The Azim Premji University report that at least 50 lakh Indian men lost their jobs between 2016 and 2018, after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, confirms the serious crisis on the jobs front. The study’s authors said the figures would be much higher if women were included, and even discussed the quality of jobs being created. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said even selling pakodas was a job. The university’s findings should cause sleepless nights for Mr Modi, who had promised two crore jobs annually in 2014, which means over eight crore jobs should have been created by 2019. Instead, according to Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, a measly 7.8 million jobs were created. It’s little wonder that Mr Modi tried in vain to suppress the National Sample Survey report that had placed unemployment at 6.3 per cent, the highest since 1972.
As Mr Modi’s term ends in a few weeks, this seems meagre compared to the two crore jobs a year he promised. Mr Kant was literally scraping the bottom of the barrel, citing the number of jobs created by taxi aggregators Ola and Uber, and quoted the 7.2 per cent GDP growth figure to bolster his premise. But 7.2 per cent growth itself has been questioned by economists, who didn’t buy the argument about jobless growth. The next government has the arduous task of creating jobs for the unemployed, with unemployment among educated youth at over 15 per cent. An estimated seven million people enter the job market yearly, and providing for them needs programmes that go beyond Make in India, Skilling India and suchlike. None of these have taken off, and the PM doesn’t talk about it any longer.