Top
Millennium Post

An impending national crisis?

An impending national crisis?

When the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), a private business information company, floated its report titled 'Unemployment Rate in India', the information was not very pleasant. India witnessed a steep rise in its unemployment rate, which soared at a 27-month high of 7.38 per cent in December 2018. Meanwhile, nearly 11 million people lost their jobs in 2018. 83 per cent of the total job losses were accounted in the rural sector which is two-third of India's populace. It is widely accepted that India is currently facing an unemployment crisis. The situation is in sharp contrast to the electoral promise of creating 20 million jobs every year, made by the ruling party back in 2014. While a private company has enriched us with gross data on unemployment, national surveys for some reason still falter. India's national sample survey office is yet to disclose official figures that appear to have been concealed with an eye on the upcoming general elections. Besides the credibility of the data released by CMIE, a more pertinent question is about whether there is a scarcity of jobs or just insufficient data on jobs. The latter would not be an issue if the former was not true. Nevertheless, World Bank disagrees with CMIE. It calculates that a 1 per cent increase in growth of India results in 5,40,000 more jobs on average, citing that India's employment rate has grown with its accelerating economy. The contrasting analysis of unemployment though can be affirmed by ground reality. Union Minister Piyush Goyal, dismissing CMIE's claims, opined how the data outrightly conflicted government records. This gives food for thought, particularly because our PM had said that adequate data is not available in an interview to Swarajya magazine. So, not only should we be concerned about contesting unemployment statistics – we also have to overcome the challenge of accepting an ambiguous measure of determining unemployment. One wonders how the government came to power in 2014 promising jobs and stumbled upon this 'inadequate job data' only towards the end of its five-year term. Of course, a number of policies by the Modi government on employment have focussed on self-employment, skill development, incentivising employers to facilitate employment generation and promotion of export-oriented manufacturing. Make in India, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Employment Generation Programme, etc., have all focussed on the aforementioned lines. Data on these schemes and their efficacy also has to be calculated to draw (and comment on) the conversion rate. Yet, we find ourselves at the crossroads of a steep rise in unemployment. Moving beyond the data impasse, the recent five-state elections also cited increased agitation due to unemployment rising amidst agrarian distress. 60 youth groups representing the educated unemployed and government job aspirants have now demanded the Centre to declare unemployment as a national disaster. They want the government to acknowledge the unpleasant situation and, only then, will they be able to address it; rather than basking in denial and blaming 'inadequate' data. Unanimously citing their dissent under the banner of Yuva Halla Bol, the groups passed a resolution on Sunday giving the Centre and state governments one month to address their demands for jobs, fair selection, exam code, etc. The warning by the youth collective is significant since about 65 per cent of the nation's population is under the age of 35. Moreover, in the upcoming elections, 133 million first-time voters will step into polling booths. Together, with their counterparts of 2014, they will account for about 300 million voters who can play a decisive role in the mandate's outcome. Youth must be heard before its dissent evolves to fury and eclipses the ruling party's hopes of a successful second-run. Now, the government can tend to this issue primarily by filling up the nearly 2.4 million vacant positions across different government bodies. Simultaneously, the problem of inadequate data has to be resolved. It is outright odd that a robust progressing economy has no adequate analysis of its jobs. Unemployment must be recognised as an extreme societal issue which will have dire ramifications unless properly addressed, that too in time. Ahead of the elections and interim Budget, job creation must take centre-stage as it encapsulates the concerns of a huge unemployed pool of youth who are believed to be drivers of a progressing economy. With automation, the labour market is about to be rocked, as has been cited by the various reports. Coupling that with the existing scenario does not augur well for the Indian market. Unless manifestos talk of substantiated roads towards job creation, they are futile. If unemployment lingers any further, people's outcry will turn the tables significantly and it will, indeed, become a national disaster, if it already isn't one.

Next Story
Share it