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Guaranteed Employment

By Karmayogi

When there is a food shortage in the country, there are no two opinions. Buy, import, grow - food must be made available to all. There is no point in saying, ‘‘Well, we have to learn to live with the famine''. At least NOW no government can afford to say that and still hope to be in power. When food is available and the man has no money, that FOOD is meaningless. Abolition of famine means abolition of unemployment. So far, no country apart from USSR has achieved full employment. Governments offer sympathies and plead helplessness. The bureaucrat can plead helplessness, as he is under the political leadership. The leadership has no right to say it is helpless. The International Commission for Peace and Food gave a call in 1994 for guaranteed employment.

A leadership qualifies to govern the nation only when it guarantees employment. The Planning Commission's Vision 2020 report calls for guaranteed employment. It is great that it did so. There are more than a dozen reports submitted to the Government about additional avenues for employment. In fact, it has been the experience of every development pocket, whether it is in Punjab or Coimbatore or in our tiny isolated rural project in Ramapuram, that labour is in short supply the moment development of any type is introduced. Even at the time of the 1929-32 economic crises when there was unemployment all over the world, historians now say USA was in a boom just prior to it. The crisis was generated by manipulation in the money market.

Bharathi shouted from the housetop that no single man ought to go without food. I would go further, not merely asking for reduced unemployment or even guaranteeing employment as a government programme. There has to be a legal guarantee for every adult. It is the fundamental duty of every civilised government to grant the fundamental right to employment, amending the constitution for that purpose. It is not charity, a help, or a service. It is Man's birthright to have employment. The right is his own because he is an individual. No one needs to grant it to him as an extension of courtesy. The society is wider and greater than the government. The society should ensure it to each individual by virtue of his being a citizen. To recognise the right to employment is to recognise the spiritual individual.
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