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Over 11% decline registered in people engaged in agriculture & allied activities during last decade
The number of people dependent upon agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood has come down from over 60 per cent to 49 per cent during the last decade i.e. between 1999-2000 and 2011-12, signaling a prominent shift in the rural job profile with significant reduction in proportion of workers engaged in agriculture and an increase in secondary and tertiary sectors, self-employment and in regular work, according to a recently concluded Assocham study.

“The number of people employed in secondary and tertiary sectors have grown significantly from about 16 per cent and 23.5 per cent in 1999-00 to about 24 per cent and 27 per cent respectively as of 2011-12,” according to a study titled ‘Structural Shift in Rural Employment’ conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

“The rural employment pattern has undergone massive change and these changes are likely to continue in future as they are driven by high level of public and private investments in rural areas and also trickle down impact of investments in agriculture itself,” said D.S. Rawat, secretary general of Assocham while releasing the findings of the chamber’s study.

“The shift away from dependence on farm related jobs towards acquiring other skills and engaging in self-employment, trade and services should be encouraged as it would help intensify financial inclusion in rural areas and contribute to national growth,” said Mr. Rawat.

The number of people employed in agriculture sector have declined from about 261 million in 2009-10 to 231 million as of 2011-12, highlighted the Assocham study.

While the number of those employed in manufacturing sector have increased from about 55 million in 2009-10 to about 66 million in 2011-12, the number of people engaged in mining has increased by one million, while of those employed in construction sector have almost doubled and those in services sector have also increased by about 17 million, it added.

Improved rural incomes together with high retention of girls in middle and higher schools, larger percentage of remittances from men folk working in urban and semi-urban areas signaling an overall improvement in rural socio-economic system has lead to a fall in number of working rural women in India which dropped from over 126 million in 2004-05 to about 106 million in 2009-10.

In its study, Assocham has suggested the government to continue to emphasize employment entitlement scheme under MGNREG and push for greater mechanization of farm operations and it must also encourage shifting of farm labour to other vocations including self-employment and training to acquire semi-skilled or skilled qualifications.

Assocham has also suggested the government to raise the levels of public investment in rural infrastructure, education and skill development.

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