March 21, 2023

Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether the new iteration of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana will be a game-changer. We also look at the suspension of internet services in Punjab, among other news.


Will the PMKVY 4.0 be a game-changer?

India boasts of a demographic bulge of the working-age population. It’s a matter of confidence for any developing economy. If this population is productively employed, it will massively boost India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP could triple by 2030. But if playing this ace is missed, the expected demographic dividends could become an ailing appendage.

The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) addresses this opportunity. It aims to skill and provide employment to the country’s youth. The Centre will soon launch PMKVY 4.0. Some believe it can be a game-changer in boosting employment opportunities. But the scheme’s track record leaves room for doubt.


As of March 19, 2023, India’s unemployment rate is 7.45%, according to data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It means that 33 million people in India are willing and able to work but aren’t working.

There are other qualifications too. In India, the youth unemployment rate is higher than the national unemployment rate. It’s no secret that the COVID-19 years significantly bruised the labour force. The share of unpaid family workers continued to climb in 2022. Women faced higher job losses during those years, but their post-pandemic recovery has been rather sluggish.

Even within the working population in India, many educated youths spend decades waiting for jobs. Around 90% of the people work in the informal sector. It means they’re without social security and vulnerable to precarious work conditions.

From a macro perspective, it points to the lack of skills and training required for better-salaried jobs. There’s also the minor problem of blue-collar bias. Many Indians prefer to wait for white-collar jobs than to secure the blue-collar sector’s advantages.

The massive share of the informal economy also points to a lack of skill development and training within India’s working-age population. It deprives them of higher-salaried jobs and limits their prospects to the informal sector.

The problem is worse for women. In India, most women still can’t access quality education and vocational skills. Among those who do, it’s in gendered areas like tailoring, make-up services, and Mehendi application. There’s nothing wrong with these services, per se. The problem is that unequal education and misogynistic working conditions limit women to lower-paying jobs that offer more flexibility.

An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report suggests that unemployment and informal-sector jobs will increase in 2023. What can governments do, then? For starters, governments look to regularising the informal sector through labour reforms. They also amplify infrastructural spending to boost job creation. Or, they devise welfare schemes that hit the nail squarely on the head.

PMKVY was introduced in 2015 under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). It seeks to impart skill training and certification to the youth and meet industry demands.

It has two training components, Short-Term Training (STT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Under the PMKVY-STT, 53.89 lakh candidates have been certified, and 23.7 lakh placed. The three phases of the scheme have underperformed in many ways, but the new phase could be its saving grace. PMKVY 4.0 will train the youth in skills required for highly trained jobs.

VIEW: Lessons learnt

In the next three years, the government plans to train India’s youth in new-age courses like AI, robotics, mechatronics, IOT, 3D printing, and drones, as required by the blooming tech and automation industry, through the PMKVY 4.0. The new phase will be driven by industrial demands so that the skills people acquire make them employable in the current and future job markets. It means lakhs of Indian youth can learn new skills or upskill themselves.

The government is committed to making use of India’s demographic dividend. PMKVY 4.0 will ensure that Indians can transition from the informal sector to more secure, higher-paying jobs. The 2023 budget is a testament to this commitment. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated ₹1,12,899.47 crore to the Education Ministry. The FM announced that 30 Skill India International Centres would complement PMKVY’s new phase.

Lastly, several critics point to lower placement rates in the past phases of the PMKVY. But their numbers don’t account for the different objectives of the PMKVY-STT and PMKVY-RPL. The government ensures placement opportunities only for STT-certified candidates. The PMKVY portal shows that 54% of certified candidates received placements.

COUNTERVIEW: A broken record

PMKVY has a bad track record. Under Phase one, 19.86 lakh people received training and 18.4% were placed. Under Phase two, 109.98 lakh people received training and 23.4% were placed. Phase three saw 4.45 lakh people, of which 10.1% secured placements. The numbers don’t project the employability that the flagship scheme promised. Even if the government cannot ensure placements for RPL-certified candidates, the overall placement performance of all certified candidates is abysmally low.

Several problems within the PMKVY’s design can hinder the promises of the fourth phase. The past three phases saw 20% of enrolled candidates dropping out of the programme. The ones who stayed performed poorly on tests. One reason is that the maximum duration of the training programmes is three to four months when it should be a year. In the PMKVY’s vocational training programmes, the trainers are mostly private actors rather than registered employers.

