Degradation of local natural resources, viability issues with traditional sectors like agriculture, increase climate vulnerability and changed aspirations are forcing people to shift to other livelihood opportunity. Secondary and tertiary sector livelihood opportunities have their own set of problems. Some of the major challenges in primary sector are the low productivity, environmental impact on land and water resources, lack of access to formal financial system, poor forward and backward linkages, institutional setup, technical knowledge and assistance, lack of storage and transport infrastructure, poor-ineffective corrupt delivery mechanisms etc. The organized sector is facing a shortage of skilled labour while the unorganised sector is full with migrant rural poor unskilled people willing to shift out of agriculture. Thus there is a huge investment required to build the skills of the workforce.
The last decade has seen a high growth rate of the economy. Evidence, both from field experience, studies and data, shows that the employment opportunities created is inadequate in spite of rapid growth. Although GDP growth has accelerated, it has not been accompanied by a commensurate increase in employment, leading to a worsening in the employment situation in the post-reform period. These considerations have led to a demand for greater attention to the employment objective.
Science and technology was an important instrument to develop livelihoods in various sectors. It has helped to improve productivity of primary sectors and entirely developed secondary and tertiary sectors. On other hand it has also contributed to some of the most pressing challenges of today’s era i.e climate change and resource depletion.
In last two decades various efforts were undertaken by government, NGOs and private sector to judiciously use science and technology for sustainable livelihood. Technology development was important area of interventions. Along with that efforts were made to develop delivery mechanisms and institutions for technology use. Science movements tried to popularise scientific temperament to understand science behind technology.
The challenge of the decade is then not just new jobs, but to make existing livelihoods generate more income, do so in a stable and sustainable manner. How science and technology will empower us to achieve so?
The topics selected for discussion during the conference are,