima and Dimapur, which help place, qualified and educated individuals in positions of gainful employment.