PM Modi Can Take a Page Off Indira Gandhi’s Job Data Reports

PM Modi Can Take a Page Off Indira Gandhi’s Job Data Reports

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Video Editor: Varun Sharma

During 1973-74, the country was gripped with an employment crisis. The unemployment rate in rural areas was 6.8percent while in urban areas it was 8 percent. The Indira Gandhi government was in power back then. The then economic survey said:

“The total number of job seekers on the live registers of the employment exchanges rose from 56.88 Iakhs at the end of June 1,972 to 75.96 lakhs at the end of June 1973, an increase of 33.5 percent. The number of educated job seekers rose to 35.29 lakhs at the end of June 1973 from 26.11 lakhs a year earlier (an increase of 35 percent). Out of this increase of over 9 lakhs, West Bengal accounted for 2.4 lakhs, Bihar for 1.9 lakhs and UP and Maharashtra for almost one lakh each.”

It went on to say, “There is no other aspect of our development experience which is a matter of greater concern than the failure to generate sufficient employment opportunities. The sharp growth in the number of educated job-seekers during the year is to be particularly regretted because this represents a waste of capital that the nation has invested in education.

Govt in Denial Mode Despite Data Suggesting Serious Employment Crisis

But that was then. Now, in the face of several reports, including the one from the government’s own National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), suggesting a serious employment crisis, the government is in denial mode. We are staring at a severe job crisis despite record food grain production, bulging FOREX reserves, healthy tax collection, very benign global crude environment, and decent domestic and global growth.

Questionable Data to Support ‘Job Expansion’ Claims

In the face of such damning reports, the government’s response has been laughable. While speaking at the Lok Sabha on 7 February, Prime Minister Modi quoted several numbers to suggest a healthy pace of job creation during his tenure. Here are some:

  • National Pension Scheme (NPS) now has a subscriber base of 1.2 crore, up from mere 65 lakh in March 2014. By quoting this number, he implied an additional job creation of nearly 60 lakh as indicated by this figure alone. When did an investment-cum-pension scheme, which is what NPS is, become a barometer of jobs addition? Is investing same as getting a job?
  • A report by The Times of India quotes PM Modi as saying that the purchase of 36 lakh commercial and 1.5 crore passenger vehicles since 2014 suggests rapid addition of jobs since he became the Prime Minister in May 2014. According to Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the sale of commercial vehicles stood at nearly 8 lakhs in 2012-13. We could surpass the number only in 2017-18. Is this an admission that first three years of his tenure created fewer jobs? On the sale of passenger vehicles, the level achieved in 2012-13 was surpassed in 2015-16.

PM sir, suggesting job expansion with the help of such data amounts to insulting all those who are well-qualified to get decent jobs. The least you can do is accept the failure like what Indira Gandhi – yet another very mazboot leader like you – did four decades ago. An acknowledgment of the problem is the first step towards solving it. Blatant denial in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary means brushing the issue under the carpet.

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