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Jobs on trees in Kerala and the ASER fine print

Published: Feb. 29, 2024
Updated: Mar. 29, 2024

THE coconut harvesters featured in this month’s cover story are a good example of how rural employment can literally be found on trees. In sharp contrast, millions line up for government jobs, either seeking favours or paying bribes and mostly ending up nowhere.  Clearly, it is a question of orientation. Policymakers have a responsibility to make it possible for people to see and seize the opportunities around them. When people prosper, so does the country’s economy.

In AI-driven times should people be climbing trees to have an income? There is a robustness and confidence, a sense of organization and more about the coconut harvesters. It is this that sets them apart and makes them more ready than others for a brave new world. What should be noted is that it comes to them naturally. They have an innate capacity to get their act together on their own. 

What if this spirit could be helped to shine more easily? Not just in Kerala but across India could people be helped to fire up their lives, get on with things. Remember, the coconut harvesters are in a state known for its educated unemployed. People with degrees waiting for jobs. The harvesters mostly have school degrees with some having completed graduation. Who knows, their earnings from shinning up coconut trees could help them pick up a better education, move on to other things. Life beckons for them. It’s written in their body language. Just see the pictures we have carried with the story.

The Annual Status of Education Report or ASER comes with several insights. Rukmini Banerji of Pratham, which generates the report, makes an important point when she says in her interview with us that India needs to figure out quickly what it needs to do with its youngsters between 14 and 18 years old. How can schoolwork be shaped to empower them for life ahead? How does one equip them to enter the world of work?

Is the UCC in Uttarakhand something to cheer about or should we be worried? A bit of both, Zakia Soman tells us in a heartfelt interview. She and her group have been asking for reforms within the Muslim community for a long time but a stubborn clergy has refused to yield. Soman also makes the point that a Uniform Civil Code should live up to its name by being national in nature. Gender justice should be at its core and there should be much wider consultation before provisions are framed. There are any number of legal minds who can usefully contribute to such a law.


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