By Krishna Jha
Our economy is in shambles as growth without jobs goes up to 8.3 percent. Unemployment has been rated at 394.6 million, a fall in the employment availability by two million as the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) reports have revealed. In July, the unemployment rate was 6.8 percent while employment was 397 millions, reported CMIE. The urban unemployment, which is usually higher, was at about 8 per cent than the rural employment rate which is usually around 7 percent. In August Urban unemployment went up to 9.6 percent while rural unemployment was at 7.7 percent.
Unemployment left entire families without food. At least two hundred million people have no food security. In the countries where this basic essential to keep alive is scarce, India has the honour to have the largest number of people going hungry for days or surviving in famine conditions. In the ranking of global hunger index, 2017, it covers position 100out of 119 ranked countries with 31.4 percent food security situations which had been really grave. The problem has many serious dimensions.
Major among them is high prevalence of underweight children under five, a result of low nutrition and poverty among families. Despite the fact that National Statistical Office pointed out in its data released recently that our economy grew at 13.5 percent in the first quarter of the current financial year, the growth was studied taking a comfortable base line where there was a sharp fall in the economic growth due to pandemic in the first quarter of the last financial year. The Reserve Bank of India had also taken the same base line and came out showing the growth at 16.2 percent, over estimating without taking the context of the base line.
This also shows that despite a double digit growth, gross value added (which strips away indirect taxes and subsidies), has come out with a growth of mere 4.7 percent from first financial quarter of its pre-pandemic level, 2019-20. In agrarian sector, the value added in disaggregated data was 4.5 per cent in the first quarter of the financial year. The fall in GDP growth, falling number of opening in employment opportunities has brought the common masses to the brink. Among them are those that are either daily wagers or the self employed.
There is sharp rise among those who opt for ending life. Since 2014, the number of these daily wagers who slog to get an under paid job with long stretched working hours to keep the family at least alive, losing a job itself is falling in an abyss. Life gets doomed and gloom swallows everything that could be spelt as bliss. They enter a world of eternal darkness, without any other option except to end one’s life. Share of daily wagers among those who die by suicide in the country has crossed the quarter mark for the first time, according to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) — one in four of the recorded 1,64,033 suicide victims during 2021 was a daily wage earner.
In the report, “Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India”, it has been recorded that the daily wage earners remained the largest profession-wise group among suicide victims in 2021, accounting for 42,004 suicides (25.6 per cent).
There is a separate list for the daily wage earners, from those called Khet Majdoor, slogging in the fields, and have been grouped in a sub-category under the head “Persons engaged in farming sector”.
In 2020, too, daily wage earners accounted for the highest share, with 37,666 (24.6 per cent) of the 1,53,052 recorded suicides in the country. In 2019, before the Covid outbreak, the share of daily wage earners was 23.4 per cent (32,563) of the recorded 1,39,123 suicides.
The latest report shows that not only did the share of daily wage earners among suicide victims go up during 2021, the number increased faster than the national average.
In the suicide data the categories taken by the NCRB are under nine profession-wise groups: students, professional/salaried persons, daily wage earner, retired persons, unemployed persons, self-employed persons, house wife, persons engaged in farming sector and other persons. Among these groups, the highest increase of 16.73 per cent was recorded by “self-employed persons”:
While the number of suicides committed by “farmer/cultivator” has dipped, 5,579 in 2020 from 5,957 in 2019, those by “agriculture labourers” have risen sharply in 2020 to 5,098 from 4,324 in 2019.The overall share of “Persons engaged in farming sector” among the total recorded suicides stood at 6.6 per cent during 2021.
The “House wife” category accounted for 14.1 per cent of the total suicides during 2021, their number too increased by 3.6 per cent from 22,374 in 2020 to 23,179 in 2021.The report shows that the number of student suicides stood at 13,089 in 2021, up from 12,526in 2020. In 2021, the number of suicides by “retired persons” stood at 1,518 while 23,547suicides were recorded in the “other persons” category. (IPA Service)