The government’s commitment is not so robust. The MSDE, under whose aegis the PMKVY functions, saw its funds slashed in 2023. Proportionally, the PMKVY funds decreased. The Parliamentary Committee’s findings reveal that the funds released for PMKVY 3.0 were grossly underutilised. Only ₹294.98 crore were used out of the total amount of ₹686.02 crore PMKVY 3.0 funds. Irregularities in fund utilisation defeat the whole purpose of the scheme.

Reference Links:

  • Unemployment Rate in India – CMIE
  • 86% of women unwilling to migrate for jobs offering ₹12,000-₹15,000 – Mint
  • Modi govt puts focus on upgrading skills & tech, 3 new AI centres to come up – The Print
  • Placement Linkages for Certified Candidates – PMKVY Placement
  • Parliamentary committee questions functioning of PMKVY 3.0 – Economic Times
  • Skill India grounded: Problems plague technical training ecosystem – Frontline

What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)

a) PMKVY 4.0 will be a game-changer.

b) PMKVY 4.0 will not be a game-changer.


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Internet services suspended (Punjab) – The Punjab government has extended the suspension of internet services till the afternoon of March 21. The decision was taken as authorities continued their hunt for the Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh for the third day. On Saturday, officials suspended internet and SMS services which were extended till Monday afternoon. The reasoning given was public safety and to prevent any violent incidents.

Why it matters: Punjab police have arrested Daljeet Singh Kals, an alleged advisor and financier of Waris Punjab De’ chief Amritpal Singh. The chief of the pro-Khalistan outfit was declared a fugitive late Saturday after officials found out he was on the run. Punjab Police have launched a statewide manhunt for members of the group.

First transgender lawyer (Kerala) – Padma Lakshmi enrolled as an advocate with the state’s Bar Council and became Kerala’s first transgender lawyer. She was one of more than 1,500 law graduates who were given the Bar enrolment certificate. She graduated from Ernakulam Government Law College. State industries minister P Rajeev took to social media to congratulate her on the historic achievement.

Why it matters: She follows in the footsteps of other transgender persons in the legal profession. In 2017, Joyita Mondal became India’s first transgender judge after being appointed in the Lok Adalat of Islampur in West Bengal. In 2018, transgender activist Vidya Kamble was appointed a member judge in a Lok Adalat in Nagpur. That same year, India had its third transgender judge Swati Bidhan Baruah from Guwahati.

Avian survey (Odisha) – In a first for the state, a bird survey began at the Satkosia sanctuary in the Angul district to collect information on the different species of birds found there. 30 youngsters from Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Bihar have participated, with the survey ongoing till March 22. The eBird application will be used in the survey.

Why it matters: In the annual bird census, the head counts of only water birds are done. For Odisha, this is the first avian survey. Volunteers will update the information on the application. The state is home to Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, Chilika Lake, which houses thousands of migratory birds. Last year, there was a bird census of this lake covering 1,100 sq km.

Cow service commission (Maharashtra) – The state cabinet cleared a proposal to set up a commission to implement the 2015 law to ban beef and improve the condition of cattle. A draft bill will be placed before the state assembly this week. The Maharashtra Gau Seva Aayog will supervise livestock rearing and assess which are productive for milking, breeding, and agriculture work.

Why it matters: Under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Animal Act, 1995, cattle slaughter is illegal. State officials believe the cow population will increase with the beef ban. Haryana and Goa are the other two states to set up similar commissions. In 2018, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government proposed the commission but couldn’t go through with it due to objections from the finance department.

Surveying Rabha customs (Assam) – In the tribal regions of Goalpara and Karbi Anglong, animism followers have kept their ancient worshipping beliefs intact. An Indigenous and Tribal Faith and Culture (ITFC) team visited the regions to survey the places of worship and institutions keeping the customs alive. A new committee has been set up to preserve the animism rituals.

Why it matters: The hymns and prayers by animism followers have been passed on through the generations. There’s a concern that modernity may alter customs and rituals. The Rabha community is rooted in animistic faith, a belief in the supernatural power that animates the material universe, including plants and rocks.


$3.25 billion – Banking giant UBS will purchase its troubled rival Credit Suisse for $3.25 billion. Swiss authorities worked quickly as concern grew about the world’s banking system.