Unemployment crisis in India: Why BJP's 2014 election manifesto promising jobs has remained only a political document

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in its 2014 manifesto Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat promised to strategically develop high impact domains like labour-intensive manufacturing (viz. textile, footwear, electronics assembly, etc.) and tourism to enhance employment.

BJP, then in opposition, wanted to strengthen the traditional employment bases of agriculture and allied industries, and retail -through modernization as well as stronger credit and market linkages. The classy manifesto which was only a political document to be tossed in media boasted about harnessing the employment opportunities by upgrading the infrastructure and housing, and by empowering the youth for self-employment - incubating entrepreneurship as well as facilitating credit.

To the opposite, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), a central agency tasked with carrying out large-scale surveys, has found unemployment in the country at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent in a recent report.  "EPFO's real data shows a sharp increase in jobs, created in just the last 15 months," the official handle of BJP tweeted, referring to data from the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation.

NITI Aayog claimed that the variability between the computer-assisted data collection methodology and NSSO survey may arise, it further suggested to not compare the data sets. "EPFO data shows 4.8 million additional jobs have been created. The issue is just with high-quality jobs," NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant jumped to rescue the Modi government.

Unemployment crisis in India: Why BJPs 2014 election manifesto promising jobs has remained only a political document

Representational image. Thinkstock

It was quite humorous as well as shocking to observe Amitabh Kant taking names of private employers Ola and Uber to justify job generation and then polishing the justification with an appendage of qualitative employment. It is to be believed that the Modi government is unaware of the fact that among 93,000 candidates who applied for peon jobs with Class V eligibility in Uttar Pradesh were 3,700 PhD holders.

“I will not comment on the NSSO report. Don't force me,” said infuriated NITI Aayog V-C Rajiv Kumar. He further rued, "confusion is created by some who are using a draft report. If it is a draft report, it cannot be said that the government is not releasing the data.” Ok, let’s drop NSSO draft report and talk about something else, maybe?

Quarterly Quick Employment Surveys conducted by Labour Bureau during 2016 and 2017 observed that there was a sharp decline in the major sectors like health, education, trade, transport and construction. Health sector saw a decline from 0.33 lakh in 2016 to 0.02 lakh in 2017, education sector faced a reduction in figures from 0.51 lakh to 0.18 lakh over a year. Transport sector and construction sector saw an unprecedented decline from 0.17 and 0.23 lakh respectively to 0.01 Lakh.

According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment, State/UT-wise unemployment rate for graduates and above (aged 18-29 years ) in the country from 2015 to 2016 was staggering 18.4 percent. This is way higher than an average 6.1 percent pool what NSSO draft projects.

Two independent members of the National Statistical Commission have resigned after central government allegedly failed to publish a report on employment. Chairperson PC Mohanan’s resignation is drawing sharp speculations. The term of Mohanan and Meenakshi was to end in June 2020.

National Statistical Commission has seven members, three posts were already vacant, now leaving only Amitabh Kant and chief statistician Pravin Srivastava on the board. Now, Amitabh Kant has full opportunity to become India’s next PC Mahalanobis. NITI Aayog may also now work on scrapping Usual Principal Status (UPS) approach to calculate the unemployment rate so the blind public can be flooded with favourably inflated data.

Modi government in August last year strolled to the new series for GDP calculation with the base year changed from 2004-05 to 2011-12. For example, India’s GDP growth was displayed at 10.08 percent in FY07 under the back-series calculation, up from 9.57 percent estimated earlier.

When government faced backlash over this, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) released a statement saying that the committee used the production shift approach and came out with some experimental results to see how the approach compares with the earlier series. “Thus, estimates in the report were not official estimates and are meant only to facilitate taking a decision on the appropriate approach,” said the statement.

It now appears that it has become a common tactic of Modi government to deny wrongdoings in the garb of mid-stage experimentation. After all, Modi is a practical man.

The government has failed to set up the commodity-based farmers’ organisations such as Small Cotton Farmers’ Estates to annex decentralised production with centralised services such as post-harvest management, value addition and marketing, for facilitating institutional support and leveraging direct farmer-consumer linkage against NCF’s recommendation.

Where the public investment in agriculture-related infrastructure particularly in irrigation, drainage, land development, water conservation, research development and road connectivity etc. could be pushed, the government instead to fulfilling promises has terribly succumbed to the propaganda.

BJP is not worried about loan defaulters who have engulfed lakhs of crores but it is more interested in calling Congress’ loan waiver a political gimmick. It is true that loan waiver is not the permanent solution to the agrarian crisis but it it is certainly an immediate relief to many.

BJP’s 2014 election manifesto can be suitably termed a torus fracture if revisited today. Election manifesto insisted on reining in inflation by setting up a Price Stabilisation Fund and evolving a single National Agriculture Market among several other innuendos. In truth, it is shamelessness of BJP to ignore agrarian crisis for 4.5 years. If the Swaminathan Committee’s report is implemented, it may automatically resolve half of the job crisis in India.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2019 12:59:48 IST

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