The Walk Free Foundation had mentioned in its report released in May 2023 that India topped in the list of the countries of the world with incidence of 11 million in modern slavery, with prevalence rate of 8 per 1000 people and rate of vulnerability at 56 per cent. Central Trade Unions have been opposing the controversial four labour codes of 2019 and 2020 out of fear that if they were implemented, workforce will be forced into modern slavery in even large numbers on account of their joblessness that has considerably worsened in the last 10 years.
The era of joblessness actually began with PM Narendra Modi came in power in 2014, with a promise of giving “work with dignity to all hands”. It meant 2 crore jobs annually, since this much number of people were entering the job market every year after completion of their education and training, and if not in education or training, after becoming of an age of 15 years. Narendra Modi had made unemployment an election issue at a time when unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent which was considered high. However, the unemployment rate in October 2023 reached 10.1 per cent as per CMIE data, and on February 12, 2024 at 7.7 per cent. It should be noted that Modi government does not provide the current data on labour and employment.
Unemployment is on account of lack of any National Employment Policy for the country, which was recommended in May 2023 in the 45th session of Indian Labour Conference, the top tripartite organisation on labour issues. Even 46th ILC has reiterated it in July 2015. No session has been held thereafter and Modi government did not frame National Employment policy. The nation could provide only 1.25 crore jobs during 2014-23, as against Modi’s assurance of 2 crore jobs every year.
In 2013-14, unemployment rate was estimated by Labour Bureau under Union Ministry of Labour and Employment at only 4.9 per cent under Usual Principal Status (UPS) approach. In rural areas it was 4.7 per cent and in urban areas 5.5 per cent. Male unemployment rate was 4.1 per cent and for female it was 7.7 per cent.
The Private CMIE data puts unemployment rate as on February 12, 2024 at 7.7 per cent, much higher than 6.8 per cent in January 2024, but less than 10.1 per cent in October 2023 and 8.7 per cent in December 2023, showing volatility in the job market.
The recently released government Periodic Labour Force Survey 2022-23 puts unemployment rate only usual status basis at 3.2 per cent, which always remain less than the current weekly status (CWS) data which is considered better, and it was 5.1 per cent, higher than the level of 2013-14. Unemployment rate on CWS basis always remained much higher than 10 years ago when PM Modi became Prime Minister. In 2020-21 unemployment rate was 7.5 per cent and in 2021-22 it was 6.6 per cent on CWS basis.
Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) was estimated at 52.5 per cent in 2013-14 under UPS approach, in other words that much people above 15 years of age were either working or seeking work. LFPR for rural areas was 54.7 per cent whereas it was 47.2 per cent in urban areas. Female LFPR was 25.8 per cent while it was 74.4 per cent for male.
PLFS 2022-23 noted that LFPR in usual status was declined to 42.4 per cent. LFPR for male in rural and urban areas were 55.5 per cent and 58.3 per cent while for female it was 30.5 and 20.2 per cent. On CWS basis LFPR was much worse at 40 per cent. LFPR for male was 55.4 per cent while for female it was 23.7 per cent.
Worker Population Ratio (WPR) was estimated in 2013-14 at 49.9 per cent under UPS approach, which means that much per cent of workers were employed. It was 52.1 per cent in rural and 44.6 per cent in urban areas. Female WPR was 23.8 per cent and male WPR was 71.4 per cent.
WPR in usual status in 2022-23 declined to 41.1 per cent. In rural areas for male it was 54 per cent and for female 30 per cent, while in urban areas for male it was 55.6 per cent and for female it was 18.7 per cent. On CWS basis WPR was much worse at 38 per cent. For male it was 52.6 per cent while for female it was 22.5 per cent.
To get the better picture of the employment we need to look into the data of workers distribution. In 2013-14, a total of 49.5 per cent workers ware self-employed followed by 30.9 per cent as casual labour. Only 16.5 per cent were wage or salary earners and the rest 3 per cent were covered under contract workers.
How quality of job deteriorated under Modi rule can be seen in the PLFS 2022-23 data of the government. Due to lack of jobs in the market people had no option but to do something of their own and thus percentage of self-employed people shot up to 57.3 per cent, many of them of course were unemployment in disguise. Self-employed males were 53.6 per cent while such females were 65.3 per cent. Employment as even casual labour deteriorated to 21.8 per cent while people on regular wage and salary were 20.9 per cent (many of them were put under contract or outsourcing). Agriculture supported 45.8 per cent of the labour, and situation has turned grim since this sector is likely to decelerate in the current year to 1.8 per cent of growth.
All these data indicate that the joblessness and working poverty have significantly increased in the last ten years of Modi rule which is by and large driven by the wrong policies adopted, that supported Corporates at the cost of workers. Informal jobs sans social security coverage have been on the rise, enforcing the workforce to accept jobs at very low wages, generating working poverty and modern slavery. (IPA Service)