4.c) Impact an landless labourers

The landless labourers form one fourth of the rural Population, but their number is ever increasing. Economically, they are at the bottom of the strata, especially since the situation of the small peasants has been improved during recent years. The work of the Academy brought only limited benefits to this group. On account of the Rural Works Programme, underemployed labourers could find some temporary employment during the slack season and this increased their earnings. Some landless labourers became members of the cooperatives and enjoyed the credit facilities. Otherwise, the benefit of the Academy's activities to landless labourers was more of an indirect nature. The increased production of the farmers provided more employment for them.

With the limited areas of land available for production and the slow rate of industrialization, the number of landless labourers is ever increasing and the living conditions are, when compared with the land owning classes. deteriorating. It will, however, be very difficult to do something for their betterment.

A possibility might be offered by a new type of Rural Works Programme. While the original task of constructing the rural infrastructure has more or less come to an end, there are other opportunities of using the manpower by construction work for the improvement of the economic capacity of the country. Among these, construction and maintenance of irrigation, drainage and flood control systems have high priority. They would immediately affect production and would be of benefit to all cultivators, contrary to road construction which benefits mainly the larger Farmers uy providing increased marketing possibilities. Especially the introduction of high yielding varieties of rice, with its specific demands an the quality of irrigation, makes efforts for the improvement of irrigation an urgent necessity. The structure of the Rural Works Programme would probably have to be changed and adapted to the requirements. The need for planning and for skilled people might be greater as against the construction of village roads. Anyhow, steering the idea of Rural Works Programme into this field would be of great assistance to the development of agriculture as well as to the unemployed labourers It would be a worthwhile task for the Academy to develop a workable organizational form.

Rural Works Programme type of activities will provide only temporary employment and can, therefore, release the pressure an underemployed people, but they are no final solution. A final solution requires the creation of new productive jobs for all those who are, at present, not fully employed or employed at low productivity. While employment is not an end in itself but a by product of the economic development process, there certainly exist many possibilities to increase the number of jobs created within the process by applying the right techniques and by keeping in mind the employment aspect during the development planning process.

Besides, all activities leading to economic development will provide more jobs. such possibilities exist in agriculture, for instance, the introduction of double cropping or the changeover to more intensive crops. An excellent example of the introduction of new techniques with vast effects on employment is winter irrigation which started in recent years and abolished the former slack season so that, in some areas, the Rural Works Programme has difficulties to recruit the necessary labour force. All new sophisticated methods and techniques, like plant protection, better quality of irrigation, etc., require increased work. The task is to study one by one the possible changes and innovations, and to select those which, beside being economically advantageous, have a favourable impact an employment.

Another factor, closely related to improvement in agriculture, is marketing, including transportation, grading and storage. In these sectors, improvement in agriculture has a secondary effect an employment. The relation between more sophisticated agriculture and rural industries creating non-agricultural jobs is obvious. Most crops require some processing to prepare them for human consumption. The more non-staple foods are included in the cropping pattern, the more the scope for processing and preservation is increased. At a time when the staple food gap is diminishing, the scope for such sophisticated crops is increasing. It might be rewarding to study its possibilities, always keeping in mind the employment aspect.

Apart from industries related to agriculture, the growing purchasing power of part of the population requires units for the production of the daily necessities of life. So far, most of this production took place in large cities. While, in some Gases, the location of industries is more or less rigidly prescribed, in many other cases it is located at different places including the rural centres of administration and traffic and improves the employment situation in rural areas. The basic requirement is a careful study of the existing possibilities, taking into account the preconditions of the various industries, the supply. transport and power requirements, the qualified labour demand and the marketing chances. while, in many Gases, such a study will no doubt come to the conclusion that it is not possible or economically advisable to locate the particular industries in rural centres, in some other cases the conclusion will most likely be that it is indeed possible to have this production located in rural areas as it would prove a benefit to the employment situation and to the overall economic development.