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BJP Alleges Unemployment in Bengal, But Data Proves Otherwise

Recent data shows that Bengal’s unemployment rate is lower than that of India, and has employed 135 lakh in MSMEs

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Politics
4 min read
BJP Screams Unemployment in Bengal, But Data Proves Otherwise
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West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee retaliated against many of the allegations levelled against her by the Bharatiya Janata Party, as she addressed a rally at Chinsurah.

One of the primary issues that the BJP is attacking the West Bengal government and subsequently the Trinamool Congress is the lack of job opportunities in the state. They have often criticized the ruling party by saying that the locals are migrating to other states in search of jobs.

Banerjee while speaking at the rally spoke about how Bengal is one of the leading job providers in the MSME sector, and that Bengal has also managed to curb unemployment.

Even in her previous rallies, she has often talked about how Bengal is ahead of BJP ruled states when it comes to providing jobs...and well, she is not wrong.

The latest numbers show that the state of unemployment in the state is not as bad as how the opposition party puts it. In fact, it’s much better than that.

According to December 2020’s Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, the unemployment rate in West Bengal jumped from 17.4 per cent in April-May to 6 per cent. This was 0.2 per cent higher than December 2019’s rate and also higher than the country’s average unemployment rate which stood at 7.6 per cent.

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The 2019-2020 MSME ministry’s report too showed that West Bengal employed 135.52 lakh people in 88.67 lakh units. All of this while the state faced two of its worst crises in recent times in the form of the Coronavirus pandemic and cyclone Amphan.

Meanwhile, the BJP recently withdrew a campaign which was aimed to provide ‘job assurance’ cards to 75 lakh youth in West Bengal if the party came to power. BJP State President Dilip Ghosh clarified saying that the card was intended to ‘measure the level of unemployment in the state and later design an employment policy’.

West Bengal’s MSME Push

AITC tweeted on 14 January saying ‘WB has emerged as one of the TOP performers in the MSME Sector, with 88L+ MSME units & employing 135L+ people!’. This data was taken from the MSME Ministry’s annual report of 2019-2020

If put in comparison with other states, West Bengal actually finishes second, behind UP when it comes to the state-wide distribution of MSMEs in the country and number of people employed. However, both states share the same percentage of MSMEs in the country.

State-wise division of MSMEs
State-wise division of MSMEs
(Photo: MSME Annual Report 2019-2020)

As BJP state president Dilip Ghosh has constantly reiterated implementing the Gujarat model in the state if the BJP comes to power, the same study shows that Gujarat had employed 61.16 lakh people in 33.16 MSME units. Meanwhile, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh employed 53.07 lakh people in 26.74 lakh units, and 48.8 lakh people in 34.46 lakh units respectively.

State-wise division of number of people employed in MSMEs
State-wise division of number of people employed in MSMEs
(Photo: MSME Annual Report 2019-2020)
Didimoni [Mamata Banerjee] often says we [BJP] are trying to turn Bengal into Gujarat. I say we will certainly do so and turn it into a developed State. Our men and women won’t have to go there for work. We will ensure employment opportunities are available here
Dilip Ghosh, BJP State President 

However, Bengal tops the list in employing the most female workers in MSMEs at a staggering 2901324, which is 1616061 more than runner-up Tamil Nadu. Female MSME owners top their male counterpart in Bengal by almost 12 per cent.

Female MSME owners by state
Female MSME owners by state
(Photo: MSME Annual Report 2019-2020)

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has put a strong focus on MSMEs since coming to power in 2011, by not only setting up new units but also developing the old ones. MSMEs have also played a crucial role in pushing Bengal’s GSDP by 2.7 times from 2011.

MSMEs also played a crucial role during the COVID pandemic by continuously manufacturing masks and PPE kits for frontline workers.

“No Jobs in The State...”

Contrary to allegations by opposition parties, Bengal’s unemployment rate actually dipped from 6.2 per cent in December 2019 to 6 per cent in December 2020. It must also be noted that this figure had increased to 17.4 per cent during the months of April-May 2020 or during peak lockdown.

Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate dipped from 7.6 per cent in December 2019 to 9.1 per cent in December 2020, clocking a six-month high in December. India's unemployed count rose to 38.7 million in December compared to 27.4 million in November, registering an increase of 11.3 million.

In June 2020, India’s unemployment rate stood at 10.22 per cent.  

Despite facing the COVID pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, along with the massive damage caused by cyclone Amphan, the state has managed to reduce its unemployment rate. Experts have attributed this to the state’s economic policy, and creation of jobs under the MNREGA scheme as well as her focus on MSMEs. The MNREGA scheme has created over 30 crore man-days.

When put in comparison with other states, Bengal fared better than most of them. Uttar Pradesh saw an increase from 9.4 per cent in December 2019 to 14.9 per cent in December 2020, and Assam from 0.9 to 7.6 per cent in the same time period.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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