Opinion DC Comment 14 Jun 2019 Exploding myths on j ...

Exploding myths on jobs & growth

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jun 14, 2019, 1:15 am IST
Updated Jun 14, 2019, 1:15 am IST
One hopes with the elections now behind us, the government’s new team will get down to reviving the economy.
One can imagine the complexity of the situation that is crying for a solution.
 One can imagine the complexity of the situation that is crying for a solution.

That India’s GDP growth was over 2.5 per cent lower at 3.5-5.5 per cent, rather than 6.9 per cent in 2011-2016, as propagated by the government, has come as a bombshell from former chief economic adviser Arvind Subramaniam, now in the United States. The government’s various bodies have rushed to defend its rosy figures, but the reality is not lost on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who last week set up two Cabinet committees to tackle the twin challenges of slowing economic growth and inadequate job creation. In fact, it’s interesting that the government’s own labour ministry has released startling data that show 7.8 per cent of all employable urban youth are jobless, while the percentage for rural areas was 5.3 per cent. Joblessness among women is in almost the same ratio. It’s estimated that around 7-10 million people enter the job market yearly. One can imagine the complexity of the situation that is crying for a solution.

It may be recalled that before the general election, the government had tried to suppress the unemployment figures released by its labour ministry as it revealed joblessness at a 45-year high, or 6.1 per cent of the population. The figures were, however, leaked by an enterprising newspaper.

 

Mr Subramanian must be commended for exploding the myth (unintentionally) of the “jobless growth” phenomena touted in recent months. There was no growth as it had slowed down, and that’s why jobs weren’t being created. Even now, investments that could lead to the creation of new jobs aren’t coming as the private sector is burdened with inventories. The chances of these inventories being sold are slim as the demand is weak. It’s like a chicken and egg situation.

The good news is that the economy is starting to look up if the latest industrial production figures, at 3.4 per cent, are any indication. One hopes with the elections now behind us, the government’s new team will get down to reviving the economy.

 

But quibbling over GDP figures is like playing a game of fractions. The real issue is reaching “achche din” to people and uplifting those below the poverty line by putting purchasing power in their hands. It’s an irony that while India claims to be the fastest growing major economy, after China, it has 1.2 million children who are malnutritioned, 45 per cent are stunted, over two million live on the streets and three lakh children die at birth. These millions are waiting for the promised “achche din”.

Prime Minister Modi, whose strategy is targeting groups for upliftment like his Skill India and other programmes, has to spur development in various fields like education, health and housing. He had sought a second term so that he could fulfil the promises he had made in the first term, so hopefully he and his team will get on with the job.

 

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