Industrial revolution dating back to more than two centuries is attributed to aggressive new class of manufacturers employing machines and other practices threatening the survival of skilled artisans and their time-honoured trades. History provides a large number of instances of machine-based, instead of man-based, industries and their promoters degrading the dignity of the traditional trades as well as enterprises. Mysureans currently in their eighties would have witnessed many such instances during their decades of life-time. The factory system emerging with setting up of power-looms turned the skilled workforce to mere factory hands resulting in their life that was far from idyllic. The community of such workers driven to a dire situation of poverty and penury resisted unsuccessfully during the beginning of 19th century the march of technology-supported industries. What has happened subsequently is the romanticised saga of industrial progress all over the world, including India.
Thanks to the human innovative spirit, while technology has caused massive job losses marked by trauma over several decades since the time of industrial revolution, new work has always cropped up to provide new avenues for earning adequate income to both the investors and the labour force. The challenge is to address the limitless needs of human populations with new skills and technology.
In the wake of steadily shrinking headcount of the workforce engaged in agriculture on which nearly 70 per cent of rural households depend, in order to keep the tempo of finding employment to the growing mass of people, one has to look to three other major sectors namely, industry, trade and service, all of which together account for 85 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Taking the first sector, industry, comprising more than 40 million registered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and contributing 45 per cent to manufacturing sector, apart from providing employment to more than 80 million youth holds the greatest scope for keeping the population-jobs balance in equilibrium state.
The country’s manufacturing sector as dominated by large scale industries is guzzling areas of fertile land, polluting air through emissions, ruining rivers by letting effluents, generating residues in unmanageable proportions, offsetting all the economic benefits it is providing. In sum, MSMEs, according to knowledgeable circles, can obviate all these negatives of large industries.