The number of employed persons in India fell from 408.4 million in January 2017 to 397.5 million in July 2018, a loss of 10.9 million (just over one crore) jobs in about one and a half years, according to latest CMIE data. This comes after months of data-football with the govt. coming out with a slew of numbers from diverse - and mostly dubious - sources to show a rosy employment picture and critics pointing out the errors in them.
The CMIE data, collected through a sample survey, shows a seasonal cycle with employment declining in the first half of the year and rising in the second half. This is related to the lean summer months that fall in the first half of the year. However, despite this, employment in July 2018 was 5.7 million less than one year ago in July 2017. This shows that things are going downhill.
It needs to be remembered that the working age population grows continuously and inexorably. For example, CMIE estimates that between June 2017 and June 2018, a whopping 24.9 million fresh persons would have joined the working age population (+15 years). Even if one assumes that only half of them were ready to take up jobs (the remaining are women who are not working or students, etc.) this means that about 12.45 million persons were added to the job seekers army in one year.
Since there is no growth in jobs – in fact a decline – the gross number of unemployed is steadily growing. All the claims of the govt. of creating jobs by self-employment (Mudra loans etc.) or formal sector openings (EPFO data) even if true will not solve this problem. In fact, with govt. claims mostly being flimsy, the situation is well beyond ‘crisis’ levels.
What the govt. is failing to – or refusing to – realise is that creation of jobs can only take place through massive investment in both agriculture and industry. Since private sector investment has been very weak for months now, the only way out is for the govt. to increase public investment in a big way. This would not only create jobs, it would push up demand too. It would also create conditions for private sector to start investing.
However, the Modi govt. has been revealed as a slave of the discredited neo-liberal dogma that govt. should cut its investments allowing an increasing role for the private sector. This fatal idea – and Modi’s obstinate commitment to it – has led India into this crisis.
Meanwhile, agriculture continues to be in the grips of a crisis of epic proportions. Even as production keeps growing, farmers’ incomes and agricultural wages continue to stagnate or slump. This pushes more and more people into the job market worsening the already dire situation. Evidence of farmers’ distress was visible in the farmers’/labourers’ demonstrations held in over 400 districts on 9 August demanding loan waivers, increase in harvest prices and better wages.
Given this shocking job crisis, it is small wonder then that 30 million (3 crore) youth applied for about 98,000 jobs advertised by the Indian Railways earlier this year. In the most recent round of online exams for this recruitment drive, 4.7 million (47 lakh) aspirants travelled across the country to 440 examination centres. Special trains had to be organised from Bihar to ferry these desperate youth to various centres.
But Modi Sarkar continues to fiddle away merrily, indifferent to the tragedy unfolding in front of their eyes. In fact, Modi and Amit Shah are busy putting into action their plan for the general elections next year. Will the distressed job seekers, who remember the tall promises of creating 1 crore jobs, trust Modi & Co. again?