By Nitya Chakraborty
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been giving regular long interviews to the television channels and the national newspapers in the recent days and in all, he is skillfully trying to avoid the issue of demonetization impact and instead making the point that this” historic” step taken by him on November 8, 2016 helped in bringing about a transparent economy. He is saying blatant untruths on the impact of make in India programme and is keeping silent on the number of job losses during the last five years of his reign despite the devastating employment situation mentioned in a number of studies made by the reputable institutions.
The day the PM’s long interview appeared in The Times of India praising his step on demonetization and how it shaped in removing distortions in the economy, the same paper carried a report of a study done by the prestigious Azim Premji University which said that five million people lost their jobs during 2016 and 2018 coinciding with the period of demonetisation. The beginning of the decline in jobs coincides with demonetisation in November 2016, although no direct causal relationship can be established based only on these trends, adds the report.
The report has also found that in addition to rising unemployment among the higher educated, less educated workers have also seen job losses and reduced work opportunities since 2016.
The report on India’s labour market is based on the Consumer Pyramids Survey of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIECPDX). CMIE is a Mumbai-based business information company with an independent think tank. This survey is an ongoing nationally representative panel survey of around 1.6 lakh households and 5.22 lakh individuals, conducted every four months.
“In the absence of official numbers from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the only other household survey available for us to take stock of the employment situation is the Consumer Pyramids Survey of the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE-CPDX),” said Amit Basole, associate professor at Azim Premji University.
The report says that unemployment has risen steadily post 2011. “The overall unemployment rate to be around 6 per cent in 2018, double of what it was in the decade from 2000 to 2011. In addition to rising open unemployment among the higher educated, the less educated (and likely, informal) workers have also seen job losses and reduced work opportunities since 2016”.
Among urban women, graduates are 10 per cent of the working age population but 34 per cent of the unemployed. The age group 20-24 years is over-represented among the unemployed. Among urban men, this age group accounts for 13.5 per cent of the working age population but 60 per cent of the unemployed. In general, women are much worse affected than men. They have higher unemployment rates as well as lower labour force participation rates.
As against this, Prime Minister says in the ToI interview that demonetization and GST were being structural resets in the economy. ‘When changes of this magnitude occur, a temporary blip in growth is natural.’ He mentions that his target is to make India as a US$ 5 trillion economy. India is already one of the most attractive FDI destinations. But what about the job generation promises? Neither BJP manifesto nor PM interview mentions about promises about the number of new jobs.
Before 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi mesmerized the youth by his talk of a New India and the creation of 2 crore jobs per year. Instead of additional jobs, there has been a net job loss in the last five years and the PM is well aware of that. India can have a fastest growth rate without adequate job generation. This growth pattern only widens inequalities.BJP and the PM are sticking to this growth policy for Indian economy which will generate very few jobs and help in concentration of wealth in a few hands.
The country needs a new growth narrative and to a great extents that has been reflected in the Congress manifesto this time. The Left parties, the CPI and the CPI(M) have also brought out their Lok Sabha election manifestos reflecting the concern of the common people and highlighting the demands of the farmers and the workers. As the second phase of the Lok Sabha poll nears, it is imperative that the Indian voters take into account the real issue and decide on their assessment about the capability of the contenders to implement them. The Congress and the non-BJP opposition have a big task in campaigning among the people about the need for a growth model that will generate jobs and help in redistribution of wealth. BJP led government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed on that count.