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India: Ill-Informed Report On Joblessness – OpEd


A few political parties and section of media have been repeatedly saying that joblessness in India has increased enormously in the last four years, after Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India.

A careful study of the employment scenario in the country highlight the fact that the campaign on so-called joblessness is not backed by facts and data. Who has the figures with regard to the extent of joblessness in India today, if any?

The critics are largely deriving what they consider as the joblessness data from the number of people registered for employment in the government run employment exchanges all over India. The fact is that those registered with employment exchanges have to renew at periodical intervals and they renew even though they may not be actually unemployed. They seek government jobs in view of several comforts it offers, though they may be employed in private sector or self employed. When they renew the registration, they do not reveal their present job status correctly and employment exchanges do not have the practice of carefully verifying the present employment status of the persons who register for renewal with the employment exchange.

With the existing persons registered not deregistering themselves unless they get government employment and new people registering themselves year after year, the number of persons registered with employment exchanges soar and multiply year after year.

There are also periodical small size surveys conducted on employment by different agencies, which conduct the survey amongst small samples and then extrapolate the data to reach vague and unreliable conclusion . Such surveys and the conclusions cannot be considered as representative data to arrive at any firm view, as the sample size is too small , considering the level and density of population in the country and spread over large rural and urban areas.

The unorganized class is constituted largely by unskilled, semi skilled and skilled people, some of whom may be self employed and others working as daily wage labourers or contract labourers in several areas like agriculture, construction etc.

It is well known that the organized sector and the governments do not even employ 10% of the employable persons in the country and the remaining persons keep themselves occupied in the unorganized sector or self employ themselves. They too are employed persons who are productively occupying themselves and earn their living. This is what Prime Minister Modi meant when he said that a person selling “Pakkoda” (a snack item) and thus earning his income should not be considered as jobless person.

The fact is that there is no joblessness for skilled and semi skilled and even unskilled people in India today, who find employment somewhere or remain self employed.

While there is loud campaign on growing joblessness in India, many jobs go abegging due to want of suitable candidates.

We often hear about workers not being available for working in agricultural fields resulting in growing mechanization of agricultural farms. In towns and cities , it is not uncommon to hear complaints about electricians, carpenters or welders not being available to carry out small jobs in the households and in small factories.

It is now common to see employers and households saying that they are not getting people with adequate skill and knowledge to do various jobs and they often have to wait for several days to get the things done.

It is often reported in the media prominently when some private companies in the software or other sectors retrench the employees for whatever reasons. But, rarely any news are published about the number of people being employed newly in the private sector which is happening in a big way. In the case of public sector , it is extremely rare that anyone would lose the job whatever his level of efficiency and performance.

In today’s climate in India where negative campaign gets more publicity often without facts and substantiation, people go by hearsay and form their views. This is the problem while discussing the so-called joblessness issue in India.

It is well known and not disputed that India’s economy is growing at level of 6% to 7% of GDP every year. How can GDP growth take place without generation of wealth, greater output and larger activities in multi various fields including in farms , factories and services sector? Such growth has to necessarily be accompanied by growth in the job opportunities. The description of jobless growth is exaggerated and may be a catchy phrase for media but not true as far as the ground realities are concerned.

In a country with population of 130 crore and about 40% of the population being youth, if there would be really massive unemployment as alleged by some quarters, it would inevitably lead to riots. This is not happening since joblessness is not at alarming level as propagated.

Finally, it can be said confidently that those who remain unemployed today may remain so due to genuine problems like disability / blindness or poor health or due to lack of skill in any particular field or sheer laziness and depending for their living on someone else. We often hear about arts and science graduates and even engineers not getting jobs but most of them look for desk work and how many clerks that the country can have. They need skill.

Understanding this basic issue, Modi government strengthened the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and allotted several crores of rupees for skill development progamme in various states. Thousands of people who have undergone such programmes have found employment.

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N. S. Venkataraman

N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

One thought on “India: Ill-Informed Report On Joblessness – OpEd

  • March 7, 2019 at 5:54 am

    Mr. N.S.V., I fully agree with your views. I may add a few of my experiences. Whenever i travel I am of the habit to engage in conversation with the drivers, small shop owners, hotel staff etc. During 2018 I visited Kozhikode, Kannur, Edapal, Trichur and Trivandrum in Kerala. Each one was a different trip. I talked to at least 20/30 people falling in the above mentioned category of people; The answer was, Sir there are no dearth of jobs, but the youngsters – our sons and daughters are not interested in jobs, they find it easy to get Bank Loans of 50,000/- or 70,000/- after their graduation in one or other subject; they pool into small groups of two/ three and start their own business and in general are doing fine and happy. I think this is the situation all over the country. A substantial rapid expansion of self-created jobs and emergence of a large number of job-generators than job seekers has happened in the country during the last 2/3 years.


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