Small businesses are the backbone of any economy. There may be thousands of large scale industries in any country which may employ lakhs of persons, but if the micro enterprises are not in good shape, the economy is bound to suffer.
Micro, small and medium enterprises provide employment and economic opportunities to millions of Indians. It has been the lifeline of rural and semirural population.
History of MSME: For the last 50 years or so, there has been a massive shift in employment preferences. The youth of the country is either running after engineering degrees or after government jobs. This was not always the scenario. Let us take the example of Hooghly industrial belt.
For almost 100 years, this region was undoubtedly the most industrialized zone in India. There were large and medium scale factories making varied products. The large factories mainly jute, electrical and automobile, used to operate in this region. They employed thousands of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower. Apart from them, there were many ancillary industries operating in the districts of Howrah, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas, with Howrah being the market leader.
These ancillary factories made small fabrication work and other ancillary engineering works. Many were involved in repairs and maintenance jobs. Some worked as job workers. These business houses were mostly family owned, and they employed many people. People from the districts of Midnapore and other parts of Howrah flocked to Howrah to work for these small companies. The pay might not have been at par with those working for Jute mills, but the working conditions were certainly better!
These factories were not exactly MSME, but their organizational structure definitely makes them MSME.
Shifting focus on clerical jobs: The partition of India had a tremendous effect on the life and economy of Bengal. Bengal saw a huge number of refugees coming in from East Pakistan. The raw material for jute, the largest industry in East India went to Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and the factories remained here.
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