Monster of unemployment

Seriously questioning the ceaseless claims of the Centre of ‘achievement’ in creating jobs and reducing unemployment, the dismal truth about the employment scenario can no longer be hidden. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi hit the nail hard on the head when he told a gathering of students in the Princeton University of New York that neither the UPA nor the NDA Government could meet the growing demand of the increasing army of job-seekers for employment. And that the people are getting frustrated and angry. He is right. Whenever the inconvenient question of employment generation is raised, official economists and statisticians, pastmasters in the arts of casuistry and sophistry, try to obfuscate the issue by starting hair-splitting arguments about seasonal unemployment, cyclical unemployment, disguised unemployment, under-employment, educated unemployment, technological unemployment, structural unemployment and what not. That may give some satisfaction to those defending the Government but it does not satisfy the hunger of the unemployed.
No reliable calculations, official or unofficial, have been made about the extent of unemployment caused in the informal sector by demonetization. It is the informal sector that provides jobs to the largest number and it is the informal sector that was hit the hardest by the demonetization decision. How many units were closed and how many lost their jobs? Nobody knows for sure. On the other hand, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has released its own statistics that puts the total number of unemployed persons in India at 17.7 million in 2016-17 and a higher, but unstated, figure for 2017-18. The ILO report ends on a pessimistic note: the Indian job market is ‘stagnant’ which is a euphemistic way of saying that new job opportunities are not being created.
This is what the ruling party’s promise of achhe din has turned out to be. Every month a million job-seekers are entering the labour market or 12 million a year. The Prime Miniser’s election promise of creating ten million jobs a year has remained just that: a promise. Meanwhile, farmers’ suicides are being reported from the States almost every day. The economic policy of the Government has eroded the income of the salaried class and the retired senior citizens by reducing interest rates on savings deposits as well as fixed deposits at a time when inflation is on the rise. These are the undeniable problems staring the Government in the face. If the people find it more and more difficult to make two ends meet, social unrest is inevitable. Propaganda about the country’s progress will evoke only disbelief and derision among the people.

Thursday, 21 September, 2017