ISSN 2330-717X

India: False Campaign On Increasing Joblessness – OpEd


Opposition political parties, “intelligentia,” “economic pundits” and a 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 scenario would indicate 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?

The critics are deriving what they consider as the 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 with the 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 on employment by different agencies,which conduct the survey among small samples and then extrapolate the data to reach vague and unreliable conclusion.

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 are employed 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 ground reality is that there are thousands of diploma and engineering graduates, arts and science graduates and under graduates passing out year after year who find it difficult to get jobs, as they do not have any particular skill in any trade. We see unemployed engineers and other graduates who seek only desk jobs and not skill oriented jobs in their field of study due to their lack of confidence. How many clerical staff that the country can employ?

In the last several decades in India, there have been poor planning at the national and state level in the education programs offered, where there is little stress on skill acquisition in trades but only general education turning out qualified graduates.

With the stress on quantitative expansion of education, there has been considerable fall in the standards and the educational institutions do not turn out employable people in adequate number, though they may have paper qualification.

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

Understanding this basic issue, Modi government strengthened the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and allotted several crores of rupees for skill development progam in various states. Thousands of people who have undergone such programs have found employment. Still, this number is not good enough and has not yet made adequate impact on national scale, due to very large and growing youth population in the country, which now constitute more than 40 percent of national population. The task is huge and challenging and Modi government has certainly been forging ahead with efforts. One has to keep in mind that this is not a problem that can be solved in just four years after having been neglected for several decades.

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.

The issue today is under employment and not so much unemployment issue, as many so called jobless persons do have job, though they may not be satisfied and consider themselves to be unemployed. There are thousands of persons whose name remain registered in employment exchange for ten years or even more. Can they live and survive without job and income for so many years?

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.

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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.

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