Unemployment Can Become the Bane for Modi’s Bid to Office in 2019
Unemployment is one of the biggest issues being faced by the administration and policy makers in India today. In a young and rapidly educated economy like India, the creation of jobs to absorb the rapidly expanding workforce pool is of paramount importance. Otherwise, the young and impatient youth’s restless energy will send the country into a descent into chaos.
But the government so far seems to be apathetic to this alarming social and economic reality. A report by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University puts the current employment rate in India at its lowest in twenty years with the rate of unemployment being at a distressing 5%. The youth are the section worst affected by unemployment with the rate of unemployment among youth being an alarming 16%.
Rampant unemployment combined with depressed wages is dragging more and more people into destitution. The State of Working India (SWI) report 2018 has stated that about 82% of men and 92% of women in the country earn less than INR 10000 every month. The latest updates on 2019 elections point to employment as being one of the key issues in the upcoming general elections.
The report notes that though unemployment has been a persistent problem for the Indian economy for many years, it has often been disguised as seasonal unemployment (where people are out of work during the seasons when crops are not being grown) and low wages(being paid below the minimum wage set by the government). But for the first time, unemployment is out in the open with people without jobs in the working age in India being over 5% of the total population. What is even more alarming is the high rate of unemployment among the highly educated. The problem is particularly severe in states in Northern India. Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Gujarat are exceptions to this trend.
The past few decades have seen a greater focus on education. The rate of enrolment and completion in schooling has seen an increase, and so has the rate of people completing graduate degrees. As a result, more and more educated people are entering the workforce. But, a corresponding number of jobs have not been created to absorb this potential workforce. This has resulted in an increase in unemployment rates in the country.
The quality of education is also a cause of concern with many employers stating that only about 1% of the students graduating each year are employable. This means that employers have to not only invest in the work of their employees but also train them for the same work first.
A very important signifier of growth provided by the government of India is the minimum wage threshold or living wage. The seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC) has recommended that the minimum salary that an Indian should be paid be INR18000. But, 67% of Indian households fall short of this minimum wage parameter. This shows that most employers are not even paying the living wage to their workers in India. This data is as true for the organised sector as it is for the unorganized sectors.
The female Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has also been on a decline for the past few decades with rising education and falling reliance on human labour for agricultural purposes.
India is the fastest growing economy in the world posting a growth rate of over 7% in GDP every year. But worryingly, this growth in GDP has not resulted in a commensurate increase in job creation.
As is evident from the data available through this report and similar others, unemployment is a major political issue and all parties will be focussing on this issue in the upcoming elections.
The latest updates on 2019 elections indicate that the BJP will be relying on its development plank to consolidate its vote share for the coming elections while the Congress will be rebutting with the falling employment rates and increase in sectarian violence as its poll manifesto. Employment and development were the main poll promises made by the BJP before coming to power in 2014. Prime Minister Modi had promised to create 2.5 crore jobs every year and the restless, unemployed youth had found great appeal in this promise. But four years down the line, little seems to have changed on the ground. A survey conducted by ABP news, Loctite and CSDS called Mood of The Nation survey has revealed much disillusionment among the public regarding job creation by the current government, with lack of jobs still being a prime concern among voters.
With the general elections only a few months away, latest updates on 2019 elections and its key issues like employment, electricity, infrastructure, caste, religion and much more will be the focus of attention across national and international media outlets like NDTV, ABP news, The Hindu, polls2019.com etc.