Unemployment Likely to Become a Major Political Issue in 2019

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Unemployment has been getting from bad to worse. Joblessness is even going to increase further in 2018 and 2019. As it stands today, things are set to worsen before general election 2019 to the extent that the government would find itself in a bind. Here’s a report for Different Truths. 

Unemployment in India is likely to become a major political issue in the months to come. It is bound to happen this time because our educated youths are now a frustrated lot as they were hoping something for themselves under the Modi-led NDA rule. It came to power in 2014 promising that unemployment growth that had been dragging the country for the last 10 years of UPA rule would soon be thing of the past. However, nothing like that happened. Unemployment has been getting from bad to worse. Joblessness is even going to increase further in 2018 and 2019. As it stands today, things are set to worsen before general election 2019 to the extent that the government would find itself in a bind.

Living without a job has made lives of millions of people in India most vulnerable to all sorts of sufferings and evils. ‘High priority to job creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship’ assured in the BJP manifesto is seen nowhere in action. The first two years were almost lost in ‘slogans and expression of intent of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The third year is lost in demonetization and GST. Work needed for the creation of 10 million jobs per years was left behind. The two major job giver sectors, the agriculture, and industries are not in a good shape. Their growth rates have just reduced to half.

Millions of our youths have already become overage because they did not get jobs in time. They have lost all the chances to get a quality job. The government is trying to pacify them by arguing that there are many jobs in the market which one can start as self-employment, and the government is ready to help them. Modi-Shah duo recently made an outrageous statement that even selling pakodas is a job. It was just insult to the injury. It is also a fact that getting help from banks and other administrative officials for self-employment is still a very difficult thing, and to get sufficient amount to sustain the ventures even more difficult. Moreover, self-employment is not the cup of tea for everybody. Millions of educated youth simply need jobs within our economic system or governance, which the government has failed to provide.

The BJP in its manifesto of 2014 had enumerated under the sub-title Employment and Entrepreneurship various ways to be adopted in case of their coming to power while denouncing that the country had been dragged through 10 years of Jobless Growth by the Congress-led UPA Government. Under the assured broader economic revival, BJP had committed to accord high priority to job creation and opportunities for entrepreneurship. However, due to the neglect of the government over 20,000 medium and small scale industries were shut down in the last four years due to financial constraint. Thousands of others are languishing.

The party had also promised to strategically develop high impact domains like labour-intensive manufacturing, viz textile, footwear, electronics assembly, and tourism. Traditional employment bases of agriculture and allied industries, and retail through modernisation as well as stronger credit and market linkages. However, there has been little progress in this regard. 

Upgradation of infrastructure and housing were to take up for their job-generating potential. Also promised was the transformation of the Employment Exchanges into Career Centres connecting our youth with job opportunities in a transparent and effective manner through the use of technology, as well as providing counselling and training. The government has managed to only launch a website for this purpose and nothing more. Since there are very few jobs in the formal sector of our economy, which employs only 7 percent of our total workforce, this website is also not able to help our educated youths.

Presently, 93 percent of the jobs is in the informal sector, out of which 49 percent are in the agriculture sector. According to a recent report of International Labour Organization, the number of jobless people is expected to increase to 18.6 million in 2018 and 18.9 million in 2019, as against 18.3 million in 2017. This figure applies only to the organized sector. The unemployment rate is estimated at 3.5 percent for all three years. In 2016, it was 5 per cent. It means the majority of the jobs created under the Modi regime were in the informal sector. Keeping this in view, ILO has remarked that a lot of jobs being created are of poor quality. Some 72 percent of the workers in South Asia, the majority from India, would have vulnerable employment by 2019.

Vulnerable employment, as per the ILO, is a measure of persons who are employed under relatively precarious circumstances and are less likely to have formal work arrangements, access to benefits or social protection programmes and are more “at risk” to economic cycles.

“Informality affects around 90 percent of all workers,” the report said. “Such a high incidence of informality is only partially driven by the high shares of employment in agriculture… In fact, informality also remains pervasive in the non-agriculture sectors such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food service industries,” it added.

When joblessness is seen in the backdrop of our 2.2 billion people living below the $2 poverty line, their predicament largely remains an untold story. Moreover, India’s labour force is growing by over 8 million per year. In the last four years we have given just about 8 million jobs, 90 percent of them were of very poor quality.

This situation has already started haunting our ruling establishment because it can potentially affect political fortunes.

Gyan Pathak 
©IPA Service 

Photo from the Internet

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