Nearly five centuries ago, Agra was the commercial nerve center of the prosperous Mongol empire. Thanks to the monuments built by kings and emperors, including the Taj Mahal, this Uttar Pradesh was just a little more than a tourist station.
But, almost unnoticed, Agra has come to illustrate another economic revolution. Despite its dilapidated state and civil infrastructure, it has become a center of Original Entrepreneurs of India new opportunities in the service sector. The impact of these opportunities was that by the end of 2004, until the data became available, more than six out of 10 people were now working alone, compared to just five years earlier.
Agra is just a showcase for a new generation of second-tier Indian cities outside the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata regions, which have begun to enjoy the benefits of India’s economic growth of 8% over the past four years.
A five-year comprehensive government survey places the city of Agra behind Varanasi as a city of more self-employed workers, followed by Bhopal, Indore and Pattna. A few years ago, Agra was not in this picture with Varanasi, Patna, Pune, Lucknow and Kolkata among the five largest cities in terms of independent men.
As a result, apart from 40% of the population who rely heavily on agriculture, and some still depend on the traditional works of leather, footwear and iron foundries, most people in Agra now work in professions as “self-employed”.
According to the National Organization for Sampling Survey, in 1999-2000, 431 of every 1000 workers were self-employed in the city. This increased to 603 per 1,000 in 2004-2005. At the national level, the number of self-employed persons has also increased, from 368 to 395 per thousand, and nowhere in Agra and in many similar cities.
Kids new genius
Tell people like Yatendra Singh, 21 years old. When he graduated from the local university in 2005, he never imagined that in less than three years he would share ownership of two Internet cafes. “The Internet started to take off in Agra, I would have survived another way, but maybe I would not run an independent company,” he says.
The Internet boom came a bit later to lure to Delhi or Mumbai, but now it is within walking distance of the small Singh vault in the Bodhla-Flint Road, and the entry from Agra Sikandra. It marks the burial place of the great Mongol emperor. The surrounding area has been rebuilt to meet demand for housing. “At least eight Internet cafes, big or small, have appeared since 2004 in this area,” says Singh. Pigters also dry cleaners, public providers of telephone calls, real estate brokers and mail delivery shops, all in the midst of busy, packed with motorcycles and Street Entrepreneurs of India.
It seems part of the reason that Agra moved to free work to be better connected with Delhi and neighboring countries. It is building a new fast track to connect it to Noida near New Delhi, while the city government is reaffirming its position on the metro system. It also has the distinction of being one of only five cities in a very large state, apart from Varanasi, Merot, Lucknow and Kanpur. All these qualities seem to make Agra the perfect service center, despite low industrial activity. Big Brother Singh, Krapal, for example, is now juggling between Agra and Noida, a five-hour drive, and setting up his second Internet cafe family in the electronics city.
At the same time, the government expect UP residents of Agra city by 3.84% per year to reach 2.20 million in 10 years and 2.7 million for 2031.
This, for the state administration, can only mean that Internet cafes, post offices, taxis, hotels, education centers and realtors will continue to snowball.
“We are growing very rapidly and the city is changing.The only way to adapt to these changes is to find new forms of employment through investment and modernization of the city,” says Ashok Kumar, commissioner of Agra.
As Commissioner, Kumar is the Managing Director of Agra, responsible for monitoring development programs and the planned government. “A great deal of self-employment now comes from occupations that either did not exist a decade ago or were small,” he says.
The increase in self-employment is evident throughout the country, although analysts differ on what it means. Arvind Fermani, chief economic adviser to the Planning Committee, planning for the country’s most important agency, says the transition to free labor suggests a part of the eventual shift from unskilled labor to skilled farming and manufacturing jobs.
Free work is the usual way of working as it rises in the value chain from agriculture to industry, Fermani wrote in a 2006 paper on employment and equitable growth of the Commission. “The fact that the ultimate change to more skilled jobs in manufacturing already occurs in India depends on other factors, such as skills development and more rational labor laws, to encourage employment in the industry,” he says. .
But Arjun Sengupta, a member of parliament and a former member of the Planning Committee, sees in the direction of self-employment, a decline in farm wealth exacerbated by delayed industrial activity.
“This needs attention: we must promote industrial activity and increase agricultural productivity to stimulate better paying jobs that have decent conditions,” he says.
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Opportunities in abundance
Analysts say the increase in self-employment shows a change in the way the Indian economy works. “The increase in self-employment shows that people are finding work outside the traditional sectors,” said Duncan Campbell, Director of Policy Integration at the ILO.
The new opportunities mean that many have been able to influence the career change they did not expect.
Take Rajendar Yadav, 25, who is already a veteran of the city’s traditional industry: shoes. In 2002-2003, when the city’s exports of shoes reached $ 350 million (Rs.1,435 crore), Yadav decided to leave his well-paid job as a production manager at Superhouse, a shoe exporter.
By 2005, he established himself in a new role as an independent shoe and accessory manufacturer within Agra, Delhi, Noida and Chennai. A recently settled businessman. He now buys leather-making machines and sells many things, such as embossed beads, to five regular customers.
“What is the point of continuing to work for others while all the commercial sectors of the city thrive?” Yadav said in his office, a room furnished on the roof of his two-story house in Awas Vikas. New colony. Developed by the Agra Development Authority since 1999. It seems that most of his work is carried out through his mobile phone.
Yadav represents the changing employment pattern that is being revealed in Indian cities. The survey data reflect this trend in 29 first-tier cities with a population of more than 1 million, including Hawara in the east to Kalyan-Dumbili in the west and Hyderabad in the south to Lodiana in the north.
The owner of the Internet cafe and the bleeding-skin worker are the top end of the self-employed: they also understand employers. However, the largest proportion of self-employed workers in the country are so-called domestic workers, self-employed or who produce a contractor / subcontractor, part of a long value chain. According to the 1999-2000 surveys, there are about 29 million households dependent on this industrial work. While many are women, Agra today has the second highest proportion of self-employed men in India, after Varanasi, where 757 of the 1,000 workers were self-employed in 2004-2005.
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