It remains a big mystery what transpired in these five months that Nitin Gadkari who was boasting about the job creation number of the current government a few months ago, had to admit that there are no jobs.
On March 10, 2018, Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari said, “I give the challenge to prove me wrong on facts. I have records that in the last four years, my ministry has provided 50 lakh direct and indirect jobs.’’ He was speaking on the Day 2 of the India Today Conclave 2018. Five months later, Nitin Gadkari, when asked about Maratha Reservation stir, was quoted as saying, “Let us assume the reservation is given. But there are no jobs. Because in banks, the jobs have shrunk because of IT. The government recruitment is frozen. Where are the jobs?”
While it remains a big mystery what transpired in these five months that Nitin Gadkari who was boasting about the job creation number of the current government a few months ago, had to admit that there are no jobs, what we certainly know is the constantly teetering government narrative around job creation. The confusion and contention of the present dispensation over jobs are nearly ludicrous.
It was during the Gujarat Assembly Elections campaigning when the Congress President Rahul Gandhi flagged the issue of Job Creation. Addressing students at the Princeton University, he said, “30,000 new youngsters are joining the job market every single day and yet the government is only creating 500 jobs a day.” The poor deliverance of the Central government on the issue of job creation became the core election issue of the opposition since then. Astonishingly enough, the government has not till date countered the allegation with accurate facts and figures. On the other hand, there are a number of examples of lawmakers handing out unsolicited and almost comical explanations over the issue.
Not more than a few days ago, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje while talking to a reporter said, the lynching is happening because of lack of jobs and people’s anger is growing out of that helplessness. “This is the problem that stems out of population explosions. People wanting jobs, people are frustrated that they are not being able to get jobs. There is frustration which is spreading across communities and people,” Raje said. The recently elected Tripura CM Biplab Deb went one step further and advised the graduates to earn a living out of selling cow milk. “Graduates should get cows and milk it to earn Rs. 10 lakh in 10 years. Instead of running after political parties,” advised Biplab Deb. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi too during a television interview had said that selling Pakoras is also a form of a job when asked about the job creation claims. Later, in another interview to a web portal, Prime Minister Modi said what lacks is not the jobs but data on the job.
Interestingly enough, the government is yet to find a chief statistician six months post the retirement of TCA Anant from Central Statistics Office. Even when the CSO released the growth figures of 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ended March 31 positioning Indian economy as being the fastest-expanding major economy in the world, it was without the Chief Statistician at the helm.
While the lack of data seems to be the reasoning behind the unemployment numbers according to the Prime Minister, it is also important to have a look at the existing data. In February, Santosh Kumar Gangwar, junior minister for labor and employment told the Rajya Sabha that there are about 412,752 vacant posts as of March 2016 in various government departments. The vacancies amount to 11% of the around 3.6 million workforces of the various central government departments. Gangwar further said that around 44.9 million job-seekers registered with India’s employment exchanges as of September 2015.
Furthermore, the predictions of the International Labour Organization are even more damning. According to the latest report by the ILO estimated the number of unemployed in India will increase to 18.6 million people in 2018 and 18.9 million in 2019. The figures are in exact contradiction to the claims of Prime Minister Modi who had promised to deliver 10 million jobs every year during his rally in Agra in 2013.
Yet, there seems to be no urgency on the part of the government to address the issue. The first step of finding the solution to any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem, in the first place. Then the next steps of finding the root cause of problems and fixing the problem come into play. Modi government, however, lives in an ivory tower of denialism away from the realities of the Indian job market.