On the one hand, Prime Minister Modi is claiming that India is going through a vast transformation, it is fastest growing economy, all over the world people are praising India, and so on.
On the other hand, Indians themselves are increasingly sceptical of all this drum beating. As a recently released survey by RBI shows rather starkly, 44 per cent people think that the economic situation has worsened while another 22 per cent think it is no different from earlier. That leaves only about 34 per cent feeling it has improved.
This dim view about the economy is not just a nebulous feeling. As the survey reveals, people’s perception about employment is highly negative with a record 45.5 per cent saying that job situation has worsened, while 19 per cent say it is the same.
On the question of prices, a whopping 88 per cent said that prices have gone up, compared to just three per cent saying that they have decreased. On incomes, 48 per cent said levels were the same while over 23 per cent said income had decreased. Over 78 per cent of people said that their spending had increased, mostly on essential items.
The survey reflects urban angst since it was carried out in 13 cities covering about 5,360 households. The sample size is not very big, but since it is the same cities and same size over the years, trends of disillusionment are sharp and clear. Known as the ‘Consumer Confidence Survey’, it is carried out every quarter.
The survey also asked people what they thought of the coming year – how will things be one year in future. Generally, it was felt that things will improve, but a substantial number were also saying that nothing will change. As far as the general economic situation was concerned, 53 per cent of those surveyed said it will improve next year.
Meanwhile, according to latest September data put out by CMIE, the jobless numbers stood at 6.7 per cent which is a high for recent years. This confirms the reason why RBI’s survey is showing such deep pessimism about jobs.
CMIE also released shocking figures for female labour participation rates which seem to have hit an all time low of a mere 10.65 per cent, during May-August 2018. As pointed out by CMIE’s Mahesh Vyas, this abysmal rate of female labour participation puts India at just above Yemen, which at 6 per cent, has the lowest rate in the world.
Contrast this to the euphoric gushings of Modi, Jaitley et al, according to whom ‘achche din’ have arrived already. Also, these figures contradict the highly dubious computations done by sarkari economists based on dodgy “payroll” data based on EPF or ESI enrollments.
It is small wonder that opinion polls are predicting a tough fight for the BJP in upcoming assembly polls to be held in November-December this year.