Why Rahul Gandhi was right in cornering Modi government over employment figures

This piece has been co-authored by India Today TV journalists Sahil Joshi and Vidya.

 |  3-minute read |   21-07-2018
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During the no-confidence motion debate on July 20, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi took potshots at the ruling party over the election promises made by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 2014 and claimed that all of them have now fallen flat.

During the speech that was interrupted once, Gandhi said that the government had promised that two crore jobs will be created every year but only 4 lakh jobs have been created so far.

In the past, even senior Congress leaders such as Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi have challenged the data on job creation given out by the government and Rahul raised the point once again. He compared the job opportunities in India with that of China saying that "China gives employment to 50,000 people every 24 hours while in India only 400 youths get jobs in the same duration. This is the truth of their (government's) empty promises."

A look at China's official website shows that the number of employed persons in 2017 grew significantly compared to 2016. China's unemployment rate stands at 3.9 per cent compared to India's 7.1 per cent around the same period. China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) had announced earlier this year that the country created 13.51 million jobs in 2017, an increase of 3,70,000 over 2016.

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China's employment figures exceeded the government's own target of 11 million new jobs creating about 37,013 jobs every day in 2017. Lu Aihong, spokesperson for MHRSS, had revealed the numbers during a press conference earlier this year, adding that at the end of 2017, the country's registered unemployment rate in urban areas had hit 3.9 per cent - its lowest level since 2002.

For statistics on employment in India, we checked the 2017 yearbook of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. We also checked the statistics updated by the government in different industrial groups, factory employment data, average daily employment and shops and commercial daily employment figures. But no data for job creation is available since 2014.

The government started quarterly surveys in 2016. The labour ministry's quarterly employment survey (QES), which gives out the number of jobs created in eight sectors that account for over 80 per cent of the country's organised workforce such as manufacturing, construction, trade, transport, education, health, accommodation, restaurants and IT/BPO, on April 1, 2016, puts the figure at 205.22 lakh.

The details put out by the government on March 12, 2018, says that in the second quarter of 2016-17, employment rose by 77,000 followed by 32,000 in third, 1.22 lakh in the fourth quarter, 1.85 lakh in the fifth quarter. So during this period, about 1,139 were created every day.

According to the same report, employment rose by 64,000 in the sixth quarter. The seventh QES report revealed that there was an overall robust positive change of 1.36 lakh workers over the previous quarter, that is, October 2017, over July 1, 2017, across eight sectors at all-India level.

However soon after the government's first-ever estimate of payroll count based on Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) subscription and data from the Employees State Insurance Corporation and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority came out and according to that over 35 lakh jobs were added in the formal economy in the six months between September 2017 and March 2018. This would mean that 19,444 jobs were created by the government in the formal sector alone in this period.

With these varied statistics being thrown up, the government has all the data on hold. All the departments have been told to calculate figures all over again after which the government would come up with a consolidated figure of employment regeneration in India.

Also read: How Rahul Gandhi's wink stopped a great political moment from being realised

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