Millennium Post

Jobs and the prime minister

The promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Independence Day speech to create jobs, in ordinary circumstances, would have been lapped up by the people. However, given his government’s poor track record, the promise has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

We need to create about five and half crore additional jobs in the next three years to maintain the ratio between employed persons to the total population at 39 per cent. The prime minister, during his speech, said that the National Skill Development Council has formulated a major scheme for skill development in which eight crore people will be trained in the next five years. He said that it was necessary to train people in skills which our economy needs. The prime minister and his government, however, in the past eight years have failed to diagnose ‘the needs’ which could have kept our economy in a vibrant state. Like a good theorist, the prime minister did chart out what all could be done to create job opportunities. He enumerated encouragement to industry and trade, speedy improvement of infrastructure with investment from private sector in the areas of road building, airports, railways, electricity generation and coal production and also attracting foreign capital by creating confidence at the international level that there are no barriers to investment in India. But the prime minister but did not delineate in his address how was he going to implement what he had enumerated.

During the years 2005-2010, the period covering majority of his first tenure as prime minister and a part of the second tenure, the Manmohan Singh government could create just about 2.75 crore new jobs. This, however, did not accrue to as much net increase in employment as the number of those self-employed came down considerably during the same period with the net new employment remaining around just two crore. Given the poor track record, the economist prime minister must realize that the targets he sets for his government can be achieved only if he takes the initiative to have on board, if not the Opposition, at least his allies. To help end the policy paralysis in his government, Manmohan Singh needs to show statesmanship to give a better meaning to the word coalition dharma. In absence of such statesmanship, the economic crisis would continue and the number of unemployed will go up causing indeed a security threat to his government.
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