Today’s progress in job generation

Nitya Chakraborty

More than 34 months after the installation of the Narendra Modi Government at the centre, the employment generation scenario in the country has turned pathetic with no signs of concrete programmes of job generation to employ the lakhs of youth who are joining the new workforce every year, fresh from schools, colleges and the technical institutes. On the other hand, the existing job opportunities are shrinking leading as a result of lay-offs and job cuts in both organized and unorganized sectors. In addition to this, the Hindutva policies of the BJP led Centre and the state governments have led to the closure of thousands of meat shops in different states leading to the job losses for the poor most of whom belong to the minority community. Overall, the employment scenario is grim though the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is talking of more than 7 per cent growth in economy and the Prime Minister is boasting of Digital India.
A jobless growth strategy has been adopted by the Modi government and that is coming out in the recent official reports also. Only 0.5 per cent jobs were added in eight key non-farm sectors between April to September 2016, according to a recent government report. Considering that these eight sectors together employ over two crore workers, the net addition during the six month period was only one lakh and this is a very worrisome aspect of the economy. The report in question is the third quarterly employment report which was revamped by the government last year with new sectors included and a larger sample size of 10,000 establishments.
The first report released last year, set the baseline of employment as on April 2016. The report shows that employment is not only moving at a painfully slow pace but also that aggregate figures hide more severe distortions. For instance, almost three quarters of 1.09 lakh new jobs added were confined to two sectors- education and health which added 62,000 new jobs. But the manufacturing job grew by only just 12, 000 jobs in six months -- 0.1 per cent. The manufacturing sector is the backbone of the non farm economy and employs nearly 50 per cent of the workers in the designated eight non-farm sectors. This sector has been the focus of Make in India and Skill India programmes, the favourite propaganda medium of the Prime Minister. The stark reality is that the manufacturing sector is suffering and instead of new job generation, jobs are being lost.
Prime Minister is talking of New India, technology and digitally driven India but fodoing that, the Government has to be ready with huge alternative job opportunities for those who will be driven out of the job market as a result of digitalization and automation. Latest studies have shown that by 2021, 4 out 0f every 10 jobs globally would be lost because of automation and of these one in every four, will be from India. That sums up 23 per cent of the job loss in India in the concerned industries to be affected by automation. Automation is the new normal in sectors like engineering, manufacturing, automobiles, IT and banking. As automation adoption increases in the Indian industries, all high transaction and labour intensive jobs will be hit. Has this Government any plan to deal with this new joblessness by 2021?
India produces 5.5 million jobs every year, but this number falls short of the requirements and now automation will make the employment market further stiff after four years. Five years ago, 1500 workers were required in assembly shop for a particular job, that has come down to 500 now for the same job and with high scale automation in offing, the number will go down drastically. Most of the workers affected will be young and the Government and the companies have to organize their reskilling and new employment.
A new threat to existing job position in the telecom sector is the series of mergers for consolidation. Industry experts say that the telecom mergers will lead to heavy job cuts in the companies and according to one estimate, one third of the jobs in the telecom sector will be redundant. The same will happen in the banking industry following the merger of the associate banks of SBI with the parent company. The information technology sector is still living with apprehensions about the policy of the US government on the outsourcing. The new hiring has slowed down in the IT sector and if some bad news comes from USA, there will be serious repercussions on the job position in the IT industry as the managements are not ready with alternative plans to meet the crisis if it takes place.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared his vision of a New India in his victory speech after sweeping the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.” The poor want a leg up -- not a hand out’, he said. Yes, the poor want jobs but where are the jobs and viable programmes for creating new jobs? India is a country of1.25 billion population and this country needs a specific job creation strategy taking into account its own strengths and weaknesses. The talk of Digital India and New India must be accompanied by a vision of an inclusive India which will provide jobs to poor and unskilled in all parts of the country through a comprehensive job generation programme. (IPA)

Thursday, 6 April, 2017